Remember the old shell game when no matter how many times the shell was moved you knew under which shell the pea was hidden, only to find out you had been fooled?

Ever go to a movie and wonder why the hell you wasted your money watching it?

Last evening myself and 50 others who attending the public forum held at the Laurel Middle School to discuss the fate of that building must have reacted the same because their were no answers, just smiles, and frequent “I feel your pain” comments by Laurel Superintendent John Elwald.

Had I known Elwald was interviewed by channel 47 prior to the meeting, asked the question if their was any way he would change his mind about demolishing the former high school which he answered with a smile, “NO”, I would have stayed home.

He did admit later he recommended to the board and they voted 5-0 to demolish the school.

Elwald started his presentation saying the voters rejected the first referendum because THEY did NOT want the former high school. To which I corrected him saying it failed because people did NOT want the football field. The second referendum was in two parts; to build the schools and to build a new football stadium. The referendum passed by 12 votes, the football stadium failed. I reminded him majority rules, so why did they build the field? A returned smile and an affirmative smile, but no answer.

Later we learned the reason the former high school couldn’t be brought up to code was the cost; $8 million dollars and they had only $5 million, which prompted an answer to that dilemma from my oldest son Chris, who said, “Don’t build the football stadium, use that $3 million on the school and you have your $8 million. More smiles, no answer.

The crowd was small but the questions were stinging, to the point, but no answers; “I don’t know, but I will get back to you” were the answers to most questions from Elwald. Based on past his past history, he won’t get back.

Kendall Jones Laurel’s number one historian asked; “The DuPont’s built 26 schools during the ’20’s similar to the Laurel School. Only one, Milford is not standing. What have the other schools done to keep their schools standing that we could do in Laurel?” Another good question said Elwald, still no solid answer except from the building superintendent who claimed he had not checked.

Retired school teacher Wendy Dolby wondered why these problems were not researched and brought to the attention of the voters before the referendums. Another good question, no answer from Elwald.

When the subject came up about moving administration to North Laurel instead of the ’21 building as previously stated in the first referendum, Donna Reed who served on many committees during the first referendum, stated the state said it was too expensive to rehab the NL school based on the states formula and wanted to know how come suddenly the NL school was good enough to rehab, but the ’21 building was not. No answer, just a comment, “Good question”, and a comment from maintenance that that school was in ‘the best condition of all the schools’??????

David Horsey, a converted proponent of both referendum found out when he came into the building and spoke with a board member that this meeting was fruitless, the decision to demolish had been made, stated if he had known that, he would have stayed home. He said had he known what the school was going to do with the referendum money, he would have gotten enough votes, (the second referendum passed by only 12 votes) to defeat it. He and many more said it would be a cold day in Hades before they would support another referendum, after Elwald said the school would need a referendum for operating expenses. I believe you could take that statement to the bank.

A form was given to the participants with three options for the administration to consider; demolish the school, keep the façade, or keep the ’21 building. I don’ why they wasted the paper because the board and supt. have set their path; build a football stadium the majority of the voters voted against and demolish the ’21 building.

It is the opinion of this writer Mr. Elwald is just passing through. This building project is a resume builder to show how large a complex he oversaw and then he’s going to another higher paying position. And Laurel will be left with the debt, many scars and a divided community.

Only two of the 5 board members had the courage to show; Board President Linda Wintjen, and Brent Nichols.

If you have time, check the schools website and you’ll find the advertisement for the referendum which clearly states monies to be used to selective remodel the “21 building.



  1. Dy my son gave me that link this morning and that’s exactly what it says. I just can’t understand why they would go against the majority without asking for another vote. When bonds are paid off early schools usually ask for another vote to transfer money into operating or other departments. They have killed the future of asking for operating money, funds to maintain the new schools. Other words they have cut off their nose to spite their face.

  2. I actually was holding out the school board and superintendent would pull their collective heads out their …. and apply the extra money this way. Race to the Top grant money is gone, Laurel is always short on monies needed for operation and maintenance. But a new athletic field and admin office will allow them to provide a better education for the future of Laurel.

