Cape Henlopen officials celebrate 50 years as a school district

State of the district event highlights history, accomplishments, challenges
February 7, 2020

Cape Henlopen School District officials toasted accomplishments and detailed challenges during a special event celebrating 50 years as a district.

Now in his eighth year as superintendent, Bob Fulton provided updates on growth, major capital projects and student achievements at the Jan. 30 event at Cape High.

Fulton said five out of 10 approved capital projects are complete and were necessary due to growth; roughly 200 new students a year enroll in Cape schools. Fulton said a population study conducted for the district stated that once remaining projects are complete, district schools should have adequate space until 2035.

In fall 2023, Fulton said, the new middle school in Lewes will be completed, alleviating crowding at Beacon and Mariner middle schools, the only district schools using costly modular classrooms that will no longer be needed.

Renovations are underway at Milton Elementary, the Cape High expansion is progressing, and the footprint of the former Rehoboth High is being prepared to house basketball and pickle ball courts, and other outdoor amenities.

The state-funded Sussex Consortium will open in March. Fulton said 70 percent of Consortium students live in the Cape district; the other 30 percent come from other county districts. 

Fulton said a March 31 operating expense referendum would cost average homeowners $64 a year and generate $3 million in discretionary funds for current expenses. He said the community has overwhelmingly approved Cape referendums in prior years.

“The community understands the value of education but also expects results,” Fulton said. “It’s important to tell them why they should support us.”

Fulton said the district offers multiple academic and athletic extracurricular activities, and competes at state, national and international levels in robotics, business, Odyssey of the Mind and other events. Cape has more sports state championships than any public school, middle schools now offer world languages, and all elementaries offer the Spanish immersion program, he said.

Cape students consistently perform higher than state averages in standardized tests, Fulton said, and individual student scores have risen in proficiency each year. In eighth-grade math scores, for example, Fulton said 40 percent of Cape students earned a score of 4 - the highest level of proficiency.

“The rest of the state didn’t have 40 percent with 3s and 4s combined,” he said, noting district schools ranked first or second in nine out of 12 categories, with no schools ranking lower than fifth place.

While four district schools were recognized recently for gains in bridging the achievement gap in state test performance, Fulton said more work needs to be done to raise scores of African American students. 

Following Fulton’s address, administrators and teachers from the district’s nine schools hosted a gallery walk in the cafeteria, where they described student demographics, plans and goals.

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