Speak Out: School referendums

Readers reacted to a recent letter to the editor headlined “The endless cycle of school referendums.”

• There are plenty of ways to save money in school design and construction. The old ways linger and “if you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got”. — Dave McGuigan

• Kudos to Mr. Garrod for saying what many of us have. Remember how the state promised that if we voted for casinos, the earnings would relieve us of this issue? Yet we allowed lifelong “educators” to convince us that it would be cheaper to tear down an existing school and build two more instead of repairing the old one (Caesar Rodney). We have Polytech schools that are completely state funded that have been allowed to convert from occupational bases to academic ones. The state education secretary has zero input to the schools who operate with autonomy. And anyone who questions this monstrosity has no compassion “for the children”. — George Roof

• A part of the problem is that Delaware law doesn’t allow for districts to build based on population projections. They can only program buildings for their current population. So when a referendum is passed, and the project takes three or four years to go from referendum to opening the doors of the new school. It’s already too small because the population has increased during the time it took to get the school built. And so in a relatively short period of time from completion, they’re back for another referendum. I don’t know what the solution is, but this is at least a portion of the issue. — B.K. Smith

• That’s a really bad law. This creates built-in inefficiency. Populations grow constantly in various areas of the state. No business would operate like this. Real estate developers look at population projections to get an idea of how many houses to build. That law needs to be changed, it just makes no sense. — Brad Thomas

• I think you hit every point well but the question still unanswered is how do we get the best value for education in Delaware? I like the idea of privatization and competion to privatize services. — Bill Hinds

• Great comments. However, if I may, you missed one oft repeated justification for a new building. “The current building is just too old and it would not be cost effective to improve it.” Milford School District did exactly this about five years ago. The middle school was just too small and antiquated. A new building was the only answer. So, they got their wish. The middle school was, more or less, abandoned and left for minor offices.

Now, since the district got what they wanted a few years ago, they are looking at restoring and continuing to use — the middle school!

Capital School District pulled much the same ploy. Every time I see this stupidity, this arrogance, this assumption the general populace is stupid, I get irritated. There are buildings, all over this country, that go back a lot further than 1935. They are still in use. They are, as necessary, upgraded and refurbished and the general, routine maintenance is kept up. Someone, from some school district, needs to explain why it is, they accept such inferior quality buildings, that they cannot be maintained and kept current. Or, maybe just admit, they like to have “new” things and that really is the bottom line. — Dennis Mehrenberg

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