Sussex Tech will add 200 students to its student body over the next four years under legislation passed unanimously in the General Assembly this week.
The news will likely be welcomed by many Sussex County parents. The school is extremely popular, with admission applications far outpacing available slots. Winners are selected via a lottery system.
The bill moves Sussex Tech closer to where it had been in 2015, when the school had a total enrollment of 1,545 students.
However, that same year, state legislators had to approve a temporary tax increase to help the school’s administrators bridge a budget shortfall. As part of the recovery plan, lawmakers reduced maximum enrollment to 1,250 students. Application requirements were also loosened to give any student eligible for promotion to the ninth grade a chance to attend the school.
Now under new leadership, the school is being given permission to gradually increase the number of students it serves by 50 per year for the next four years ending with a maximum enrollment of 1,450 in 2024-2025.
The move may help ease enrollment pressure in other Sussex high schools, as more students shift to Sussex Tech.
The bill also allows the school to raise taxes modestly to account for the higher operating costs of expanded enrollment. The current expense rate will rise from 23.5 cents to 26.5 cents in the first year of the plan, and then one additional cent per year for the next three years, topping out at 29.5 cents.
Based on current real estate values, the average Sussex County homeowner is expected to see an increase of approximately $5.70 in Year 1 and an additional $1.90 annually for the next three years — a total increase of $11.40 over the time span.
Recently appointed Sussex Tech Superintendent Dr. Kevin Carson says the school “has recommitted to providing high-quality vocational technical education opportunities for students interested in the professions and continued support of it’s evening adult education programs.”