In the wake of the tragic school shootings in Sandy Hook, Connecticut in December 2012, the Indian River Board of Education made a commitment to enhancing the safety and security of all IRSD students.
This commitment resulted in the Board’s hiring of a full-time armed safety monitor for every school. The monitors, who are all former law enforcement officers, went on duty in September 2013 and are currently in their fourth year serving the Indian River School District. All safety monitors are licensed as constables by State of Delaware. This designation gives them detainment powers on school grounds and allows for additional tactical and firearms training.
When the Indian River School District hosts a current expense referendum on March 2, 2017, eight cents of the proposed 49-cent property tax increase will be used for school safety. This will generate an additional $1.2 million per year for security initiatives, including the 15 school safety monitors.
“The Board of Education showed tremendous foresight four years ago by placing armed safety monitors in all of our schools,” IRSD Superintendent Susan Bunting said. “This program has been a rousing success, and we want to maintain the quality of these services in the future. The district has expended $1.2 million in local funds every year since 2013 to place these valuable personnel in our schools. This amounts to a total investment of $3.6 million since the program’s inception. The peace of mind our safety monitors have given students, staff and parents is invaluable. We hope our community will partner with us to ensure the continued protection of every IRSD student for years to come.”
Voting on March 2 will be from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Residents of the Indian River School District who are U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age are eligible to vote at any one of the following polling places: East Millsboro Elementary School, Georgetown Elementary School, Indian River High School, Long Neck Elementary School, Lord Baltimore Elementary School and Selbyville Middle School. Proof of identification or residency is required at each polling place. Residents DO NOT have to be property owners in order to vote. (In the event of inclement weather, the referendum will be rescheduled for Thursday, March 16.)
Revenue from the school safety portion of the proposed tax increase will ensure the continued funding of the district’s 15 school safety monitors. It will also help fund five School Resource Officers; two district investigators; physical improvements to doors and windows; the purchase of radios, card readers, school and bus cameras, and other security devices.
If the referendum is not approved by voters, the district could face cuts to various school safety initiatives. In addition, the district could see significant reductions in staff due to an inability to meet payroll, larger class sizes, further discretionary budget cuts, the loss of staff to other school districts and inadequate instructional supplies and materials.
“The future of the Indian River School District rides on the outcome of the March 2 referendum,” Bunting said. “We believe the additional tax is a small price to pay to ensure the safety and security of our students and to maintain the quality of instruction they receive in our schools.”
In July 2016, the district produced a podcast highlighting the school safety monitor program. To listen to this episode, visit irsd.net and go to the “Podcast: IRSD Spotlight” link under the Discover IRSD tab. Click on “Episode 8: School Safety Monitors.”
Anyone with questions about referendum is encouraged to call the district’s Referendum Hotline at (302) 436-1079 or visit irsd.net/referendum.
Voters on March 2 must reside within the boundaries of the Indian River School District, be U.S. citizens at least 18 years of age, and provide identification at the polling place. Acceptable proofs of identity, name and address include, but are not limited to, State of Delaware driver’s license; State of Delaware automobile registration card; State of Delaware ID card; work ID with photo and address; credit card with photograph and signature; document identifying person by photograph or signature; recent utility bill, rent receipt, business letter setting forth the person’s address or telephone directory listing in the current issue of the phone book; or any other reasonable document that identifies the person’s address.
Residents DO NOT have to be property owners in order to vote in the referendum.
Absentee voting is handled by the Sussex County Department of Elections at 119 North Race Street in Georgetown. Absentee ballots are available by mail until noon on February 24 and in person until noon on March 1. For more information, contact the Department of Elections at (302) 856-5367.