Cape Gazette

Friday Editorial

Cape’s school proposal deserves support

Mar 28, 2014

Cape Henlopen School District residents 18 and over can go to the polls next Wednesday, April 2, in Lewes, Milton and Rehoboth Beach - and at Cape Henlopen High School - to cast their votes for or against a proposed property tax increase to pay for a new elementary school.

District officials tell us that for a tax increase of about $59 per year for the average property owner, we can finance the 40 percent local share of the $31 million project which includes land and a new elementary school on Route 24.  The project also includes expansion of the district’s two middle schools - Mariner in Milton, and Beacon on Route 24 near the site of the proposed new elementary school.  Those schools were designed for eventual expansion. This project would allow the district to replace the marginal modular classrooms now in use.

The site for the proposed elementary school makes sense, although traffic issues still need attention. Its location is in the center of one of the fastest-growing areas of eastern Sussex.  That area is also home to what a study by University of Delaware shows is probably the largest concentration of elementary-aged children in the school district. The attractiveness of Sussex County’s beaches, parks, liberal zoning and relatively low taxes  indicates that the growing student population in Cape Henlopen School District will continue long into the foreseeable future.

The existing elementary schools are beyond their capacity, with students in a number of instances relegated to makeshift classrooms in spaces originally designed for storage and other non-classroom purposes.

Cape district officials, assisted by the intensive volunteer committee process leading to the proposal on next week’s ballot, have done their homework. They are making a reasonable request of the voters to address a demonstrated need.  Education is the bedrock of a successful democracy, and Cape District residents have long supported a strong public education system.  Residents would be making a wise choice by going to the polls next week and voting yes on the referendum question.

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