Dr. Mark Holodick is Delaware’s secretary of education.
As Delaware’s secretary of education, I am entrusted with overseeing and improving educational systems throughout the state. A crucial part of this responsibility is making sure schools have the resources they need to provide a quality education to all students. In Delaware, one of the key mechanisms for securing these resources is through school referendums.
School referendums typically involve proposals for tax increases or bond issuances to support various aspects of education, such as infrastructure improvements, hiring additional staff and expanding educational programs. Referendums are fundamental to the democratic process, allowing communities to have a direct say in the funding and operation of their local schools.
Over the next few months, six districts will pursue referendums: Brandywine (Tuesday), Red Clay Consolidated (Feb. 28), Colonial (Feb. 29), Smyrna (March 9), Cape Henlopen (March 26) and Appoquinimink (April 23).
The importance of school referendums cannot be overstated, especially in a state like Delaware, where local control over education is highly valued. Giving residents the opportunity to vote on funding measures ensures that decisions about education investments are made at the grassroots level, reflecting the priorities and values of each community.
Adequate funding is critical for providing students access to modern facilities, technology and resources. It allows us to attract and retain talented educators, offer a diverse array of academic and extracurricular opportunities, and support students with diverse needs. Without support garnered through school referendums, schools may be forced to make difficult decisions, such as cutting programs or deferring essential maintenance, which can have profound consequences for students, hindering their educational experiences and potentially limiting opportunities.
Moreover, quality schools attract families to neighborhoods, driving property values and fostering economic development. They produce skilled workforces, which are essential for creating businesses and driving innovation.
Despite all the benefits, passing referendums can be a daunting task, requiring extensive community engagement and communication to overcome skepticism and opposition.
As a former teacher, school principal, district superintendent and now secretary of education, I continue to believe in the importance of supporting local referendums. We must work together to strengthen our education system, so we can create a brighter future for our students, as well as our state.
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