By Lynn R. Parks

Residents of the Seaford School District answered with a resounding yes when asked in last week’s referendum if they were willing to pay more in school taxes.

Voters approved both questions on the referendum by 2-to-1 margins. The vote will mean that the taxes on the average home in the district will go up by nearly $100 a year.

The new tax will be more than $1 million in increased revenue to the district’s budget.

“This vote shows [that] the community supports our school system,” said superintendent Corey Miklus. And that support is something that the district has been working toward, he added.

“The district has been moving in a positive direction the last five school years,” Miklus said. “Our elementary schools continue to be recognized for their academic success. Our band and chorus programs continue to grow. We continue to align our [Career and Technical Education] programs to state expectations which provide hands-on learning experiences for our students.”

In addition, the state’s 2019 teacher of the year, Dana Bowe, is a special education instructor in the Sussex County Orthopedic Program at West Seaford Elementary.

“Because of all of that, we were able to take our message into the community and ask for its support,” Miklus said.

The first question posed by the referendum asked voters for permission to borrow $491,000 for installation of a new roof on the district’s Central Elementary School. Total cost of the project is estimated at $1.963 million. The district will use proceeds from the tax increase to pay 25 percent of that cost; the state will pay the remaining 75 percent.

Residents approved that request by a vote of 1,166 for and 526 against.

The second question, which was approved by a vote of 1,137 to 596, asked voters to OK a hike in taxes that fund everyday operating expenses. The influx of money will help the district pay increasing energy and transportation costs, Miklus said.

“The additional funds will also be used by the district to enhance the safety and security of our schools, upgrade and maintain technology across the district, recruit and retain highly qualified staff,” he added. “And it will help us continue our instructional and behavioral supports that are in place in our schools.”

The last time that voters in the school district approved an increase in current expense taxes was 14 years ago, in 2006. In 2011, voters OK’d a capital expense referendum for expansion of the high school.

In 2014, voters rejected a current expense tax hike. That vote was decided by a 4-to-1 margin, with 574 for the tax increase and 1,918 against.