    As usual Frank, you and I agree on local politics but I just can’t convert you to the right side for national.

  3. LOL nor can I convert you. Reason given at another meeting for the athletic field: We need to keep the football players from going to Sussex Tech where they can play on a better field. First, Tech does not have a better field than Laurel except for the bleachers; second, I thought we sent kids to school for an education first.

    • Your comment about the football players going to Sussex Tech says it all. Eduction is not a priority, just sports and hiring family members. Laurel is rank at the bottom of all public schools when it comes to education in Delaware. Honesty seems to be a problem, too. One school member has told me that they have voted against some of these votes, but I notice that the votes are always 5-0. We have a school board election coming soon. Why bother, nothing changes.

  4. It was an by meeting last night. I’m saddened that 6 people can literally vote to demolish a school that was intended to remain according to the referendum vote. It’s amazing how many engineers were on hand to tell the public how it can’t be renovated without spending a big amount of money but where we’re those engineers 4 years ago prior to the referendum? No answer. I’m amazed it was not researched then and probably wasn’t because it would have resulted in the referendum failing. I’m going by the school soon and getting a picture for my memory book. I hope they salvage the marble in the foyer and incorporate it in the new building. But I’m sure that will be costly – everything else is. As I suggested, maybe they should investigate the cost of saving the front facade and building the new school behind it. I’m sure an engineer could come up with the cost and it’d be less than 8 million.

  5. the passing of this referendum should have been a joyous time. it was close, but possibly many of those that voted against it may have come along given a different climate and approach by the administration and board. they got their referendum, their raises, and then totally disregarded the wishes of the people who backed them for the new buildings. they continue to disregard us and disrespect us by not even offering answers to the people on whose backs they have stood. i feel robbed of the happiness i would have had watching my school district advance and move forward. i’m afraid the struggle hasn’t really started. “start up money”? it’s not gonna happen.

    • Can you imagine the district asking for a referendum for operating costs and expecting the taxpayers to pass it? That’s why my prediction Ewald will leave shortly after the dedication of the last building.

      • but frank, the high school will open before that, right? how r they going to open it with no money?
        i don’t think he’ll be here that long. however, the board members, on the other hand, have to live in this town where their reputations have taken a nose-dive.

  6. Ok so let me make sure that I have this right. The school is going to be built, my children are going to need a place to go to school, and you all will not vote for the school to have money to operate. Hmm so who is it that has their heads where. You know if this town would come together get some decent businesses in the town and get a decent tax base instead of worrying about the History of the town all of the time maybe the town would have the money to do what it needs and wants to do. It would be interesting to know of all of the people commenting and being negative towards the school and saying they won’t vote to fund the operating costs, exactly how many have kids that will be attending the school. I guess no one will be because your not voting for it and one of the biggest business men around is going to see to it that it doesn’t pass just so he can prove a point as to how powerful he is because all of the Laurel Historians want to keep the old school. Times change people, progress stands still for no one, so either move with it or get out of the way of it. This town continues to amaze me. They support nothing, are happy with nothing unless it involves preserving the History of Laurel. News Flash that is causing the town to fall behind. There is nothing in this town but low income and section 8 housing, 2 Family Dollars and Dollar General, 4 pizza joints, a Royal Farm, and Shore Stop and a grocery store, the rest of the highway is open fields, some of the only ones left on the highway. Laurel will be the only town where there is nothing while all of the towns around use build and progress. Guess we will just leave the building there unoccupied and bus our kids to Tech and Delmar so Tech can justify having our taxes raised without a vote of the people.

