Capital School District managed to hold off a referendum for the past eight years but that will change in 2019 as they will be going out for an operating referendum.
According to their Chief Financial Officer, Adewunmi Kuforiji, at their March board meeting, the district will hold this referendum next year. The Capital Board of Education discussed placing school safety monitors (constables) in all of their elementary schools, their 5-6 middle school and hiring a Supervisor to oversee the 19 constables that will be in all their schools. The price tag for adding these constables? Over $400,000. Some of the funds would come from federal cafeteria funds. Since the state does not give that specific funding, the rest would come out of the district’s local funds. This would be in addition to the five constables in place now, three at Dover High School and two at Central Middle School which serves students in grades 7-8. The board passed the resolution with three yes votes (two board members were absent).
Board President Sean Christensen asked Kuforiji several times if this action would push the district closer to an operating referendum. Kuforiji responded it would not as they have room in their FY2018 budget for this along with their reserves. But he did say, in no uncertain terms, more than once, the district would have an operating referendum in 2019. He did not say when in 2019.
Nine years is a long time to go without a referendum. Their last referendum helped to build the new Dover High School and the new district office.
Many in Delaware feel school referenda are outdated and refuse to support them. Others feel they are a necessary beast in education funding. Education funding has been a huge topic this year. Property assessments in Delaware are severely outdated and based on formulas from the 1970s and 1980s. The state’s education budget has grown over the years but it bounces from education cuts to new initiatives. In my opinion, it is a very disproportionate system that does not focus on the students but rather the school staff and administrators. With the exception of special education (and even that is messed up for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade), no extra funding is given based on student needs (poverty, English language learners). Some support a weighted funding formula while others support adding to the current unit-based system. Some feel no extra money should go towards public education and actually support school vouchers where the money follows the student, even if it goes to a private school. How will Dover residents vote next year when their district makes the ask for more taxpayer money?