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