Letter to the Editor: Voting for Capital referendum now makes sense

The Capital School District referendum on April 9 is an opportunity to support our children and our economy. Aside from simply being what is best for our kids, it is what is best to continue growing our economy.

On the back of the recent growth we have seen in Dover and Kent County, this will provide enhanced quality of life desperately needed in the area to keep and attract talented, productive individuals with families. One of the first things intelligent home buyers ask when looking into a new area is “how are the schools?”. This is an opportunity for Dover to have a solid response to that question for many years. As a home owner in downtown Dover, local business owner and soon-to-be father, I will vote yes for this referendum.

This investment will come in one way or another. As the area continues to grow, we will need more space for our students. We can plan for it and discuss how to budget for it or wait for it to become an emergency. Growth is inevitable and should be welcomed. Not acting now is simply kicking the can down the road for someone else to fix. Act now or react later.

Delaware’s population is growing and the landscape is changing. We all know, or are ourselves, someone who moved from a neighboring state for lower taxes and high quality of life. Unfortunately, Dover only qualifies for one of those. Kent County has great tax rates, but our quality of life is listed as being the lowest in the state. One key factor to determining quality of life is the education system. We can make an investment now and set a positive trajectory for years to come, or we can let is spiral downward by settling for status quo.

Whether we like it or not, we are competing for talent with New Castle and Sussex counties. Dover has a lot going for it — four colleges, an Air Force base, several major healthcare facilities, proximity to the beaches, parks and a rich history. If we play our cards right, we could all share in a very prosperous future.

However, this potential is not always evident walking around town or even driving through the surrounding areas. But there is a growing impetus of change in the area with development and restoration projects throughout downtown, Route 13 and the west side of town. Investing into our education system would help us attract and keep the physicians, entrepreneurs and workers that are needed to continue driving this development.

Dover does not have the private schools or a charter school system evident up north and we don’t have the tax base at the beaches. It is up to the city and its citizens to provide quality educational opportunities. And if we don’t do it, talented people will leave or never come in the first place. This referendum gives us an opportunity to partner with the state to make an investment that will help us attract and keep the talent we need to grow.

There is not a better time than now! This referendum unlocks over 60 million dollars of state resources to be invested into Dover. The investment into our schools will be split with the state and city roughly 60:40 respectively. That means if we tried to make these changes in the future without state backing, it would cost over double to the taxpayers to make the same improvement.

As a business owner, if someone offered to fund 60 percent of an expansion and the only caveat was that I had to make the change now, there would be little hesitation on my part to act. That is the position we are in. Act now or react later.

Jesse Riggin

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