CHAPTER 186 - SCHOOL BUILDINGS

AN ACT TO PROVIDE IMPROVED SCHOOL BUILDINGS, SCHOOL GROUNDS AND SCHOOL EQUIPMENT IN THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS OF THIS STATE, AND RELATING TO THE COST THEREOF AND MAKING APPROPRIATION OF CERTAIN STATE MONEYS IN CONNECTION THEREWITH.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met:

Section 1. The State Treasurer is hereby directed to set aside immediately from moneys in his hands to the credit of the School Fund in a special account in the Farmers Bank of the State of Delaware to be known as the "State School Building Account" the sum of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00).

The said State School Building Account shall be credited with interest when and to the same extent as the said Bank credits interest on deposits of other State moneys in said Bank.

Two-fifths of the money deposited in the State School Building Account by the State Treasurer as aforesaid, together with interest as aforesaid, shall be devoted to school building improvements in the consolidated school districts in the City of Wilmington and the remainder, or so much thereof as may be necessary, shall be devoted to school building improvements in the districts in the State outside of the City of Wilmington and to the expense of carrying the provisions of this Act into effect.

The term "improvement" and the term "school building improvement" where used in this Act shall be deemed and construed to mean new school buildings, and, or school grounds, and, or additions to, alterations or' remodeling of old school buildings, or additional school grounds, and the furnishing and equipping thereof.

Section 2. The State Board of Education shall as soon as practicable after the adoption of this Act, prepare a tentative program for school building improvements for such of the school districts and special school districts in this State, outside of the consolidated school districts in the City of Wilmington, wherein the existing school buildings and, or school grounds are inadequate or unhygienic.

The State Board of Education shall submit to the Board of School Trustees or the Board of Education of each district included in the said program the general character and nature of the school building improvements proposed for such district and shall hear the comments and suggestions thereon of the members of such Board.

The State Board of Education shall submit to the School Building Commission which already exists or hereafter in this Act is created of each particular district, its aforesaid school building program for such district. The School Building Commission under this Act created shall be composed of four members of the State Board of Education and four members to be elected by the voters of each district at the same time as the bonds herein provided are authorized, said members to serve during the life of the said School Building Commission for said district. In case of the death of one of the members elected to said School Building Commission, the surviving members of said Commission shall appoint some suitable person to fill the vacancy thereby created.

The said four members elected as hereinafter provided, to the said School Building Commission, shall have equal authority and power to act in all respect as have the four members of the State Board of Education who are hereby made members of the said School Building Commission.

Section 3. No school district or special school district in this State, except the consolidated school districts in the City of Wilmington, shall have any portion of the cost of any school building improvement in such district accomplished under the provisions of this Act paid for out of moneys in the State School Building Account aforesaid, unless such district shall contribute such sum of money toward the payment of the cost of such school building improvement as the State Board of Education shall assign as the contribution of said district. The amount to be contributed by a district as aforesaid shall be determined by the State Board of Education as follows: Where no school building improvements have been made in the district since the first day of January, 1900, the contribution of the district toward the cost of school building improvements under this Act shall be a sum equal to two per centum of the assessed value of the real and personal property in such district as shown by the county assessment in force during the year 1919. Where any school building improvements have been made in any district since January 1, 1900, the contribution of the district toward the cost of school building improvements shall be a sum .equal to two per centum of the assessed value of the real and personal property in such district as shown by the county assessment in force during the year 1919, less the aggregate amount of the bonds of the district issued since the year 1900 (without regard to whether any or all of the bonds have been paid). Provided, however, that no district shall have credit for bonds which have been paid by the State. Where school building improvements have been made aforesaid, the State Board shall make the deductions as aforesaid and the remainder, if any, shall constitute the amount which the district must contribute toward the payment of the cost of the school building improvement in such district in order to obtain the benefit of the provisions of this Act. Provided that in any case where school building improvements have been made, as aforesaid, and the district bonded to an amount equal to two per centum of the assessment in force during the year 1919 (without regard to whether any of the bonds have since been paid) the entire cost of the school building improvement in such district shall be paid for out of moneys in the State School Building Account aforesaid. And provided, further, that when and if the State Board of Education shall decide that a Junior and Senior High School or a Senior High School or a four-year High School providing accommodations for high school pupils from four or more attendance districts, shall be constructed or shall be added to or improved, then and in either of such cases, it shall not be necessary for the districts so to be served to raise two per cent of the 1919 assessment as in other cases specified in this Act, but the entire cost of such school building improvement for such districts shall be paid for out of moneys in the School Building Account aforesaid. No bond issued under the provisions of this Section shall come due before July 1, 1936.

