IRSD, Millsboro to discuss annexation of school

IR to re-do hasty vote

The Town of Millsboro is growing fast, encouraging both development and also annexation. Now, there is talk of bringing East Millsboro Elementary School officially into town limits.

Indian River School District’s top two officials had actually assumed that building was already located inside the municipality.

“To tell the truth, I always did think the school was in town limits, because I saw the Millsboro Police Department cars up there a lot,” said Charles Bireley, school board president.

Superintendent Mark Steele agreed.

IRSD administrators planned to meet with Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson on May 29 (after Coastal Point press time) to hear more details about the plan.

“I can’t think it’s a bad thing for district,” Steele said, since Millsboro already provides water and sewer to EME. “Millsboro’s growing — oh, my god, they’re growing. We never had any thought of annexation until they brought it up.”

Millsboro’s 2017 zoning map already shows the 26.5-acre East Millsboro parcel (tax map ID 133-17.00-41.00) in the Town’s potential annexation zone.

That may sound like things are already on track for a quick move to annexation, but the IRSD actually jumped the gun, and the annexation vote happened so fast (and without proper notice) that the school board is planning to go back and re-do it, by the book.

Essentially, the board talked about annexation when they shouldn’t have during a May 20 board meeting. It was discussed during executive session as a tangent to police officer contracts, and Steele mistakenly thought he had included the topic in his monthly Superintendent’s Report.

“We were going over contracts for SROs [school resource officers],” when the topic arose, Steele explained. “I think their police department is interested in picking up that duty in Millsboro, and the problem we had foreseen is we have one school in Millsboro town limits [Millsboro Middle School] and one not in. … We talked about annexation at that time, and we shouldn’t have.”

Back in public session, the motion was for the IRSD to request that the Town of Millsboro annex the elementary school. The vote was 8-2. Dissent came from Bireley and from board VP Rodney Layfield, although neither explained their “no” votes during the meeting.

“Was that on the agenda?” Bireley asked at the time.

“It was under the Superintendent’s Report,” Steele mistakenly said.

“I hadn’t heard anything about it before that night,” Bireley told the Coastal Point afterward. “The Town is requesting it. They want to annex. … Since then, we’ve had a discussion that it wasn’t done properly.”

A call to the district’s attorney set them straight.

So the Board of Education is expected to discuss and vote/ratify the measure during their meeting on Monday, June 24, at 7 p.m. at Sussex Central High School. Both Bireley and Steele said they expect discussion during public session that night, not in executive session.

“That was a vote we should not have taken. … So you’ll get to hear that discussion in June,” Steele confirmed.

Although school board votes occur in public session, most members of the public leave during executive session in the middle of the meeting, which can last several hours. Therefore, the final few votes of the night (typically regarding personnel, contracts, student discipline and any other topics from the executive session) are often only witnessed by a few personnel and the official audio recording.


By Laura Walter

Staff Reporter