District reforms choice program in effort to address overcrowding

SELBYVILLE, Del. – If you plan to choice your child into Indian River School District, you may be out of luck. The school board voted to put a moratorium on school choice applications.

Effective immediately, all students, outside or inside of the district, can no longer be choiced to a school at 85 percent capacity or higher.

Currently, the only schools in the district under 85 percent capacity that are open to all students are Showell Elementary, John M. Clayton Elementary and Long Neck Elementary.

Superintendent Mark Steele said, “it’s a hard decision. And we did say that we would have to come back when the referendum failed, we’re going to have to make some hard decisions.”

Some we spoke with agree as more students come in, the decision was necessary.

“As the population expands, they do need to put some kind of guidelines on it,” said Marcy Medford, a parent of a senior at Indian River High School.

Students already choiced in are grandfathered. However, those same choice students transitioning to middle school or high school will have to re-apply, a policy that was already instated by the district.

“Once they re-apply, it doesn’t matter if they’re priority one through priority seven, it doesn’t matter. They, right now, if that building that they’re trying to go to is at 85 percent, they will not be accepted into that building,” Steele said.

Some parents are already feeling the effects.

Mike Hennigan, a Georgetown resident, has one child that attends Lord Baltimore with another entering school this fall. He’s now being told by the district that his daughter will have to attend Georgetown Elementary, a 35-minute drive between both schools for the family.

“They are not overcrowded. The Georgetown Elementary is overcrowded. We want to get her down to Lord Baltimore with her brother. And they are denying us access to that.”

Steele says though this may be an unpopular decision for many, it was necessary and may be the beginning of more unpopular decisions to come. Because, just like some local kids now, they are left with no choice.

Children that wish to be choiced in to schools over 85 percent capacity will be added to a wait list, and if those schools ever fall below 85 percent capacity there will be a lottery to pick new students based on a number of priorities.

The district is considering a third referendum. They will have to go through the certificate of necessity process with DOE.

DOE would then determine if Indian River would receive funding for 60 percent of the cost of renovations and a new high school, funding that would only be given to the district if they passed a referendum to fund the other 40 percent.

Categories: Delaware, Education, Local News