Brandywine planning PR campaign to push special millage election

Published 1:44 am Wednesday, April 16, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- A comprehensive public relations package with detailed information regarding Brandywine Public School's $14.2 bond issue proposal will soon be available to the public, school district officials said Monday.
Dr. Eugene M. Sweeney, superintendent of Brandywine Public Schools, said the information package will be mailed to every home eligible to vote in the upcoming June 9 ballot for Brandywine Public School voters.
The millage amount, if voters approve the bond issue proposal for building improvements in the district's three main buildings, will not exceed 4.85 mills a year for a maximum of 25 years, according to the information package.
The average millage rate, however, is expected to be around 3.77 mills a year; a mill being $1 of taxes for every $1,000 of property's tax value, which is about half of the property's true market value.
There will be several meetings before June 9, where the public is invited to attend and learn more about the bond issue proposal as election day draws nearer.
The three main buildings in line for improvement are Brandywine High School, Brandywine Elementary School and Merritt Elementary.
School officials also wish to replace the California wing at Merritt Elementary with a kindergarten area.
The area is called the California wing because there is no enclosed hallway leading to the classrooms, meaning children must go outside in inclement weather to get to their classes.
If the proposal goes through, the funds will be used to improve plumbing and electric infrastructure, as well as technology upgrades in classrooms.
With the election only a few months away, Sweeney said he and other school officials will next week start door-to-door visits with people in the Brandywine community to personally inform them about the bond issue proposal and its impact on the community.
Sweeney said he doesn't have a sense now for how the bond issue will go.
He expects to visit around 5,000 homes before election day.
It's not the first time, however, that the school district has attempted to pass a bond proposal.
In March 2001, voters voted against a 8.2 mill bond worth $28 million to renovate the school districts buildings.
The Facilities Committee and the School Board are this time requesting one-half of what was asked for in the spring of 2000.
According to the information package, this reflects both the desire of the planning groups to show they have listened to the voters by minimizing costs, while at the same time focusing specifically on educational needs.
Before the bond issue proposal is approved, however, the school district needs authorization from the State Treasurer. Sweeney doesn't expect there will be any problems getting that approval.
The Superintendent believes Brandywine Public Schools and the Brandywine community are at a major turning point.
He is worried that in the current facilities, with the current curriculum, the school district is unable to provide an education to their students comparable to the education provided to children in surrounding school districts.
May 12 is the last day to register to vote for the special election and absentee ballots will be available from May 20.