Indian River School District
District goes back to the drawing board
On the local level, every vote counts. On Tuesday, Nov. 22, the Indian River School District’s current-expense referendum was defeated by a margin of just 20 votes.
Audit to be released Nov. 17
The Indian River School District is asking taxpayers to think local when it comes to funding education. The public will vote in a Nov. 22 referendum on whether to approve a 49-cent increase in the local tax rate — primarily to keep up with skyrocketing student enrollment.
It was a Murphy’s Law kind of night for the Indian River High School soccer team, to say the least.
Any book will do. When Nichele Lobo invites special guests to read to her third-grade classroom, she doesn’t care which book they choose.
“If you’re reading something you enjoy … [you’ll] bring it to life,” said Lobo, a teacher at Southern Delaware School of the Arts.
Because students didn’t have school in mid-November, Lobo’s class celebrated National Young Readers Week a week early. That meant a week’s worth of special guests, sharing new stories with both third-grade classes.
Guests bring a book that is special to themselves or their own children. The students connect the stories to their own lives and classroom lessons.
People can get season’s greetings and season’s shopping from Indian River High School Band this weekend, as the Indian River High School Band Boosters will host a Holiday Shoppers Fair on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
While enjoying complimentary snacks and soft drinks and live music by IRHS music ensembles, people can do some holiday shopping at Cripple Creek Country Club.
Do you wanna build a robot? And then program it complete tasks and battle other bots?
The Selbyville Middle School LEGO Robotics Team brought demonstrations to the Nov. 5 Phillip C. Showell Fall Festival.
Kids crowded around to watch robotic LEGO vehicles push each other, sumo-wrestler style, out of the three-foot “SuGO” ring.
Anyone can participate in the SMS team’s SuGO fundraiser tournaments. In one day, even beginners can learn to program the robots, then compete for SuGO glory.
Glowing red sensors on the bottom can find boundaries of the competition ring. Similar red “eyes” can see forward their targets. The students program their robots to react in each situation. Is there a black line? Don’t move forward. Is there another vehicle? Accelerate to attack.
State has decreased school funding since 2008
The Indian River School District has more students and local property taxes than ever before. So why are schools understaffed and why is the district hosting a current-expense referendum, to raise property taxes 49 cents per $100 in assessed value, on Nov. 22 just “to survive”?
Short answer: The money isn’t coming as fast as the students are. In some cases, the money has decreased.
Amongst all the talk of Indian River School District’s Nov. 22 referendum — which would increase the local school tax for current expenses — there is another related problem.
The IRSD needs more buildings, too.
The Delaware Department of Education officially acknowledged that in mid-October, approving four of six Certificates of Necessity (CNs) for major construction.
Voters are considering approving an increase in school property taxes of 19 percent at an upcoming current-expense referendum, but with a state audit hanging over the Indian River School District, some of them want to see the final audit report before voting on the increase of 49 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
Millsboro Middle School is only a half-mile away from a major laboratory and vaccine manufacturer. But a small group of students experienced their very first trip inside the gates of Merck Animal Health facility for Manufacturing Day on Oct. 7.
A handful of Future Farmers of America (FFA) members joined U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, USDA Under-Secretary Michael Scuse and other national leaders to learn that agriculture isn’t just growing plants or livestock. Merck is one of many manufacturers in the agriculture field, creating poultry vaccines.
“To me, it was kind of an eye-opener, because I’ve never been in here before, and I’ve just imagined it as a factory. But it’s so much more than that,” said student Taylor Bullis.
Indeed, the media wasn’t even allowed to attend the tour of the facility, but the students and senator said it was interesting.
According to a lawsuit filed this week, local students aren’t being treated fairly — especially when it comes to the high rate of African-American students being placed in the Indian River School District’s alternative school in Frankford. The federal lawsuit was filed against the school district on Sept. 30, by the Coalition for Education Reform and two families.
The Indian River School District has its number.
In a Nov. 22 current-expense referendum, the IRSD will request an additional 49 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
If the majority of the public approves, the IRSD could add another $7.35 million to its coffers one year from now.
The district is one of the most steadily growing districts in Delaware.
For one week this summer, Drew Szlasa was flying airplanes, or controlling them from an aircraft carrier ship.
But this Selbyville Middle School eighth-grader wasn’t really up the air or at sea. She was in an immersive National Flight Academy summer camp, with hints of virtual reality, at Pensacola, Fla.
The whole building was designed to look and feel like a ship. Even the dorms were laid out like an aircraft carrier.
There were two teams — those flying the aircraft, plus the mission control team helping the aircraft navigate.
“They had these flight simulators where they taught you how to fly it,” said Szlasa. “There was this place called the JIC [Joint Intelligence Center] where you told the planes where to go.”
When flying, the plane started on the actual boat, “and then you take off from there,” she said. “The aircraft was really fun. … It was laid out like an actual airplane. It would be just you and a co-pilot.”
Every day at the flight simulator, campers sat in front of screens, maps and diagrams to complete the mission.
The Indian River School District’s budget is not keeping up with their students’ needs, so the local Board of Education has decided to host a current-expense referendum on Tuesday, Nov. 22.
