Delaware News

Renovations at schools on track as voters OK bond issue

Upgrades planned at all eight Delaware school buildings; work could start by next spring

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The Delaware City School District's bond issue passed easily Tuesday, May 7, with the wide margin of victory surprising district leaders.

According to unofficial results from the Delaware County Board of Elections, the 3.6-mill bond issue passed 3,389 votes (61 percent) to 2,200 (39 percent).

The bond issue is a four-year draw-out that, by 2017, will cost homeowners about $60 more annually per $100,000 in property value. The funds must be put toward district facilities.

Superintendent Paul Craft said it's incredible knowing the issue garnered such strong support, especially in comparison with November 2011's vote, when district residents passed a five-year, 8.3-mill emergency levy by a slim 51 percent margin.

"We were surprised and really kind of humbled that this community has such an agreement with us," he said. "You don't see bonds passing with that kind of margin very often."

Craft said the district chose the least-expensive option to solve the district's overcrowding and ever-increasing enrollment.

"This issue passing shows the trust and the vision that has been built between the district and the community," he said.

Although there wasn't a whole lot of organized opposition against the school district, there were a few professionally made signs that asked voters to say "no," Craft said.

"It wasn't just our issue they were saying to vote 'no' on, but all new taxes," he said, "and we understand why they did that, which is why we chose the least-expensive option we could."

Craft said the campaign team did a great job explaining how the bond issue honored the community tradition as well as planned for the future.

One member of the community who has been what Craft calls a "financial watchdog" informed Craft that although he normally would not vote for new taxes, he planned to vote "yes" due to the facts and information he received from the district.

"We have worked to make sure that we understand the concerns of citizens with a fixed income and made sure they understood our concerns," he said.

The next step for the district will be to turn the building concepts into detailed plans and get bids ready to start construction. It will be several months before plans are finalized.

The district hopes to begin construction by spring 2014.

The plan does not require any redistricting and will allow the district's schools to go back to the traditional alignment of grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

All eight of the district's buildings will receive renovations, from additional classroom wings to new gyms and commons areas. Willis Intermediate School will be converted into a multipurpose building for school administration, housing a virtual learning center and space for community members to use.

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