Indian River budget maintains service with projected growth

SELBYVILLE – Staff increases coinciding with milestone student enrollment growth is reflected in the Indian River School District’s 2016 fiscal year budget.

The local discretionary budget – approved by IRSD’s board of education July 27 – totals just under $50 million.

That does not count $8 million in federal funds and $11 million in construction funding. Counting all funding sources, the district’s overall budget is about $127 million.

Indian River, geographically the largest public school district in Delaware and the fastest growing district in the state, anticipates its enrollment this year will increase by several hundred students, surpassing the 10,000 plateau.

Last year’s district enrollment was 9,800 students.

“As of Aug. 9 (2015), we had 9,995 students. We are projecting we will have somewhere around 10,200. That is going to generate – as it has in the past three, four years – at least 25 new positions,” said Patrick Miller, Indian River’s Finance Director. “So we were able to maintain the current level of service that we have, with the addition of anticipated 25 additional staff members associated with additional student growth.”

Indian River enters the 2015-16 year with contractual agreements with all unions except custodial, which is scheduled to come to the bargaining table, Mr. Miller said.

An estimated $3.7 million in local funds will augment state funding for construction projects at Phillip Showell Elementary, Selbyville Middle School and Georgetown Elementary School.

Notable allocations in the FY16 budget include:

  • additional monies allocated in the schools’ budgets for instructional supplies and materials due to outright need;
  • approximately $500,000 in new text book acquisition for major curriculum adoptions; and
  • progress in technology, Internet/wireless access in support for the One-on-One computer initiative for all incoming ninth graders.

In supporting educational operations, Indian River district is asking slightly less from property owners/taxpayers.

In July, buoyed by a reduction in debt service, the IRSD school board approved a slight decrease in the overall tax rate, which translates to $1.12 in taxpayer savings for every $28,000 in assessment.

It marks the second consecutive year the Indian River School District lowered its property tax rate.

Sussex County tax bills, which go out this month, include local school taxes, which the County collects and turns over to the state. Tax collection is running above par, Mr. Miller said.

“The County is doing very well pursuing delinquent and back taxes. We do have a relatively high 90- percent collection rate, but the penalties and interest take us over 100 percent,” said Mr. Miller. “Because the County has really been pursuing the collection of these delinquent taxes, it has made a world of difference.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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