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Sussex Tech High School News

Sussex Tech Looking to Build New High School - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Sussex Technical High School (Photo: WBOC)GEORGETOWN,Del.- Students were hard at work Wednesday inside Sussex Technical High School in Georgetown. But Superintendent AJ Lathbury said parts of the school are in major disrepair and in bad shape.

"We have sections of our building that are uninsulated, " he said. "They're single-wall construction, single-pane glass. They have air-filtration issues. It's hard to get good, clean air. Structural deficiencies."

To address these problems, Lathbury told WBOC that the district is now looking to build a brand new high school, with a price tag of $187 million.

On Aug. 31, the district filed for a certificate of necessity from the Delaware Department of Education. This is the fifth year in a row the district has filed for a certificate of necessity from the state. In each cycle, the Department of Education denied the request.

With an enrollment of 1, 250 students, the average price per student is $149, 600. Below is how that compares with other recent high school projects.

Sussex Tech High School (Proposed):

COST: $187 Million
ENROLLMENT: 1, 250 Students (Starting 2018).
AVG: $149, 600 Per Student

Dover High School (2014):

COST: $114, 334, 600
ENROLLMENT: 1, 800 Students
AVG: $63, 519 Per Student

Laurel High School and Middle School (2014)

COST: $53 Million
ENROLLMENT: 1, 200 Students
AVG: $44, 000 Per Student

Bennett High School - Salisbury, Md. (2010)

COST: $88 Million
ENROLLMENT: 1, 496 Students
AVG: $58, 823 Per Student

The numbers clearly illustrate that the project would be far more costly than the traditional high school. Lathbury said that this was due to the fact that the high school is a technical school.

"You're training students with supposedly the latest equipment and latest facilities, " he said. "They should be able to go seamlessly into the workforce."

The proposal is already creating some opposition amongst lawmakers. The school district has been at ends with the Delaware General Assembly in recent months over the way it has run it's finances. After months of debate, the General Assembly passed a bill that agreed to increase property taxes temporarily, but simultaneously mandated that the high school shrink it' enrollment by almost 300 students.

Rep. Daniel Short, the house minority leader from Seaford, said that reapplying so soon after this bill was signed into law was sure to reinvigorate the debate once again.

"The fact of the matter is that the financial situation warranted them wanting a tax increase, " he said. "We gave them something. Not what they wanted. And certainly not the zero that a lot of people were saying they should have got. And so now we're back into a whole discussion about the need and the ability to afford a new high school."

The Department of Education is likely to decide on the Certificate of Necessity by the end of the year. If approved, this would just be the first hurdle for the district. The next part of the process will be getting it included in an actual budget.

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