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Indian River School District voters passed a referendum Thursday that plans to build a new Sussex Central High School.

More than 7,500 of the 12,071 voters (62.4%) approved the referendum, which the district said will bring a maximum tax increase of $63.71 phased in over a three-year period.

“I want to offer to my heartfelt thanks to our public for supporting this important initiative,” Superintendent Mark Steele said in a statement released by the district.

This was the district's third attempt over about a year to pass a tax hike.

“We are grateful that IRSD residents recognized the need for additional classroom space and approved our plan to solve overcrowding problems with the construction of only one new school. The district worked diligently to put forth a proposal that would address enrollment growth while also providing the best value to taxpayers. With the approval of this proposal, we can provide the best possible learning environment to the students of the Indian River School District for years to come. On behalf of our students, staff and Board of Education, I want to thank everyone who supported this referendum. You truly have the best interests of our students at heart.”

The district said Sussex Central was housing 1,800 students in a building designed for 1,500, and they expect the population to rise to 1,950 by 2024. The new school would be designed for 2,200 students.

Indian River said it plans to locate Millsboro Middle School to the existing Sussex Central High School while Millsboro would then create a new elementary school. Those changes will come without a property tax increase.

The new Sussex Central High School will be built next to the current building, on land the district already owns. The current high school athletic complex would remain in place and be used by the new building.

The current Sussex Central High School opened in 2004.