Appoquinimink School District moves forward on new facilities

MIDDLETOWN — One of Appoquinimink’s historic buildings could finally see the updates the district has sought for years after the state approved its certificate of necessity. Meanwhile, the district’s eventual new schools and campus, made possible by a 2019 capital referendum, have officially been named.

Louis Redding Middle School
Fourth time’s the charm.

Appoquinimink’s certificate of necessity concerning Redding Middle has been approved by the Delaware Department of Education, meaning the historic building is closer to a massive renovation.

“We are so excited for our Redding family and for our district to be able to bring Redding Middle School to the 21st-century learning environment and do renovations that are much needed,” Superintendent Dr. Matt Burrows told the board Tuesday. “I know the staff and the community are super excited there.”

The district hopes to increase the student capacity from 796 to 1,000. It will preserve the historic facade within the front entrance and maintain the 2006 auditorium addition, while addressing significant infrastructure deficiencies and updating the learning environment. The construction would cost just shy of $57 million.

With an approved CN, the district could be coming to its community for a capital referendum.

“The great news is that it has been approved, and we’ll have more information going forward with that and what the next steps are,” Dr. Burrows said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Named for Delaware’s pioneering civil rights attorney, the school was built in 1952 and began as the African American school for the district for grades one through 12, according to Redding Middle’s website. In 1968, the school was integrated and became Louis L. Redding Intermediate School and included grades five through eight. It is currently Louis L. Redding Middle School and serves grades six through eight.

As part of the district’s 10-year comprehensive plan, there is a three-phase referendum. The 2016 referendum is wrapping up, with projects at Silver Lake Elementary and Meredith Middle School, said Dr. Burrows at the board’s October meeting. Redding was part of the initial ask to the state but was denied. It was denied again in 2018 and 2019.

“We made a promise to our community and to our stakeholders that we were going to continue to fight for Redding and make sure that it got the renovations and rebuild that it needed,” Dr. Burrows said in October.

New buildings named
About a year ago, the district sought $58 million in funding for capital projects to address its unceasing growth in the form of new buildings.

On Tuesday, the school board voted to formally name its new early childhood center Brick Mill Early Childhood Center, going hand in hand with the neighboring elementary school. The district had a “beam-topping” ceremony for the building earlier this month, with the final piece of structural steel placed atop the construction project.

In a “land swap” with the town of Middletown, the district is constructing the early education center next to Brick Mill Elementary School. Brick Mill Early Childhood Center will house 330 kindergartners with a projected opening of fall 2021.

The board also voted to unanimously approve the feeder pattern for the new BMECC, which would have students matriculating to Brick Mill or Silver Lake elementary schools. The student population would mostly come from the center of Middletown.

Meanwhile, the school board also approved the name for its new campus, a 142-acre plot of land across from the Summit Airport in Middletown. Summit Campus will begin with a new elementary school, but eventually will become a full K-12 campus.

The elementary school, named by the board Tuesday as Crystal Run, has an anticipated fall 2023 completion date and is anticipated to hold 840 students.