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Brandywine School Board approves February referendum plan

The Brandywine School District School Board unanimously votes to go to a referendum in 2024.

The board voted for a 45-cent tax increase spread out over two years – 25 cents in year one and 20 cents in year two. There are no capital projects – the referendum is solely for operating costs.

Finance Committee Chair James Hanby says the committee unanimously recommended seeking this referendum plan.

“Committee believes this is the most financially prudent method to achieve the district’s goal of being able to fund the local portion of the budget while only collecting what is needed when it is needed.”

Hanby notes Brandywine has a history of stretching its dollars to put off referendums – the last one in 2016 was expected to last the district only three years.

Superintendent Lincoln Hohler applauds the district’s financial stewardship over the last several years – but he says they can’t cut their way out of a referendum now.

“The impact of not passing this referendum, I’m going to use a word that, well, it is catastrophic. Severe, significant cuts will have to occur that will impede the progress that we have made in our recovery efforts from COVID over the last two or three years.”

Brandywine Chief Financial Officer Jill Floore agrees.

“We could eliminate entire departments and that still wouldn’t be enough because over 80% of our budget is in salary," Floore says. "We are a people-centered organization, and the service that we provide is so that cuts can avoid positions.”

Floore says Brandywine’s average property value is $72,701, meaning about an extra $15 per month for the average resident in year one and $12 a month in year two.

The referendum vote is February 13, 2024.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.