Commentary: Voting for Capital School District referendum is crucial for growth

On Tuesday, April 9 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., residents living within Capital School District will have the opportunity to help improve education for our future.

We have listened to the community and developed a long-range strategic plan focused on educating the whole child, being linear and streamlined and Senator Pride. We need all of our residents to come out and vote. We are calling this effort – Straight As for Capital Students – where residents will be asked to vote on three ballot questions:

Number 1. Adding two new inter-connected middle schools on Pat Lynn Drive, the site of the old Dover High School

Number 2. Adding necessary enhancements for those middle schools and renovations to Central Elementary

Number 3. Adding operating revenue

As a community, we all understand that great communities are built from great schools. The information below helps to address the facts around the referendum and provides more detail on each of the three questions.

Question 1: Adding two new middle schools creates right-sized schools districtwide, aligning grade levels to follow best instructional practices: Early Childhood Centers (grades pre-school and kindergarten), elementary (grades 1-5) and middle schools (grades 6-8).

The governor has already committed $64 million of the state budget to this project due to our overcrowding. Voting no means that we would lose $64 million of state funds. These new schools will give us the space we need right now and in the future.

Question 2: Adding necessary upgrades for the two new middle schools and renovations to Central Elementary: adds spaces and additional opportunities for participation in visual & performing arts, career & technical education, science and athletics; provides energy-efficient upgrades and necessary funds for property improvements; prepares Central for elementary students, grades 1-5, in an important historical site.

Question 3: Adding operating revenue: the last operating referendum was in 2005. Capital School District has the second oldest and lowest operating tax rate in the state. This revenue will be used to continue to protect our children through safety and security, to address the rising costs of energy, instructional materials/supplies, building maintenance, inflation, healthcare/other costs, continue and expand our Career and Technical Education programs and programs in the arts, and to place technology in the hands of our children. We also believe it is important to recruit and retain the best teachers and staff for our children.

Anyone who is at least 18 and lives in the district may vote. You do not need to be a homeowner or a registered voter, simply bring a proof of residence like your driver’s license or utility bill. All eligible members of a household may vote from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9 at Hartly Elementary, South Dover Elementary, Towne Point Elementary or William Henry Middle School.

This referendum is a small investment that will provide our students with the learning environments they need. The highest tax increase to the average homeowner would be less than $5.50 per month in the second year and by the sixth year, taxes would begin to decrease.

As a district, we are proud of the accomplishments of our children and want to continue to educate them in high-quality schools, with the best staff, ensuring that all students are college and career ready when they graduate.

I hope you will come out and vote on Tuesday, April 9. If you have questions, please review the information available on our referendum website: https://www.capital.k12.de.us/referendum and our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CapitalSchoolDistrict/.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Dan Shelton is superintendent of schools for Capital School District and John Martin is president of the Capital School District Board of Education.

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