Section 4. The State Board of Education shall, as soon as practicable, notify the Board of School Trustees or Board of Education of each district in the State (except the consolidated school districts in the City of Wilmington) wherein a school building improvement under the provisions of this Act is contemplated, of the probable cost of such improvement and of the amount of money, if any, that such district will be expected to contribute toward the cost thereof. Every such Board shall, within one month thereafter, adopt by a majority vote of said Board, a resolution for or against the contemplated improvement in that district and shall forthwith transmit to the State Board of Education a copy of such resolution certified to by the Clerk or Secretary of the Board.

If the resolution adopted by any board as aforesaid be against the proposed school building improvement, the State Board of Education may, in its discretion, make and submit to such local Board a new or modified plan of the school building improvement in such district, and in such case the local board shall forthwith adopt by a majority vote of the members thereof a resolution for or against such new or modified plan and shall immediately thereafter transmit a copy of such resolution to the State Board of Education. If the local Board shall not adopt a resolution favorable to the school building improvement, whether as originally contemplated or as subsequently Modified by the State Board of Education for such district, such improvement shall not be made under the provisions of this Act; provided that if the local board shall be petitioned in writing by twenty-five of the voters of such district so to do, the matter shall be submitted to the voters of the district at a special election to be called, held and conducted as provided by Section 54, Chapter 160, Volume 32, Laws of Delaware, as amended, except that in the advertisement and notices of the election, it shall be sufficient to state in substance that a referendum on the subject of a school building improvement in the district will be held on a specified day at a specified place between specified hours, and except also that the ballots of such special election shall be marked, "for the school building improvement", or "against the school building improvement", and if a majority of the ballots cast at such special election shall be for the school building improvement, the result of such election shall be equivalent to and have the same effect as a resolution of the local board of the district favorable to the school building improvement.

Section 5. In every case where the contemplated improvement involved an assumption by the district of any portion of the cost thereof, the Board of Education or the Board of School Trustees of the district shall as soon as practicable after the adoption of a resolution for the school building improvement, or after a referendum favorable to the improvement under Section 4 of this Act, proceed to raise the amount of money required as the district's share of the cost of the improvement aforesaid by the issue and sale of bonds precisely as specified in Section 53 of the Act entitled, An Act to provide for the establishment and maintenance of a general and efficient system of free public schools", approved March 31, 1921, as amended (the said local board having first taken the procedure specified in said Section 53 to authorize the issue of bonds) and all the provisions of said Section 53 shall be deemed and held applicable to every such case aforesaid precisely as if the provision of said Section 53 were repeated herein; provided, however, that every such Board of Education or Board of School Trustees may accept and receive gifts for all or any portion of the amount required to be contributed by the district toward the cost of the school building improvement therein and in such case it shall not be necessary to proceed under the provisions of Section 53 as aforesaid except to the extent of any difference, if any there be, between the aggregate of such gifts and the amount required to be contributed by the district toward the cost of the school building improvement therein.

If the district shall through its local board within three months after the approval of the school building improvement therein by a resolution of the local board or by a referendum as provided in Section 4 of this Act pay to the State Treasurer the full amount required as its contribution to the cost of the school building improvement therein, the State Board of Education shall direct the School Building Commission which already exists, or hereinafter in this Act is created, to proceed with the work necessary to accomplish such school building improvement.

In the case of any district which is not required under the provisions of this Act to make any contribution toward the cost of the school building improvement therein, the State Board of Education is authorized upon the receipt of a certified copy of a resolution in favor of such improvement, adopted by a majority vote of the School Trustees or Board of Education of such district, to direct the School Building Commission to proceed with the work necessary to accomplish such improvement.

Section 6. The moneys paid to the State Treasurer by each district as its contributions to the cost of the school building improvement therein under the provisions of this Act, shall be deposited by the State Treasurer in the Farmers Bank of the State of Delaware in a special account to be known as the "School Building Account for District _____ in _____ County." Every such special account shall be credited with interest when and to the same extent as the said bank credits interest on deposits of State moneys in said bank. The moneys in the respective special accounts aforesaid shall be devoted to the cost of the school building improvements of the district for which the special account was opened. The moneys in the said special school building accounts of the several districts shall be subject only to the check or order of the State Treasurer.

Section 7. On the application of the State Board of Education or the Board of Education or Board of School Trustees of a district, it shall be the duty of the Board of Assessment of the County in which a school building improvement is to be made, to cause to be made from the assessment records of the County or Counties in which the district is located, a list of all the taxables of the district, the property of each taxable and the assessed value thereof for the year 1919, and shall deliver the same to the State Board of Education or to the local board of the district; such list shall constitute the assessment list of such district for the purpose of this Act and on which the two per cent bond issue herein provided shall be based; provided that the Board of Assessment be furnished with a true and correct description of the boundaries of the district in question.

