Work starts upon passage of Capital referendum

DOVER — The Capital School District succeeded in passing a $115-plus million referendum Tuesday.

Now what?

The district is currently developing programming for two new middle schools, the first step for creating a design plan.

Within two weeks or less, Capital will publicly post a request for proposal seeking applications for an architect and program manager. Once selected, the formal design phase begins.

Dan Shelton

“We anticipate multiple public meetings during the process for the community to comment on progress and ideas within the design and programming,” Superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton said Wednesday, following the referendum’s passing.

Capital said programming includes Career and Technical Education, Arts, Social Emotional Learning, Gifted and Talented, English Language Learners and Spanish Immersion.

Also included, Dr. Shelton said are “the programs that have not yet been developed that will help us to bridge the gaps that have been identified.”

The newly approved tax rate becomes effective July 1, and Dr. Shelton said the related funds usually arrive and are used around November. Operating revenue tax was a stepped-up increase and “does not increase revenues significantly, therefore, it is more about continued programing and making up for the shifts from the state to the local,” Dr. Shelton said.

Beginning in 2023-24, students will have increased access to technology and more programs in the two new middle schools, the district said.

“We are blessed to live in a community that understands the value of public education and has shown such overwhelming support,” Dr. Shelton said.

Also in 2023-24, Capital can shift students into early childhood centers (preschool and kindergarten), elementary schools (first through fifth grades) and middle schools (sixth through eighth grade. Dr. Shelton called the reconfiguration “a key component in the plan.”

With added funding needed due to “the state shifting support, we can now focus on getting the technology programs and services into the hands of our students and teachers to be able to educate and prepare our students to be the workforce and leaders of the future,” Dr. Shelton said.

Transparency emphasized

In the months preceding the referendum, Dr. Shelton said transparency was at the forefront of a plan to present public information to residents within Capital’s borders.

The three phases of the referendum easily passed by a combined 5,056 to 2,408 vote,

“I could not be more proud of the community, parents, families, teachers, staff and administrators that worked tirelessly to get the facts about this referendum out into the public,” he said.

“The message was clear that this was needed and our community overwhelmingly showed their support for the work that we have been doing.”

Dr. Shelton described the ballot as long and complicated as Delaware Code requirements were mandated.

“The (Delaware Attorney General’s office) forced a few things onto the notice of election and ballot that just made it more complicated,” Dr. Shelton said.

“Unfortunately, the code requires us to break it out the way we did. It would be nice if the laws were changed to allow and more simple notice and ballot.”

Senior citizens over age 65 can receive a $400 tax break.

“There is legislation out there now to raise that credit back to $500,” Dr. Shelton said.

Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 741-8296 or canderson@newszap.com.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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