The Christina School Board meets on February 12, 2020

The Christina School Board meets on February 12, 2020

The Christina School District Board approved the rates for their latest referendum proposals that will be voted on by taxpayers on June 9, 2020.

After their latest attempt in April 2019 failed, the district was forced to make many cuts, cuts Board President Meredith Griffin hopes can be reversed in this vote. 

"The biggest cut that we had last year was in teachers. We let go of a lot of teachers last year, we didn't renew many temporary contracts, and we had to let go of five or six permanent contracts. That increased our class sizes significantly. This will allow us to get our class sizes more normalized."

The main part of their 2020 ask is a property rate increase of 29 cents per 100 dollars of assessed property value.  That's down from the 34 cents proposal that worked out to about $18.16 per month for the average home in the district. Specific numbers for these new rates were not available.

It comes with a catch, with a 5-cent further increase coming in both years two and three of the three-step increase.

Griffin said 20 cents of that is to simply deal with increased costs to run the district at its current levels, avoiding even more cuts while the extra money had a specific intent.

"That 9 cents allows us to reverse the cuts we had to make when the referendum failed, but also gives us the opportunity to offer our employees in bargaining units--teachers, secretaries, and others--an opportunity to renegotiate contracts and have an increase."

In addition, voters who vote "yes" to the increase will have the option to increase the 29 cents to 34 cents so they can establish a new English and Language Arts (ELA) curriculum.

A third part of the referendum ballot will be on the capital side, which looks to raise $10,080,500, or 1.33 cents, for a series of projects.

Items brought up at Wednesday's board meeting included a new HVAC unit for Leasure Elementary, four new classrooms at Downes Elementary, finishing the improved science labs at Christiana High School, and renovating Newark High School's auditorium with a focus more on arts programs at the school.

The push to pass the referendum plan past the voters will come at a complicated time for the district, as it begins searching for a replacement for Superintendent Richard Gregg, who will step down on June 30.