Cape set to request land-purchase approval

District office relocation will enable high school expansion
August 29, 2023

The Cape Henlopen school board unanimously approved a recommendation to submit requests to the state that, if approved, would allow for expansions at Cape High to accommodate the growing student population.

Following discussions at the July 21 and Aug. 16 school board meetings, Cape Director of Operations Jason Hale presented finalized information to the board Aug. 24 and recommended the district send two certificates of necessity for state approval.

Land purchase is a priority for a number of reasons, Hale said. He noted that property is in great demand in this area, so the earlier the district can purchase it, the better. Student needs come first, he said, so in order to expand the high school, the district office must be relocated.

The first certificate of necessity will seek approval for the purchase of a 103-acre parcel at Plantation and Cedar Grove roads west of Route 1, he said. The property would cost about $15.5 million and be funded 60/40, state/local. 

If state funding is denied for the large parcel, the district would request a smaller portion of that parcel, up to 59 acres, which would cost $8.9 million and be funded locally, Hale said. This parcel was selected, Hale said, because it is roughly the area that would be encapsulated in future Delaware Department of Transportation road improvements, giving the district flexibility with regard to access.

This certificate of necessity would include requests for a district office, natatorium complex and bus maintenance facility, Hale said. Estimated costs are $21 million for the district office, $6 million for the bus facility, and $40.6 million for the natatorium.

A second certificate of necessity would request site additions and renovations at Cape High, Hale said, and include necessary parking and stormwater management.

Estimated costs for sitework, demolition, a 40,000-square-foot classroom addition, and upgrades to athletic fields and facilities are about $68.7 million, Hale said, and would be split 60/40, state/local.

The certificates of necessity must be submitted by Aug. 31, Hale said, noting he expects to receive a response at the end of November. Based on the results, he said, the district will determine the path forward.

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