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Middleton, Del., to Build New School Named for Famed Civil Rights Lawyer

Tue May 02, 2023 - Northeast Edition
Town Square Live & Appoquinimink School District


District and government officials on April 25 broke ground on the new Louis L. Redding Building, which will be right in front of the current Louis L. Redding Middle School, on New Street in Middleton. (Appoquinimink School District photo)
District and government officials on April 25 broke ground on the new Louis L. Redding Building, which will be right in front of the current Louis L. Redding Middle School, on New Street in Middleton. (Appoquinimink School District photo)

One of Middletown, Del.'s historic school buildings is getting a $57.1 million makeover.

The Louis L. Redding Building, part of Appoquinimink School District and named after the first Black practicing lawyer in Delaware, will have a new home in two years.

District and government officials on April 25 broke ground on the new structure, which will be right in front of the current Louis L. Redding Middle School, on New Street in Middleton.

District officials told Town Square Live, a statewide online news source, that students will not need to move to other classrooms during the construction process.

When finished, the new building will offer better access and safety to car and bus drivers.

Work will begin this summer, with the new school ready to open in fall 2025.

Michelle Wall, president of the Appoquinimink School Board, said the new building will carry on the legacy of everything that the school and its namesake stood for.

Louis Lorenzo Redding (1901-1998) was a pioneering civil rights lawyer from Wilmington, and lifelong Delaware resident. The first African American to be admitted to the Delaware bar, Redding was part of the NAACP legal team that challenged school segregation in the Brown v. Board of Education case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

During his groundbreaking career, he successfully challenged discrimination not only in education, but housing, public accommodations, employment and the criminal justice system.

The school that bears his name first opened in 1952.

Delaware State Sen. Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown, commented at the groundbreaking that the building is more than a school; rather, she said, it is a landmark that represents the history of Middletown.

Originally built in 1953, the Louis L. Redding school was desegregated in 1969.

Voters Favored No Tax Increase to Build New School

Town Square Live reported that in late 2021, Appoquinimink District voters overwhelmingly approved a no tax increase referendum to fund the new school. The issue passed with a 96 percent margin of approval.

For more than a decade, the district has been asking the state to support the renovation and expansion of Louis L. Redding Middle School.

Town Square Live noted during that time Appoquinimink officials have been saving money to fund the local side of this equation — a 24 percent share that equates to almost $13.7 million — using developer impact fees and growth in property taxes associated with new home construction.

The state is paying the remaining 76 percent, or $43.3 million, to build the school.

"This gives us the exciting opportunity to provide Redding students and teachers with the learning facility they deserve, to replace temporary trailers with real classrooms, and bring equity to our school facilities, without raising taxes," according to a statement from the Appoquinimink District.

State Rep. Sherae'a Moore, D-Middletown, said she hopes the building will be a community hub and sends the message that the state believes in the children of Middletown.




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