Including two supplemental operations questions on the voting
machine ballot for the capital-spending referendum drew
criticism from board member Thomas Lapinski, who voted against
official authorization of the referendum.
"Didn't we say we were not going back to taxpayers for
operational funds until 2007?" he asked rhetorically before the
board voted on an inclusive referendum package. The comment
referred to a promissory statement the board made after voters
approved the current rate ceiling in 2002.
board's vote at its regular monthly business meeting on Mar. 21 climaxed a year-long process, involving a considerable
amount of public participation, to craft a program which board
president Nancy Doorey, superintendent Bruce Harter and others
previously have characterized as reflecting community desires
concerning its public school system. The Brandywine district
encompasses all of Brandywine Hundred and about half of north
proposal is approved, "there will be no request to do major
[construction] work for a substantial number of years," Doorey
amount of the operations tax increase which district financial
officer David Bowman said can be expected during the first of
four years that most of it will be in effect actually exceeds by
a cent the estimated average capital tax rate increase which
will be required to pay principle and interest on 20-year bonds
that will be sold to finance the building program.
component of the overall tax rate -- now $1.2805 -- is projected
to increase to 18.2¢ by fiscal year 2010, when the bond sales
are completed, and then decline gradually until fiscal 2031 as
the bonds are retired serially. After the first year, fiscal
2006, the new operations component would decline to about 5¢, which
would be folded into the permanent rate.
cases, the rates are applied to each $100 of assessed property
values. Unlike some other districts, Brandywine does not differentiate between residential
and commercial property in applying its tax rate. In New Castle
County, assessed values, established in the early 1980s, are
considerably less than the amount for which most properties
could be sold now.
there had been no doubt that the school board would proceed to
referendum, Lapinski's negative vote resulted in the
authorization resolution receiving only the minimum support
required for approval. With Joseph Bumskill and Mark Huxoll
absent from the meeting, the tally was four-to-one. Any action
by the seven-member board requires four affirmative votes.
told the board that referendum approval at the March meeting was
necessary to meet the Department of Elections' timetable for
scheduling and conducting a referendum in May and to enable the
district to conduct a campaign to secure a favorable vote from
Delaforum previously reported, the referendum will be held on
May 24. That is a Tuesday, two weeks after voters choose
from among six candidates seeking to fill board seats being
vacated by Lapinski and David Adkins. Doorey said at the meeting
that she thinks at least one of the candidates, whom she did not
identify, will drop out of the races.
before voting to authorize the referendum, the board added $1
million to one of the previously determined operational proposals to cover
an increase in the amount spent on building maintenance. That was added to $3.5 million
to enhance security at all district schools and other
facilities; cover increases in the district's fuel costs to make
up for the state subsidy's failure to keep pace with the rise in
energy prices; and expand the district's alternative education
program for disruptive students to include those in grades four
other operational question will involve spending $3.7 million to
improve athletic fields at the three district high schools,
three middle schools and P.S. du Pont and Claymont Intermediate. A similar
proposal involving upgrading of running tracks at the high
schools was approved by voters at the last capital-spending
referendum, which was held in 2001.
both instances, the operational taxes would be imposed for a
limited time -- the athletic fields component for four years and
the other for two.