How much will they request? The board hasn’t decided.
Life has changed since Gov. Jack Markell graduated from Newark High School in 1978. Back then, he said, people could get a decent job immediately after high school.
Nowadays, to find a job “that’s going to allow you to pay the kind of life you probably want to lead, you’re going to have to pursue additional training after high school,” Markell told Indian River High School seniors this week. “That doesn’t mean you have to start immediately after high school. But in order to advance, you’re really going to have to continue to invest in your education.”
Markell isn’t saying everyone needs a two- or four-year degree.
But the State of Delaware has invested in post-secondary training, and students should, too, Markell told the IRHS senior class on Sept. 20.
His visit was part of Delaware Department of Education’s third annual senior class tour, which supports students in transitioning from high school to college and career.
An Indian River School District para-educator was arrested Sept. 20 on allegations that she had engaged in sexual acts with a 17-year-old male student who was enrolled at her assigned school.
The Georgetown Police Department arrested Nicole M. DeGirolano, 23, of Millsboro, on four counts of sexual abuse of a child by a person in a position of trust, authority or supervision.
The Delaware State Police Explorers program consists of young men and women who have an interest in law enforcement.
Parents told they shouldn’t be concerned
Indian River School District officials said this week that the blue bracelets making their way around Indian River High School on Sept. 19 were nothing more than a bad joke.
Several students were distributing blue rubber bracelets printed with the words “Kill yourself” and a swastika, according to district officials.
This past spring, Indian River High School students collectively took 152 Advanced Placement exams. They blew those exams out of the water, earning “qualifying scores” on 76 percent of those exams, far exceeding the national average of 57 percent. They also won about two dozen scholar awards.
Patricia Dailey-Lewis, who heads the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, recalls the moment the foundation was born.
Indian River School District will welcome more than 10,000 students back to school when the 2016-2017 school year begins on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Preschool programs, including Project Village and TOTS, will begin on Monday, Sept. 12. The last day of school for students is Friday, June 16, 2017. The last day for preschool is Friday, June 9, 2017.
Indian River School District officials have been telling people for years now that the student population is growing much faster than once anticipated. This month, the school board slashed the district’s budget by about 13 percent, amidst plans to potentially build three new buildings and renovate three more in the near future.
The cafeteria at the Southern Delaware School of the Arts resembled a giant classroom on the morning of Monday, Aug. 22, with fresh faces seated at rows of tables, surrounded by shiny, colorful new school supplies — except that many of those at the desks had brought their own cups of coffee and all were at least in their early to mid-20s.
Readers who think young people today spend too much time on computers might want to stop right here. On second thought, keep reading… and be impressed.
Two students in Indian River High School’s Junior ROTC program spent a week in August at CyberPatriot camp at the Randolph Macon Academy in Front Royal, Va. The camp is part of a cybersecurity education program in which teams from all over the country learn cybersecurity tactics and compete against each other to identify threats and defuse them.
The program was started in 2009 by the U.S. Air Force Association and funded by the Department of Defense.
The AFA has been increasingly concerned with cybersecurity — keeping the nation safe from threats against computer systems. Disruption of computer systems can cause major damage to the country’s banking, commerce, manufacturing, defense and other industries — and the CyberPatriot program has several goals that address those threats.
This year, hundreds of Indian River School District parents will begin navigating a new pathway they didn’t expect: special education services for their kids.
It’s a tricky road to follow. Families try advocate for their children, sometimes not even fully understanding the educational process and their rights.
Special education is “an ever-evolving specialty,” said Heather Statler, who has dedicated her career to the subject. Now, this Indian River School District board member is chairing the new Special Education Task Force, which will review the district’s entire special-ed program.
In our Aug. 12 article “IR educator: Teachers undermined as parents demand special treatment,” we referenced the IRSD board’s decision-making on additional admissions to the East Millsboro Elementary School Spanish Immersion program. The four students who were recommended did go through the lottery process with all applicants.
More than four dozen students at Lord Baltimore Elementary School will receive backpacks filled with school supplies to start their school year, thanks to the efforts of a group of local women.
The idea for the backpack project came about as a group of women who live in the Bishop’s Landing development collected their usual money for local charities during their monthly luncheon. The women decided that they wanted to contribute backpacks and came up with filling 50 packs as their goal.
First, the backpacks themselves were purchased, and into each one was placed a supplies list for one of the grades at Lord Baltimore, which encompasses kindergarten through fifth grade. The individual backpacks were then taken by households in Bishop’s Landing and filled with everything from dry erase markers to earbuds.
Schools in the Indian River District will host a series of open houses in the coming weeks.
Open houses are designed to allow students and parents to meet teachers and staff, view class lists and tour school buildings. A number of schools will host multiple sessions during a three-day period, with each session catering to a different grade level.
Every school year brings new faces to the classroom, and the Indian River School District has a handful of new administrators leading local education for the 2016-2017 school year.
Indian River High School is welcoming two new assistant principals, Chad Moletress and Laretha Payton, who filled vacancies left by Corey Heacock and Justin Miller.