Delaware News

District leaders, architects collaborate on solution

Delaware schools plan renovations if bond issue passes in May


Delaware City School District leaders are preparing to present their plans to the community for the building renovations they say are needed to support the district's growth.

The district will ask voters to approve a 2-mill bond issue May 7 that would cost homeowners about $60 annually per $100,000 in property value.

The school board made the decision earlier this month to ask for a bond issue in order to deal with the district's continued growth and enrollment.

Five of the eight buildings in the district currently are over capacity. Willis Intermediate School and Dempsey Middle School will not be able to serve all the students coming in without some major changes, district leaders said.

Larry Davis, facilities director, said the district is continuing to work with an architect who will provide renderings and drawings of the proposed renovations and additions to the schools.

"Right now, we are working on renovations to support the continued growth and additions to support the increasing enrollment," he said.

Specifically, the architect is working to come up with designs on how each of the five elementary schools can absorb the fifth-grade students from Willis and how Dempsey will absorb Willis' sixth-graders.

Plans call for the district's elementary schools to be updated to house students in grades K-5. Dempsey Middle School would house students in grades 6-8, Hayes would continue as the high school, and Willis Intermediate School would become a district administration center, alternative education center and virtual learning center, and would be available for use by community organizations.

All the building renovations will be adjacent to the building additions at each school, Davis said.

The district met with an architect before proceeding with the paperwork for the May bond issue. The architect provided district leaders with an estimated cost per square foot for the additions and renovations.

Another architect now is looking at how to build those additions and renovations cost-effectively, leaders said.

For example, Dempsey sits on a larger plot of land, and district leaders are mulling where to put the addition in order to support the utilities and increased bus traffic it will produce.

The exact dates of construction would not be set unless the bond issue passes in May; however, Davis said he expects to have a more-realistic timeline and sequence of building renovations in the next 10 days.

Davis said the design of the buildings will eat up the largest amount of money and added district leaders will keep cost-effectiveness in mind when deciding on designs.

"It's like you're buying a car," Davis said. "Once you decide what car you want, there are still a lot more things they can try to sell you. We will only spend what we ask for. We are going to provide a safe environment for our students using common sense and being very frugal with our money."

Davis said officials are in "information-gathering mode" and will share more information as soon as they know more.