Polls will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. today, as taxpayers in the Colonial School District vote on a $9.6 million operating referendum.
The school district is trying to bridge a $6 million budget gap by asking for 35 cents per $100 of assessed property value, not market value. Superintendent Dr. Dorothy Linn says the average assessed value of a home in her district is $56,300, which amounts to a $197.05 annual tax increase, or an extra $16.42 a month.
Tuesday’s vote comes after voters rejected a February referendum asking for 47 cents per $100 of assessed value.
“We are trying to be as transparent as we possibly can,” Linn said. “I feel that we have done our best to get the information out to everybody, but it still makes me very nervous.”
Linn says the money will go towards salaries, which make up 85 percent of the budget, and day-to-day expenses like heating, air conditioning and electricity.
Because of the failed referendum in February, the school board had to lay off 81 district employees, including 59 teachers. Extracurricular activities are taking a hit as well; middle school and 9th grade sports would be cut, as well as extracurricular transportation costs affecting who could attend away games. Linn also took a voluntary two percent pay cut.
“We estimate that if we were able to pass this [referendum], then we would be able to bring back a lot of people, but still not all of the teachers,” said Linn, specifying a yes vote would allow her to bring everyone back, except for maybe 8-12 staff members. Linn’s second priority, she says, would be to determine in what capacity she could restore extracurricular activities.
Some Colonial parents set up a ‘Support Colonial School District‘ web page complete with referendum information and a calculator to figure out what your tax increase would be, if the referendum passes.
Here is a list of the polling places:
Carrie Downie School
Castle Hills School
Carvel State Office Building
Delaware City Library
Kingswood Comm. Center
Weston Senior Center
William Penn High School
Wilmington Manor School