Sussex County Delaware

State Reps Want to
Merge School Districts

Education ...

Plan Would Turn Sussex
School Districts into One

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The State House of Representatives is asking the Department of Education to weigh the feasibility of replacing the current school districts in Kent and Sussex counties with two school districts serving each county.

State Representative Ben Ewing (R-Bridgeville) is the prime sponsor of House Resolution 54, that was passed this week by the lower chamber.

"Streamlining the operations of the 13 downstate school districts by consolidating them into two holds the promise of lowering costs while improving the focus on the education of our children," Rep. Ewing said.

"This resolution is intended to give us information to see if there is an opportunity here to increase accountability for school performance while reducing costs."

About one of every three dollars in the state operating budget is spent on public education. The governor's proposed operating budget for Fiscal Year 2003 recommended using $781.3 million from the state's General Fund to pay for public education.

There are 19 public school districts in Delaware, 13 of which are in Kent and Sussex counties.

Caesar Rodney, Capital, Lake Forest, Polytech and Smyrna* are in Kent County.

Cape Henlopen, Delmar, Indian River, Laurel, Seaford, and Sussex County Vo-tech are in Sussex County, while ,Woodbridge and Milford straddle both Sussex and Kent counties.

Joining Rep. Ewing on the bipartisan measure are: State Reps. Jerry Buckworth (R-Buchanan Arces), V. George Carey (R-Milford), Tina Fallon (R-Seaford), George "Bobby" Quillen (R-Harrington), Pam Thornburg (R-Cardinal Hills), Nancy Wagner (R-Dover), Charles West (D-Gumboro) and State House Majority Whip Biff Lee (R-Laurel).

State Rep. Jerry Buckworth, who spent a 32-year career with the Caesar Rodney School District as a teacher and administrator, says that lawmakers have previously examined the issue.

"This hasn't been looked at for a number of years and I think it's time we revisit it," he said. "There have been changes in the demographics of the counties and other circumstances that will affect the viability of this idea. If we have an opportunity to spend less money on administration and facilities and more money on the education of our kids, then I think we need to consider it."

HR 54 requests the Sec. of Education to report back to the House of Representatives by September 30, 2002.

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