The final decade of the 20th century saw a reversal in the downward enrollment trend of the previous 20 years, with the district reporting a total enrollment of 6,737 students during the 2000 school year.
Although this was an increase of less than seven percent, the district was forced to pursue the construction of several new buildings, not because of space but because the oldest buildings were no longer able to be maintained at a standard comparable to the newer buildings of the district.
The original four wings of the Nellie Hughes Stokes Elementary School developed increasing numbers of roof leaks, structural problems, and heating problems that the maintenance staff could not stay ahead of. As a result, the district constructed a new Nellie Hughes Stokes Elementary School south of Camden, which was ready for the opening of school in 1997.
Shortly thereafter the district began construction of two new middle schools to replace the deteriorating Caesar Rodney Junior High School building. Fred Fifer III Middle School in Camden and F. Niel Postlethwait Middle School in Rising Sun were completed just in time for the opening of school in 1999. At that time the sixth grade classes from the district elementary schools joined the seventh and eighth graders from the former junior high in filling these new buildings.
The Caesar Rodney Junior High School building, including all of the additions to the original Caesar Rodney School and the first Nellie Hughes Stokes Elementary School wings, were leveled during the summer of 1999 to make way for new athletic fields for Fifer Middle School.
In 1998, Dr. Bach retired and Dr. David E. Robinson was promoted from the high school principalship to lead the district into the new millennium as its eighth superintendent. With the completion of the new middle schools he focused the district's attention on the aging Star Hill Elementary School building and the increasingly overcrowded and worn Caesar Rodney High School. In the fall of 2000 district residents approved a referendum to renovate and expand both of these facilities.
Both projects began in the summer of 2001 with the Star Hill students and staff leaving their school during its renovation and taking up temporary residence as “guests” of Dover Air Force Base Middle School and Major George Welch Elementary School.
The Star Hill renovation was completed in 2003 with the students and staff able to return home to a state-of-the-art facility.
The massive $32 million high school project would continue until September 2005, with the expansion and renovation completed in five separate phases.
Also, back in 2000, the district began lobbying the state for money to renovate and expand the aging and overcrowded John. S. Charlton School. The project was eventually funded 100 percent with state funds; the renovations began in the summer of 2003. During the school’s reconstruction, Charlton students and staff also moved on base, occupying the General Henry “Hap” Arnold Elementary School. With declining base enrollments, the district had vacated Arnold Elementary and consolidated all base elementary students at Welch Elementary for the start of the 2003 school year.
Also in 2003, the Delaware Department of Education began rating every school and district in the state using a complex formula that considered student performance on the state tests and other data. In that first School Accountability Rating, the Caesar Rodney School District was one of only a few districts in the state to receive a “Superior” rating.
As the 2004 school year ended, so did the career of Dr. Robinson who retired after 35 years with the district. He was the second superintendent, after William Simpson, to rise through the ranks from teacher to superintendent.
To carry on the leadership of the district, the Board selected Dr. Harold E. Roberts as the district’s ninth superintendent. Dr. Roberts would be the third superintendent to also rise through the ranks and the first to have spent his entire career with the Caesar Rodney School District.
One year later, in 2005, the high school project was finally completed, making Caesar Rodney High School the preeminent high school in the state...again. In 2006, the Charlton School renovation and expansion was completed, with that facility now bridging across to Allen Frear Elementary and sharing common spaces such as the cafeteria and library.
The new Charlton School provided a state-of-the-art facility for Kent County’s most severely disabled youth. With the Charlton students and staff moved back into their school, the Caesar Rodney School District abandoned the General Henry Arnold School, which was then assumed by Dover Air Force Base as a training facility.
Also, in 2006, the Caesar Rodney School District achieved the singular distinction of not only being superior but having every school in the district rated “Superior,” the first and only district in the state to ever achieve that accomplishment under the state’s accountability system.
As the 2007 school year came to an end, the long Caesar Rodney career and short superintendency of Dr. Roberts came to a premature end when he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
The Board chose Dr. Kevin R. Fitzgerald, then serving as principal at Caesar Rodney High School, to take over as the district’s tenth superintendent.
During Dr. Fitzgerald’s tenure as superintendent, the district has undergone a physical transformation as well as expanded academic opportunities for its students.
Four elementary schools have been renovated: McIlvaine, Brown, Simpson and Frear. For the first time, all-day kindergarten was implemented across the district. The World Language Program at CRHS was expanded to include Chinese, Arabic and Italian. A Chinese Immersion Program for kindergarten students had now been expanded to the elementary levels as has a Spanish Immersion Program. The English Language Learners program has been expanded at Stokes while distance learning opportunities between the high school and middle schools have been implemented.
As the district entered a new decade, four elementary schools were recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools: Nellie Stokes in 2011; Star Hill in 2012; Allen Frear in 2013; and W.B. Simpson in 2015.
In 2015, exactly 100 years after the Camden-Wyoming community passed their referendum consolidating their schools into the Caesar Rodney School District, the Caesar Rodney community passed an operating and capital expense referendum with 62 percent voting in favor of the referendum.
The success of the 2015 referendum will create additional classroom space at both McIlvaine and the high school as well; a 9th grade academy; the connection of C and D wings at CRHS; and new athletic fields.
The Caesar Rodney School District will also see the building of a state-of-the-art elementary school in Magnolia.
The Department of Defense will also plan and build a new elementary/middle school on Dover Air Force Base.
From the joining of several one room schoolhouse districts in 1915 that were housed in several aging frame structures and served a mere handful of students the Caesar Rodney School District has grown to one of America's premiere public school districts, serving nearly 7,000 students whose families are spread over more than 140 square miles and whose buildings are among the finest school facilities in the state. The Caesar Rodney School District takes pride in its long history of service to its community and is committed to continuing its record of service, accomplishment and improvement in the years to come.