Sussex Tech Proposes $150.5 Million Project
GEORGETOWN, Del.- The Sussex Technical School District is hoping to transform its campus with a new building.
This month Sussex Tech's Board authorized plans to pursue the $150.5 million project, which would replace the existing structures, improve equipment and allow for more students. The plan was the cheapest option outlined in a feasibility study. Sussex Tech says renovating only the oldest parts of the complex and continuing patchwork repairs to the newer wings would have cost $190.2 million, whereas renovating the entire school complex would have been $177.6 million.
"We have reoriented our focus. We are back to a tech-centric school," says Superintendent Stephen Guthrie. "The building is a part of that vision but we are returning to our roots: we want to provide a solid technical education for the students that attend."
Guthrie says the district's buildings are showing their age, with failing HVAC systems, patched roofs, cracked walls, and even sinkholes in parking lots--issues Sussex Tech says its spent $14 million trying to repair.
“Those costs will rise as the campus continues to age. Our engineering consultant has concluded that renovation is only a Band-Aid solution – paying good money for what is only a temporary fix,” Guthrie says. “We are answerable to Sussex County taxpayers, and it is neither right nor ethical to continue to sink their money into an inefficient building with outdated and wasteful mechanical systems that are expensive to operate.”
The district will be applying for a certificate of necessity with the Delaware Department of Education, which is the first step for securing funding. Next would be receiving legislative approval for a property tax increase, which would cost the average homeowner $38.13 a year at its peak. The number would decrease as the project nears completion.
Senator Brian Pettyjohn says he's seen the Sussex Tech conditions firsthand and the district's financial request will be taken seriously by all state legislators.
"We are going to have to deliberate this," he explains. "It is going to have to go through a full vetting process, not only from the Sussex County legislators but the entire General Assembly."
The district says the project would also address security upgrades and help traffic issues as well.
The district has created a FAQ and informational page on its website on the proposed project.