Section 8. That there is hereby created a Commission to be known as "School Building Commission" for each district (in which a School Building Commission does not already exist under authorization of previous Acts of the General Assembly) in which such improvements are made under the provisions of this Act to be composed of eight members, four of whom shall be members of the State Board of Education, who shall be designated by the President of the said State Board to serve in this capacity, and four of whom shall be elected in each district at the same election at which the bond issue in such district is authorized (as hereinbefore in this Act provided).

Provided, however, that in case a district shall have passed by a majority vote of the taxables since the year 1919 a referendum authorizing an issue of bonds for school improvement such as are contemplated in this Act and no additional referendum is required therefor, then, and in that case, a special election of the voters of the said district shall be held for the selection of four residents and legal voters of the said district, who shall constitute the local membership of the School Building Commission of the district. Such election shall be held in accordance with the same provisions as those set up for the holding of a bond election as set forth in Section 5 of this Act, except that the ballots used shall have printed or written thereon the names of at least four candidates to serve as members of the said Commission. The four candidates who shall receive a majority of all votes cast as such election shall constitute the local membership of the Commission, as aforesaid.

And provided, further, that if a School Building Commission as authorized in former Acts of the General Assembly is already in existence in such district, no new Commission under the provisions of this section shall be necessary.

Section 9. No act of the School Building Commission for any district shall be binding unless a majority of the members of the Commission herein provided shall concur therein.

The members of the said Commission in each of said districts shall receive no compensation for their services but all members of the said School Building Commission, for any district, shall be paid their actual expenses incurred while engaged in the affairs of the Commission.

Section 10. Whenever it is desired by the State Board of Education the said School Building Commission in any district or districts shall cause to be prepared such plans and details for the accomplishment of any improvements in the school building program of the State Board of Education as shall be necessary or proper for the construction thereof.

All plans and details prepared by or under the order of any School Building Commission for any district shall be approved by a majority of the members of said Commission before its adoption.

Before any School Building Commission shall undertake to carry out any particular school building improvement or to make any contract therefor, the said Commission shall ascertain the cost of such improvement. If the State Board of Education shall deem the cost of such improvement to be in excess of the amount which is or may be available under the provisions of this Act for such improvement, then the said School Building Commission may modify the proposed improvement until plans and details have been made for an improvement which will not be greater than the amount available as aforesaid.

Section 11. It shall be the province and duty of the School Building Commission for any particular district or districts to cause the school building improvements authorized by the State Board of Education and approved by said School Building Commission under the provisions of this Act to be constructed.

The said Commission shall have power to make and enter into all contracts for the construction of the improvements aforesaid, and for labor, materials, supplies, instrumentalities, furniture and equipment required to accomplish any such improvement, provided that no improvement shall be made involving an expenditure of Five Hundred Dollars or more, unless the same shall be advertised and the contract given to the lowest and best bidder therefor, the said Commission reserving the right to reject any and all bids.

The School Building Commission in each district shall supervise or cause to be supervised by some one or more of its employees the work of the construction of any improvement as aforesaid.

Section 12. The Secretary of the State Board of Education shall be the general secretary of all the School Building Commissions that have in charge the construction or improvement of all the school buildings of the State under the provisions of this Act, except those in the consolidated school districts of the City of Wilmington, and as such secretary, he shall be the accountant of each Commission and the said Commission shall cause its Secretary to inaugurate and maintain a system of accounting which shall show in detail the expenditures of each Commission, the cost of each school building improvement, and such other details as the State Board of Education from time to time may require.

The various School Building Commissions shall have power to employ an engineer or engineers and an architect or architects and such other employees as the various School Building Commissions shall deem essential to the proper and expeditious performance of its duties under this Act, and to fix their salaries and their length of service and to dismiss them for any cause which the various School Building Commissions shall deem sufficient. The School Building Commission in each district shall have power to do all things requisite or proper for the execution of the duties of said Building Commission throughout the State.

Section 13. The said School Building Commissions may require bonds from any of their employees and from all persons contracting for the construction of school building improvements authorized by the said School Building Commissions under this Act and from all persons contracting for labor, or materials, supplies, instrumentalities, furniture and equipment in the accomplishment of any school building improvement under this Act.

Section 14. All bills for the expenses of the said School Building Commissions and for the salaries of their employees and for the cost of each school building improvement authorized under this Act must be marked "approved" and such approval signed by the Chairman or Vice-Chairman and attested by the Secretary or Acting Secretary of said Commission.

Section 15. The School Building Commissions shall have no jurisdiction over nor any duties with regard to any school building improvement in the consolidated school districts in the City of Wilmington.

Section 16. Three-fifths of the moneys deposited in the State School Building Account by the State Treasurer provided in Section 1 of this Act, together with interest thereon as provided in Section 1 of this Act (or so much thereof as may be necessary) are to be devoted to the following purposes and none other, namely, to the payment of the expenses of the School Building Commissions created by this Act or already in existence and to the salaries and compensations of their employees (including their engineers and architects) and to the cost of the school building improvements authorized under the provisions of this Act.

