In Woodbridge, one tax hike down and a second one to go
By Lynn R. Parks
Woodbridge superintendent Kevin Carson is "thrilled" that voters in his district recently approved a tax hike to fund construction of a new middle school. And he is not letting the fact that the same voters turned down by a narrow margin a tax increase to pay for supplies and staff for the middle school get him down.
"We have wanted a middle school for a long time and I am thrilled that we will be breaking ground for it soon," he said.
But that does not mean that yet another referendum for additional money for operating expenses is not in the works.
"We will have to come back for the second half of the referendum in the future," Carson said. While law provides that the district can hold a second referendum at any time, Carson does not anticipate recommending to the school board that the district do so this school year.
Last Tuesday, voters approved by a vote of 1,077 to 1,016 part one of the referendum, which allows the district to build a 68,157-square foot addition onto the existing Early Childhood Education Center in Bridgeville to accommodate middle school students. Students in kindergarten through grade four will be housed in the elementary school in Greenwood; high school students will remain in the current high school in Bridgeville.
This was the third request for construction funds in 16 months. The first two requests were for completely new construction on land the district owns between Greenwood and Bridgeville.
Construction costs of the addition will be about $13 million; of that, the state will pay $9.5 million, or 71 percent.
By an even slimmer margin, voters turned down part two of the referendum, which would have provided for increased operating costs for the district. The vote was 1,016 to 976.
The last current expense hike in the district was 14 years ago. A referendum on a current expense tax hike was turned down in 1998.
"The need was real then, and it is certainly real today," Carson said. "We only have half as many clubs and organizations as we would like to have. We have no middle school athletic program. Last year, the staff had a 0-percent pay increase. We are under a very tight budget."
Carson said that passage of the tax hike would have eased the budget crunch now as well as paid for additional staff and materials for the new middle school. "We will continue our belt tightening," he said.
First steps in the construction process started last Wednesday after the Tuesday vote, when Carson started contacting engineering and architectural firms. He expects ground breaking to take place about a year from now and construction to be complete in time for the start of classes in September 2004.
Mt. Calvary women to meet
The Mt. Calvary U.M. Church, 28 Church St., Bridgeville, will hold a Women's Fellowship Saturday, May 26, 9:30 a.m.to 12:30 p.m. The fellowship leader will be Rev. Alice Hemmeian from Pocomoke City, Md. Participants should bring a lunch. Dessert and beverages will be provided.
Woodbridge principal named
Robert A. Powell will be the new Woodbridge Middle School principal, effective July 1. He will replace Barry Cooper, who is stepping into the position of director of administrative services left vacant by the retirement of David Winski. Powell comes from Indian River School District, where for the past 12 years he has served as principal of Sussex Central Middle School. A former assistant principal and health teacher, Powell was the Delaware 1999 Secondary Principal of the Year and is a former Teacher of the Year for Indian River School District. He is a member of Millville Volunteer Fire Company and the Millsboro Car Club.