One of the ingredients that made America great is its educational system. Every child has a right to good education; that’s why our school system guarantees education through high school to all America’s children. It is the responsibility of the community to provide the resources to the school system. All school districts, including the Indian River School District, are required to enroll any student who shows up at the admission office.
During the last five years there has been enormous growth in the population of the Indian River school district. The number of students has increased beyond anyone’s projections. We now have serious overcrowding in many schools. In some schools, class sizes are now over 116 percent of capacity. This has led to the need for building one new high school and expansion of existing buildings in other schools.
Delaware is different from other states. Funding for schools comes from two sources. First, the school district must raise 40 percent of the funds and then the state adds its share of 60 percent. The Indian River School District seeks to raise its share of the funds through a districtwide referendum which will take place on May 7, 2019.
When passed, this referendum will add on the average $68.96 per household to the annual property tax (less than 6 dollars per month). Even after the tax is added, the property assessment will still be lower than in any other school district in our state.
It is important that we vote yes on this referendum and encourage others to do the same. Evidence shows that property values remain high in communities with good Public Schools.
Not solving this overcrowding problem will certainly negatively affect our children’s education, but also it will have lasting negative effects on our community. When thinking of relocating their business, employers are looking for well-educated students to become their workers. They do not want to relocate where they cannot find qualified workers
South Sussex County is designated by the federal Government as a health manpower shortage area. When thinking of relocating, medical personnel consider the quality of the local schools for their children. If the schools are poor quality, they would either not come to our community or would leave in a few years when their children become school-age.
Due to overcrowding and poor education, some students will drop out of school and there are not many jobs available for high school dropouts in our community. They will start living a life of unemployment, and are more likely to become involved in crime and violence, as well as the cycle of hopelessness which fuels the opioid epidemic. This will not only make our community unsafe but also result in lower property values.
After this referendum is over, we will turn our attention towards finding a permanent fix for school funding. We need to have a sustainable source of funding for the school system so that our educators do not need to worry about referendums and can focus on educating the children.
Someone paid for our education when we were going through school; now it is time for us to help with the education of others. This is our opportunity to do the right thing by voting yes on the referendum question on May 7 and to encourage others to do the same.
My fellow residents who may not be here on May 7 can get an absentee ballot by calling the Department of Election office at (302) 856-5367. Anyone who is a US citizen living in the Indian River school district and is 18-year of age or older is eligible to vote in this referendum.
Mohammad and Jeanette Akhter