Neither issue in the Milford School District's two-fold referendum passed today after more than 1,800 local residents cast their ballots, according to official results provided by the Department of Elections for Kent County.
Neither issue in the Milford School District’s two-fold referendum passed today after more than 1,800 local residents cast their ballots, according to unofficial results provided by the Department of Elections for Kent County.
The district presented the two-fold referendum, with the first ballot question requesting the public’s approval of bonds to finance the demolition and rebuild of the Milford Middle School and the second ballot question requesting school tax increases to fund a yearly $2.1 million operating budget.
The bond issue request was rejected, with 842 votes in favor and 1,020 votes against. The current expense issue was rejected with 769 votes in favor and 1,074 votes against, according to the official tally results, which include absentee ballots, provided by the Department of Elections for Kent County.
Milford School District Superintendent Phyllis Kohel said she was disappointed with the results, but said the outcome was not necessarily reflective of the community’s support of the district.
“This has always been a very supportive community,” she said. “It’s a bad time.”
Kohel speculated that residents may have been dissuaded by the district’s proposed tax increases with Gov. Jack Markell’s ongoing campaigns concerning a possible gas tax increase and needed funding for the Clean Water for Delaware’s Future plan.
While the next steps for the district are yet to be decided by Kohel and the Board of Education, both Kohel and Milford Board of Education President Marvin Schelhouse expect that another referendum may be sought in six months.
“It is a critical need for this district,” Kohel said. “We’ll have to regroup and talk to our community and come back to another referendum.”
Schelhouse said that with the district’s deficit spending in the last few years, the district will be financially secure for another year, but will be facing the decision of possible cuts to staffing and programming if the current expense tax is not approved in a future referendum.
“If we didn’t’ have a reserve, just imagine where we’d be right now,” Schelhouse said. “Education is so important, I can never emphasize the importance of educating kids enough, and I don’t want to see that hurt because of this situation.”