    • TRUST, their is no trusting how they spend my money; they have proven they cannot manage money. The state has been in our schools going over our books for two years and they still don’t have it right. They have mismanaged our money with this building project. They did not respect the wishes of the voters which TWICE voted DOWN the referendum. Jim there are not enough businessmen left in Laurel to vote down everything, but don’t forget the second referendum passed by only 12 votes, more than that number has changed their mind.
      I don’t know about you, but I worked long 7 day stretches to have what I have today and I have supported every referendum the school has ever proposed, including voting FOR the sports complex. I owned at one time a lot of property and have paid my share of taxes even when I couldn’t afford to.
      But when someone mismanages my tax money, I have that right to object how it is being spent. Laurel is an agriculture community of hard working people whose income is at the mercy of Mother Nature. They put this referendum over and are paying a lot in taxes on all the building they have on their farms. They too are not happy with what is going on.
      Last night they stated how much drain the ’21 building was on their budget. So let them use that money for operational purposes. They seem to think they are going to save a bundle with the building gone.
      A good number of Laurel residents went to that school; it IS historical, but probably one of the better built schools in the state; it was our school and it is our right to try and keep it.

      • @jim – for me, this isn’t about not being able to “move on with it or get out of the way”. it is about being lied to, deceived, disrespected,etc. and then after following this very carefully, speaking with the board to ask them to reconsider some of their decisions, asking them to allow the public that passed the referendum to ask questions and expect answers, being upset because the voters clearly spoke when the sports stadium was put up for the vote and it was simply ignored, watching people in the administrative positions get undeserved raises, seeing one administrator who was caught double dipping on laurel’s tax dollars get no more than a hand slap, after all that, some person asks ‘who is it that has their heads where’? the people who are being so ‘negative’ are the only ones with their heads and eyes in the right direction. i don’t understand where the comment ‘worrying about the history all the time’ comes from. the building in this town with historical value are buildings in which people take great pride.
        most any town of any merit does the same thing. yes, we need businesses. hopefully that will turn around on the highway. but that has nothing to do with the way concerned citizens have been treated. you simply don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. people feel they have a right to their discontent and disappointment and, in some cases, even anger. it’s about much more than ‘the Laurel historians (who) want to keep the old school. surely u have heard of the straw that broke the camel’s back.

  7. We are all entitled to our opinions and there are two sides to every story. Of course you want to try and preserve historical buildings but at what cost? This school district couldn’t afford paper a year ago. Everyone is talking about mismanagement of money, well that just didn’t start that has been going on for a long time here. Now Mr Calio I know that the first referendum failed and the second one passed by 12 votes what I don’t get is how anyone could walk into that high school and think that school didn’t need to be replaced. That school is an embarrassment to this town period. I have kids that go to Laurel I live in laurel pay taxes and own property too. A school was needed and I am sorry that more of the people that were raised here, didn’t and still don’t think so. No one wants to pay more taxes but if it benefits the kids then sign me up to pay my share. I have wasted more money then what those taxes will cost me yearly on things that were no where near as beneficial. There is always controversy over something here. Just the way it is and will stay.

    • Jim 26 schools were built with DuPont money during the period Laurel’s school was; 25 are still standing and in operation. Milford was demolished under the state’s new system of remodeling vs demolishing. A few years ago the Georgetown school built during this time was gutted and brought up to current standards. I have two grand children attending that school and they tell me they have every modern technical convenience available. Except for some limestone needing replacement and some pointing of some bricks, the Laurel school can be brought up to code.
      The sore spot is the cost is $8 million, the school says they only have $5 million to spend of the old school. IF the board abided by the wishes of the voters, the $3 million to be spent on the new sports complex which was voted down TWICE by the voters, the ’21 building could be restored and saved.

    • Mike I don’t regret my ‘yes’ vote for the new schools; I am disappointed for those who voted against the athletic complex and the administration did not abide by those wishes. It is a matter of trust or lack thereof. The schools were needed.

  8. I do not regret that I voted yes for both, but I am extremely disappointed in the school board and their actions. It is the continuous misrepresentation of the facts to the people who elected them, there is nothing open with school board meetings in Laurel.

  9. If new schools are needed, and there is no use for the old schools then they need to go.

    I wonder if it was voted against the second time, would the schools be in “good enough” shape to remodel?

  10. all these new schools and still no teachers, no books, not even enough paper to assign homework to send home. big new buildings with empty promises

  11. There is another meeting planned for April 30th…Same place and same time… I am planning on going because I want to see if the many, many questions that were asked will be answered….? I am very discouraged with things in this district right now….! I just hope and pray that we can somehow turn things around because our kids deserve the best we can give them.

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