Cape board to visit potential school sitesDistrict awaits state decision on new building, additions
Cape Henlopen school board members intend to narrow down a location for a proposed new elementary school while they await news from state officials on whether the district can proceed with its plans.
“I do think we need to meet and talk about this specifically and to look at the properties to see all the pluses and minuses,” said Superintendent Robert Fulton during the Sept. 12 school board meeting.
The district received appraisals on four proposed parcels for the new school. The parcels lie along the Route 24 corridor and on Beaver Dam Road. The district also received comments from the Preliminary Land Use Service – a process by which state agencies review building sites and provide opinions so schools and other developers can proceed without surprises.
School board members agreed to visit the properties in person to see for themselves the pros and cons of each site.
Board members Andy Lewis and Sandy Minard both recused from the process because of conflicts of interest. Lewis has a home that directly borders one of the properties; David Williams, attorney for the school district, advised him to abstain from further proceedings after Lewis approached Williams about a potential conflict. Minard works for Jack Lingo Realtor and voluntarily recused herself to avoid potential criticism that her decision would benefit her employer.
Earlier this year, the district began developing a capital improvement plan primarily for the district's elementary schools. Although a committee originally suggested building three new elementary schools and renovating a fourth plus classroom additions at both Mariner and Beacon middle schools, the board narrowed the plan to a new fifth elementary school and six new classrooms at both middle schools. Also proposed are 10 consortium classrooms to be built at the new elementary school and six new consortium classrooms at Beacon Middle School. The state would pick-up 100 percent of the construction costs for the consortium classrooms.
The total proposed building plan is about $31 million. Of that, district taxpayers would pay about $12 million, if the project is approved through a public referendum.
Director of Administrative Services Brian Bassett said he expects to hear the Department of Education's decision before Tuesday, Oct. 15.