vote is favorable -- and the consensus of knowledgeable
observers is that it will be -- the district by June, 2012, will
have 14 'modernized' schools and two new ones. As board
president Nancy Doorey put it during a recent public meeting,
the district will have the most up-to-date educational
facilities of any of the state's 19 public school districts.
2028, when the last of several 20-year bond issues have been
paid off, district property owners will have directly spent
something in the neighborhood of $160 million to accomplish that
and, as state taxpayers, contributed proportionately to about
$225 million that state government will have spent.
proposed building program
|Renovate P.S. du Pont
|Renovate Springer Middle
|Renovate Hanby Middle
|Replace Lancashire Elementary
|Replace Brandywood Element-ary;
relocate Bush pre-school
|Renovate maintenance building
|Demolish Bush building
|Relocate district office
Department of Elections
are ballpark estimates and include interest on the debt, which
can be considered comparable in most respects to a homeowner's
from another perspective, a child who had just entered
kindergarten when a former board and district administration
developed the long-range renovations plan in the autumn of 1993
will have just received his or her advanced degree from graduate
school when the new Brandywood Elementary building is ready for
occupancy. It is entirely feasible that his or her child will be
attending college when the last of the bonds are paid off.
While that exercise might
it isn't far off the
mark when it comes to illustrating the continuity which
surrounds the program. Last summer, when a group of teachers and
involved parents were fighting a proposal to close, rather
than renovate, Hanby Middle School, they argued that they were
promised that their school was next in line in return for their
support for the financing of the second
phase of the program in 2001.
time around, one of the add-on operating proposals to go before
the voters would provide money to install security cameras and
intrusion devices in schools renovated during the first phase of
the program. Superintendent Bruce Harter pointed out that the need for that sort of equipment
is taken for
granted nowadays, but was not
given much priority before the school shootings tragedy
in Littleton, Colo., in 1999.
Another change that has
taken place is that school authorities no longer can go
the the public with internally generated referendum
plans and expect to get by on the strength of a couple
of Parent-Teacher Association endorsements. In
preparation for the coming vote, Brandywine set up a
facilities taskforce of community volunteers to
recommend a plan. The full panel and its committees
||July 1, 2023
||Jan. 1, 2023
||July 1, 2022
||Apr. 1, 2016
||Dec. 1, 2014
||Dec 1, 2014
||Dec. 1, 2014
Brandywine School District
meetings, which were open to the public, and conducted three
public hearings. A referendum support committee recently
published a catalog of favorable endorsements by a variety of
November, 1993, when there was open opposition, the initial
renovations financing proposal barely squeaked by with a
50.1%-to-49.9% margin of just shy of 17,000 votes cast. A
proposal to increase the operating tax rate ceiling was defeated
at that referendum. A better organized campaign in 2001 brought
out slightly fewer than 10,000 voters, but produced a
75.8%-to-24.2% favorable vote.
Although school districts in Delaware and throughout the nation
routinely put taxing proposals before voters at referendums, the
relatively simple process still generates considerable
confusion. It is commonplace, for instance, to hear people talk
of 'voting for the referendum'. Actually, the school board votes
to hold a referendum and frames the questions to be asked. In
Delaware, the state Department of Elections conducts the
Proponents request a 'yes vote' although the machine ballot does
not contain questions to be answered 'yes' or 'no'. Voters are
asked whether they are 'for' or 'against' a bond issue or
issue at the Brandywine referendum on May 24, is whether to
issue bonds to finance renovation of three schools and the
maintenance building, replacement of three schools and
relocation of the district's administrative office and bus
depot. A total of $50.3 million of local debt would be required
if the state's formula for matching local spending for new
construction is followed. The amount would be $64 million if the
school board's recommendation is followed.
issue there is the amount the amount of financing the state will
provide for construction of new buildings for Brandywood and
Lancashire Elementary. The Brandywood building would include a
separate wing to house a relocated Bush Early Education Center.
The state formula currently calls for a subsidy of $175 per
square foot. With construction labor and material costs having
increased, the General Assembly is being asked to increase that
amount. It would do so by a provision in the annual capital
spending legislation enacted in June. Delaware Department of
Education has agreed to provide support at the new rate if a new
rate is enacted, according to David Blowman, Brandywine's chief
Meanwhile, voters at the referendum will be asked two related
questions. One is to approve bonds based on the state formula.
The second asks for approval of additional local financing to
make up the difference between what the state eventually
provides and what the Brandywine board has recommended. It also
asks authorization for total local financing for the bus depot.
If the first question does not receive a favorable vote, the
result for the second question would be moot.
voters were to approve the higher local amount, Brandywine would
have the second-highest local bond authorization ever approved
in Delaware. Voters in the Red Clay district approved $78
million in local financing in 2002. Christina district now has
the second-highest amount, $55.9 million, also approved in 2002.
event, voters by approving the bond issues agree to be taxed at
whatever rate is required to meet annual debt service
obligations. One-twentieth of a bond issue is redeemed each year
with a resulting declining amount of interest paid
Brandywine currently has $49.9 million worth of previously
issued bonds outstanding, with maturities ranging up to 2023.
The debt service tax rate is 12.8¢ for each $100 of assessed
property value. The rates in future years would depend on the
timing of bond sales and interest rates the bonds would require.
Brandywine has said the maximum increase between now and 2010
would be 18.2¢ if the board proposal is approved and 14.2¢ if
just the state-formula proposal is approved. The total
debt-service rate would decline gradually after 2010.
has said the district does not intend to seek approval for any
additional bond-financed major capital spending for the
add-ons, if approved at the referendum, would all be financed by
temporary increases in the operating tax rate. That rate is now
at the ceiling -- 98.2¢ -- and the board has declared its
intention to stick by a promise made after the last operating
rate referendum not to seek an increase until 2007.
referendum in 2002 voters approved a one-time add-on to finance
construction of all-weather running tracks at the three high
schools by a 71.6%-to-28.4% margin.
time, there are two separate add-on proposals.
which would be spread over five years, would finance repairs to
and upgrades for sports facilities at several schools. The
official referendum information does not include a total cost
for those projects, but the district previously gave it as $3.7
million. The data does specify the increases in the tax rate as
4¢ in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 3.2¢ in fiscal 2007,
2.5¢ in fiscal 2008, 1.1¢ in fiscal 2009, and four-tenths of 1¢
in fiscal 2010.
other proposal asks voters to authorize three tax increases to
cover a cost previously announced as $4.5 million for building
security features, a district-wide emergency notification
system, establishment of a safety and security office staffed by
at least one full-time administrator, and additional local
revenue to cover increases in energy costs and for improved
building maintenance.. The proposed increases would be 8¢ in
fiscal 2006, 9¢ in fiscal 2007, and 3.3¢ in fiscal 2008.
district's total tax rate this year $1.2805. The rate is set
annually in July with the tax due by Sept. 30.
material promoting a favorable vote, the district points out
that state law entitles property owners age 65 and older,
regardless of income, to a 50% credit on the fist $1,000 of
property tax owed. However, Brandywine, unlike most other
districts, does not pass on the state-financed tax abatement
subsidy for primary residences. The law gives school districts
the option of keeping that money and applying it to operating
will be open from noon until 9 p.m. They are in every school
except Brandywood and Harlan Intermediate as well as the
district office, Crestview Apartments and Church of Our Savior.
Residents of the district who are 18 or older are eligible to
vote, irrespective of whether they are registered to vote in