Commentary: Clearing the record on school referendums

I enjoy reading “Speak Out,” one of the first articles I read along with “Commentary.” I am baffled how many participants don’t do their research before commenting. Like the motor in their mouth starts before the motor in their head.

A recent “Speak Out” centered on school referendums in response to the New Jersey transplant, Mr. Garrod, who adopted southern Delaware as his home to avoid the New Jersey taxes. (“The endless cycle of school referendums,” Commentary, April 25)

Only one respondent accurately stated Delaware law restricting schools to build according to current student population and unfortunately in many districts from start to finish construction, those numbers are outdated.

On the other side, demographics can change overnight as they did in Seafood when DuPont sold their plant and school numbers slowed.

Frank Calio

No one mentioned to Mr. Garrod that a record number of people are moving to Delaware for the same reason as he did, many bringing young children who are going to schools along the East Coast, causing student explosion.

And may I remind Mr. Garrod, taxpayers paid for his education and he should do the same for our children. Problem with many transplants using our services, is thinking they have no children, why should they pay for kids’ education?

I agree with the respondent regarding demolishing existing schools. Many of these schools were built with money from the DuPont family. Milford, Laurel, Georgetown were built with that financial help. Beautiful buildings, historic.

Georgetown’s high school was rehabbed and wired for internet, and is now a junior high school. Laurel’s massive 1921 building was scheduled for demolition but was saved by a small group and a superintendent who saw a future for the building. Still vacant, the outside was refurbished and updated. Possible tenants, a trade school, incubator startups, or apartments for seniors.

The North Laurel school was also scheduled for demolition. By the time two new schools were built, enrollment exceeded space in the new buildings, the North Laurel school suddenly became an option, was remodeled, and I believe serves as an early learning center.

The West Laurel school, also scheduled for demolition was given to the town of Laurel, who are converting the building into a police station, and a child care learning center has rented two-thirds of the remaining space.

One solution to the high costs of construction is to have one basic design without bells and whistles, which was shot down a few years back by architects who earn their fees by the cost of the design. It’s what is learned inside the building that matters, nothing gained by a fancy outside.

No one likes to pay taxes, I surely don’t. I think schools should be held accountable for their spending. They have so many money accounts, federal, state, local monies making it difficult for the average person to follow the money trail.

The education budget takes a huge bite out of the state’s budget. Many federal programs upon expiring, employees do not disappear with the program, but they are found positions within the system, adding to a larger budget.

Their budget requests are rarely refused. Educators know how to massage legislators’ egos.

Millions of dollars in county and school taxes go uncollected each year. County and school officials need to be more aggressive toward collection of those taxes, shell out or sell them out.

In the meantime, our young children shouldn’t suffer being educated because of our feelings of being taxed more.

Frank Calio, of Laurel, was a former Sussex County economic development director and state elections commissioner.

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