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March  23,  2012

Brandywine advocates anticipate
a favorable referendum result

Brandywine School District officials and 'Friends of the Brandywine Referendum' volunteers are looking for residents to vote to increase their school tax at a referendum on Mar. 28.

While optimism is to be expected at a partisan gathering just before voters go to the polls, predictions voiced at the final meeting of the 'friends' group appeared to be supported by some tangible evidence.

David Blowman, district finance officer, for instance, said there was an "overall positive" response at some 35 civic association and community organization meetings he and other administrators have attended during the campaign. "I'm getting no sense of negativity," he said.

School board member John Skrobot referred to the seeming lack of public attention generated by the referendum. "It's not like in the past," he said. "Some people are concerned about it being quiet; I like it."

"It's going to happen. We're going to pass this thing [sic] next Wednesday," Superintendent Mark Holodick declared at the meeting on Mar. 21.

The district is seeking authorization to raise the rate in the current operations component of the tax rate by 27 for each $100 of assessed property value. That would bring the component to $1.559 and the total tax rate to $2.1085, the highest of the seven public school districts in New Castle County.

The school board is expected to impose the full increase for the coming fiscal year. Holodick previously said the new rate ceiling will hold, barring unforeseen developments, for at least four years. School tax, which is billed on a full-year basis, is due by Sept. 30.

James Hanby, one of the volunteers, said public support largely is the result of the openness with which the referendum has been planned and promoted. "This is the most transparent referendum we've had," he said.

Skrobot credited Holodick with generating trust. "It's key that you've grown up here and went to [Brandywine] schools," he said.

"This community has embraced you," added Marty Tracy, a retired Brandywine administrator who chaired both the planning and the campaign effort.

The district covers all of Brandywine Hundred and most of north Wilmington.

A 'voting guide' published by the district includes several endorsements of the tax increase. The most significant is by Governor Jack Markell. He is quoted as saying: "The Brandywine School District has long been an educational leader in Delaware and I support the district's efforts to prepare your students for their future education and for the jobs of tomorrow." The governor does not live in the district.

A report distributed by treasurer Cyndi Lehm at the meeting listed a $5,000 contribution to the 'friends' group from an unidentified business. That was by far the largest contribution received.

Although he and others referred to a favorable vote as almost certain, Holodick cautioned against letting down the effort. "We have a number of things that will finish it off and get out the 'yes' vote," he said.

Events likely to attract students' parents are planned on voting day at all Brandywine schools. Literature will be distributed at car-pool lines the afternoon before and the morning of the referendum. Teachers and other staff have been directed to 'talk up' the district's need for additional revenue.

Voting will take place between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. at all the schools with additional polls at the Carvel state office building in downtown Wilmington, Church of Our Savior and Crestview Apartments in north Wilmington, and Claymont Boys & Girls Club on Darley Road. Any resident age 18 and older is eligible to vote irrespective of whether he or she is registered to vote in political elections. Identification is required.

Get more information about this topic:

Read previous Delaforum article: Brandywine planning tax referendum blitz

CLICK HERE to access the Brandywine School District referendum website

2012. All rights reserved.