Greenwood Events
Thursday, April 20th, 2000
Carson: Tax increase would help sports
By Michael Sullivan
Can a community put a price on its sense of pride?
That's one of the questions on the minds of people in Greenwood and Bridgeville these days, as another Woodbridge School District referendum approaches.
These two towns take a great deal of pride in their high school teams, as was evident this past football season. Coach John Parker attributed much of the team's success - the team won the Henlopen Conference championship - to the fan support at the games.
The team played Middletown in the state tournament game. Because of their unblemished record, the Raiders were given home field advantage. The coaches, team, and fans were excited to hear this news, but there was one problem: the Woodbridge home field was deemed an unacceptable location for the playoff game. Instead, the team had to play at Bob Dowd Stadium in Seaford.
That took some of the magic away from the moment. And some say the outcome might have been different - Woodbridge lost - if the Raiders could have played on their own field.
On Saturday, May 6, Woodbridge residents will get another opportunity to vote on what the school officials are calling "a golden opportunity," as another Woodbridge referendum takes place. In the last vote, the referendum fell 64 votes short of passing and Woodbridge superintendent Dr. Kevin Carson hopes that the lowered tax increase percentage (from 67.5 percent to 59.5 percent) will help change enough minds to pass the referendum this time around.
School officials say that a "yes" vote for this measure is a "yes" vote for the future of sports teams. That's because this plan includes a sports complex that will provide space for new fields for every team.
The Woodbridge Athletic Association has been trying to build a sports complex for years, and this is a chance to get that project rolling.
The 150-acre span owned by the district has more than enough space for new Little League and Woodbridge Youth Soccer Association fields. Financing these projects would be the responsibility of each organization but the land, which would already be leveled, would be provided without cost.
"Right now, our community sports programs are playing on school fields, on private property, or pretty much anywhere they can get permission to," Carson said. "This would give them an option, and cut costs all around in the long run. If we level and grade all of the land we plan to use for sports fields while we already have the equipment there, we won't have to pay for it again later."
Carson pointed out that the primary reason for the referendum is overcrowding. "If we don't build a new school, we will just have to spend money on modular (portable) classrooms," he said.
The 59.5 percent tax increase amounts to a $59 per year increase over two years for a total of $118.
Why are administrators calling the Woodbridge referendum a golden opportunity?
Because the state of Delaware will foot 75 percent of the cost of new construction, leaving 25 percent to be paid by school district residents. If not taken advantage of, this opportunity may not be available again, Carson said.
"The Woodbridge referendum is an investment in our schools, in property values, and in a lot of other things," Carson said.
"In addition to a new middle school and sports fields, the community is also getting renovations and improvements in the elementary and high schools such as air conditioning, a new roof, and new electrical systems. These are needed repairs. Seaford and many other local small communities have already passed their referendums, and it's time for us to do likewise."