Support education at Cape referendum

March 22, 2024

The Cape Region community has an opportunity Tuesday, March 26, to support students, teachers and district staff by approving the latest referendum so the district can keep pace with residential development. 

Despite additions to the high school in 2021, the building is already over capacity and needs another expansion. Therein lies the problem. 

To expand the school, the district office and bus maintenance facility must move off campus. Since there is no other district-owned land available, officials found and have under contract a parcel on Cedar Grove Road. The 102-acre site has plenty of space for the district office, a bus maintenance facility, a natatorium and another future school or district building. With land costs steadily rising, it makes financial sense to buy now. If this referendum fails, the next land purchase will have a higher price tag. 

The district will soon need to use that land, as its student population has grown by about 1,500 in the last 10 years, and will continue to rise. 

The proposed pool, at $36 million, appears to be a sticking point for some. But a 50-meter pool would set Cape apart from any other district in the state. It would attract regional tournaments, and also serve district students and their families.

The second piece of the referendum is also critical. The district’s biweekly payroll expense is about $1 million. In recent years, the district has committed to improving school safety and security. One major step was hiring student resource officers or constables for every district school. In addition, more funding from this proposed tax increase would go toward technology, curriculum needs and athletic facility maintenance, and support for energy and utilities. 

When fully applied in fiscal year 2027, the district’s ask is for $153 more per year from the average property owner. In the prior and following years, the tax is estimated to be a little lower. The proposed increase is not insignificant, but it is necessary to keep Cape among the top public school districts in the state. Supporting and nurturing Cape’s teachers and students can only improve the quality of life for every resident in eastern Sussex County. We believe the community should support Cape in the March 26 referendum. 

  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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