The State Board of Education shall certify to the State Auditor and also to the State Treasurer the amount of money which the school building improvement in each district outside of the City of Wilmington will cost and what portion of said amount is to be paid out of the State School Building Account and what portion to be paid out of the special school building account of the district.

The School Building Commissions shall, when and as funds are required (and not until then) for the payment of the expenses of said Commissions, its engineers, architects or other employees, or for the payment of the cost of school building improvements authorized under this Act draw warrants on the State Treasurer for the moneys required signed by the Chairman or Vice-Chairman and attested by the Secretary or Acting Secretary of said Commissions, and deliver the same to the State Auditor, who shall thereupon deliver them to the State Treasurer, and the State Treasurer shall pay the same. In paying warrants as aforesaid, the State Treasurer shall be governed by the certificate of the State Board of Education hereinbefore provided as to the cost of the school building improvements in the respective districts included in the school building program of the State Board of Education and as to what portion of said cost shall be paid out of the State School Building Account and what portion thereof out of the special school building account of the district.

Section 17. Two-fifths of the moneys deposited in the State School Building Account by the State Treasurer as provided in Section 1 of this Act, together with interest thereon as provided in Section 1 of this Act (or so much thereof as may be necessary) shall be devoted to school building programs in the City of Wilmington.

The construction of school building programs in the City of Wilmington shall be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Board of Public Education in Wilmington. The said Board of Public Education is authorized and empowered to make all contracts and do all things necessary or proper to secure such programs in the City of Wilmington, provided that the cost thereof shall not exceed in the aggregate the aforesaid two-fifths of the moneys deposited in the State School Building Account by the State Treasurer as provided in Section 1 of this Act, together with interest thereon as provided in Section 1 of this Act.

The Board of Public Education in Wilmington shall when and as funds are required (and not until then) for the payment of the cost of school building programs in the City of Wilmington draw warrants on the State Treasurer for the moneys required signed by its President or Vice-President and attested by its Secretary or Acting Secretary and deliver the same to the State Auditor, who shall thereupon deliver them to the State Treasurer, and the State Treasurer shall pay the same out of the State School Building Account aforesaid up to (and not in excess of) the proportion of the moneys in the said State School Building Account to be devoted to School Building Programs in the City of Wilmington as hereinbefore stated.

The Board of Public Education in Wilmington shall keep accurate detailed accounts of the cost of each improvement made in the City of Wilmington under the provisions of this Act and of all moneys expended by said Board therefor. Such accounts shall be deemed to be public records.

Section 18. The State Board of Education is authorized and empowered, in its discretion, to extend the time in any case where a time limit is set in this Act.

Section 19. No money in the State School Building Account or in any of the special accounts for school building improvements in the various districts in this Act provided for shall revert by reason of lapse of time, provided that when the State Board of Education shall certify to the State Treasurer that the school building improvements contemplated by this Act have been accomplished, that then any money remaining in the State Building Account shall be withdrawn by the State Treasurer from such account and deposited in the school fund.

It shall be the duty of the State Board of Education and of the Board of Public Education in Wilmington to see that the school building improvements within their respective jurisdictions under this Act are carried out with all reasonable dispatch.

Section 20. Whenever land shall be required for the accomplishment of any improvement under this Act in the consolidated school districts in the City of Wilmington, the Board of Public Education in Wilmington is authorized to select and acquire such land. And whenever land shall be required for the accomplishment of any improvement under the Act in any Special School District outside of Wilmington, the School Building Commission of such Special District is authorized to select and acquire such land. And whenever land shall be required for the accomplishment of any improvement under this Act in any other school district in this State, the local "School Building Commission" is authorized to select and acquire such land.

Such land may be acquired by contract with the owner or owners thereof at a fair value or by condemnation proceedings instituted by the appropriate official body.

The cost of such lands shall be deemed to be a part of the cost of the school building improvement and shall be paid for as hereinbefore directed with regard to the cost of school building improvements.

The title to any such lands acquired in any manner whatever shall be a fee simple title and shall be vested in the State Board of Education, except that the title to lands so acquired in the City of Wilmington or in any Special School District shall be vested in the Board of Public Education in Wilmington or in the Board of Education of the said Special School District, as the case may be.

Condemnation proceedings to acquire land as aforesaid in any case where such land cannot for any reason be acquired by contract with the owner or owners thereof for a fair or reasonable consideration, may be instituted by the appropriate official body under the provisions of Section 52 of an Act entitled, "An Act to provide for the establishment and maintenance of a general and efficient system of free public schools," approved March 31, 1921, as amended.

Approved April 15, 1935.