Red Clay hasn't had a certificate of necessity approved by the state in over a decade.

Red Clay again to seek $289M from state for capital projects

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Red Clay hasn't had a certificate of necessity approved by the state in over a decade.

Red Clay hasn’t had a certificate of necessity approved by the state in over a decade.

Red Clay Consolidated School District will once again ask the Department of Education for $289 million for maintenance and programs.

The district has not been successful in having its request, called a certificate of necessity, filled for the past 11 years.

In its board meeting Wednesday night, Superintendent Dorrell Green recommended asking for $289 million, and the board voted to do so.

It’s the same amount that has been rejected the past two years, Green pointed out. 

RELATED: State rejects Red Clay’s $265 million request

The request includes three asks:  $61,215,575 for capital improvement, $204,947,371 for deferred maintenance and $22,837,054 for programmatic costs.

“I implore our state to really put what our needs are as being the biggest school district in the state of Delaware,” said board member Kecia Nesmith, “and so I’m hopeful that this year this will be approved.”

The money will assist in the completion of capital projects at 29 Red Clay schools. 

Specifically, the money will go to:

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“I have to pay my respects to the men and women who work day-in and day-out to maintain our buildings,” said Board President Jose Matthews Thursday. “Their untold stories and due diligence to uphold the integrity of our facilities, without having all the tools and resources to do so, is a testament to the dedicated workforce we have.”

Even when the state’s funding system fails, he said, Red Clay employees do whatever it takes and they do it for the children.

“Our children and staff deserve to be in schools that are safe, well-maintained and conducive to learning,” he said. “It’s been over a decade since the state’s last approval, which I find unacceptable, considering a district that has historically lowered taxes twice in the last five years.”

Fiscal responsibility is a point of pride, he said.

“This now marks the board’s third year supporting the submission of a new certificate of necessity application,” he said. “Plant maintenance issues, raised years ago, are now beyond repair and when safety becomes a concern, I can’t help but to take this approval process and the state’s control into question.”

The board also approved the district’s proposed budget for the 2023-2024 school year. It’s $276,736,527 in operating expenditures is a 7% increase over last year’s budget. 

“It is important to note that this budget continues to deficit spend,” the budget document said in bold letters. “Without additional local revenues, expenditures will need to be significantly reduced in future budget years.”

The deficit is one reason the board is asking for the certificate of necessity.

Tax rates for Red Clay residents remain unchanged for the third year in a row. 

Also Wednesday, the board approved a request from the Wilmington Learning Collaborative’s governing council’s to give it an extra year for planning.

Red Clay, Christina and Brandywine make up the collaborative, which is focused on improving academic and social outcomes for students in nine city of Wilmington elementary schools.

The governing board asked for a planning extension because it took longer than expected to seat the board and find an executive director, Laura Burgos.

RELATED: ‘I’m ready to go’ says WLC’s first exec. director Burgos

Allowing the 2023-2024 school year to be a planning year lets her complete the root cause and needs assessments while  meeting school personnel and formalizing a program.

Christina has already approved the amendment.

RELATED: Christina first to OK extension of WLC planning period

Brandywine’s board will vote Aug. 21 on the amendment. Watch that meeting, which starts at 7 p.m., here

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