IRSD pauses EMES annexation talk to ask longer-term questions

After talk of annexing East Millsboro Elementary School into Millsboro town limits, the Indian River School District school board has decided to slow down their decision-making in favor of long-term planning.

After erroneously voting to request annexation (the topic was not properly listed on the May meeting agenda), the Indian River School District Board of Education opted not to ratify that decision quite yet.

The school board turned their attention to another IRSD site just outside Millsboro town limits: the Outdoor Education Center at Ingram Pond. The IRSD science center and classroom is situated at a quiet curve of Godwin School Road, flanked by two massive wings of the Plantation Lakes housing development, where family homes are priced as low as the $100,000s.

“We just give that another two years, it’ll be packed,” said Board Member Donald Hattier.

“Millsboro [has] approved 3,000 building permits to be built over the next 10 years,” Superintendent Mark Steele has previously said.

If only 10 percent of those homes had only one child, that adds another school’s worth of kids to the region.

In their long-term planning, the IRSD has previously identified the Ingram area as a potential site for a future elementary school, if ever needed. Perhaps now is the time to consider annexing the Ingram property, too, said Board Member Rodney Layfield.

At East Millsboro Elementary, the major immediate benefit would be police coverage. The Millsboro Police Department would have primary jurisdiction, so they could provide the school resource officer (SRO) and could respond immediately to the school for any problem, small or large.

Currently, the MPD can only respond if officially dispatched there, since the Delaware State Police has primary jurisdiction. Also, the school district already pays in-town rates for EMES water and sewer.

Would the IRSD save money by combining annexation requests for both East Millsboro and the Ingram Pond? Or, if the IRSD ever builds a school at the Ingram site, would they save more money by avoiding in-town permit fees and then annexing after construction?

Legal fees for the EMES annexation would range from $3,000 to $10,000 at the very most, although Steele said Town Manager Sheldon Hudson would aim to waive the $500 application fee.

The school board tabled the discussion this week so the administration can ask more questions of Millsboro Town Hall.

The school district has time to research the issue. During an emergency, the nearest police officers will always respond, regardless of agency or jurisdiction. If people are in danger, the Millsboro Police Department won’t stop at the door because of paperwork.

The Town Millsboro has been aggressively annexing land and promoting development of housing and business.

“Dr. [Jay] Owens and I were both a little surprised when we saw their map with the expansion areas in it,” Steele reported after visiting Millsboro Town Hall. “And it is rapidly, rapidly expanding.”

 

By Laura Walter

Staff Reporter