Brandywine voters okay
Voters gave the Brandywine School District a vote of confidence,
albeit by the smallest margin of any referendum returning a
favorable outcome since a capital referendum in 1993.
Unofficial results published by the state Department of
Elections for New Castle County showed 4,814 voters, or 53.8%
approving an increase in the property tax rate ceiling and
4,126, or 46.2%, opposed.
Superintendent Mark Holodick said the school board intends to
impose the entire increase -- 27¢ for each $100 of assessed
value -- in the coming fiscal year. Subject to minor adjustments
in its other components, that will bring the total rate to
approximately $2.10. Tax for the full year is due on or before
Holodick said, however, that his previous projection of at least
four years under the new ceiling still holds. "That's a minimum.
I intend to stretch [that] as long as I can."
The victory was clearly the result of the campaign strategy of
scheduling events on voting day, Mar. 28, at all district
schools. Without exception, polling places at elementary and
middle schools had favorable votes, ranging up to a 76.1% margin
at Harlan Elementary. Those who voted at Brandywine and Mount
Pleasant Highs rejected the increase while the poll at Concord
barely squeaked by with a 50.5% favorable margin. Parents of
younger children are more likely to attend a school event.
Anyone age 18 and older living in the district, which includes
all of Brandywine Hundred and a portion of north Wilmigton, was
eligible to vote and could do so at any district school or a
selected community venue.
But a win is a win and members of the district administration
and volunteers who worked on the referendum campaign who came
out to witness the vote counting were happy to take it. Even
though the likely result was known by then, when Harlan, the
last poll to report, came in, they cheered that victory margin
as the proverbial icing on the cake.
"We will quickly move and decide how we will utilize these
resources," a tired but obviously well pleased Holodick told the
group before it adjourned to a victory celebration.
Earlier he told Delaforum that the referendum result
demonstrated that "people are engaged" with the school district.
"No one can say we didn't get the word out," he added.
The referendum was preceded by a seven-month public process
during which school personnel and community volunteers came up
with initiatives for what they refer to as the district's
'success plan' and then worked to sell the proposal and turn out
a favorable vote. It was agreed their most significant challenge
was to overcome psychological and real effects of the sluggish
national and local economies.
Eight cents of the tax hike has been earmarked to finance the
new and enhanced programs while 19¢ will go to finance
continuation of present programs and rebuild budget reserves.