Voters Keep Brandywine Alive

Published 6:55 am Tuesday, June 10, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Voters turned out in record numbers to support Brandywine Public Schools bond issue at Monday's school board election.
The millage issue was approved by a vote of 1,338 to 612.
Almost double the number of voters in the Brandywine district cast ballots in Monday's election as compared to those who voted in March 2000, when the district sought approval of a bond issue twice the size of the one approved Monday night.
Poll workers closed the doors at Merritt Elementary at 8 p.m., where voters cast their ballots, and were forced to turn away several residents who showed up at the polls too late.
Inside almost 40 residents, having arrived before the 8 p.m. deadline, waited in line to vote.
With almost a 2-1 majority voting for the $14.42 million school renovation bond, there is no longer any doubt the school district will be able to improve upon its facilities.
Sweeney said the bond will pay for renovations at Merritt Elementary, Brandywine Elementary school and Brandywine Middle-High School.
Renovations will include infrastructure improvements such as plumbing, heating, air quality, lighting and electricity, he said.
Sweeney said the schools' academic facilities will also be upgraded with new science labs and upgraded libraries.
Although never certain the bond would pass, Sweeney said he has remained cautiously optimistic while preparing for the bond issue election.
He is grateful for the help staff, teachers, his family, the school board and the greater Brandywine community provided in the lead up to the election.
Sweeney, however, sends a special thanks to Kelly Low and Tina Newman, both bond committee co-chairs.
Mike Shelton, school board president, said he wasn't surprised the bond issue received a majority vote.
But, it pleased him to see that it went through with an almost 2-1 majority.
Shelton has no doubts what the passing of the bond issue means to the community.
He promises the school board will work diligently with the funds now made available to them.
The next step, Shelton said, will be to sit down with architects and formalize a plan for the construction work and planned renovations.
In his eight years on the school board, Shelton said the board has worked well to make the bond go through.
He also gives credit to Sweeney, who he said provided strong leadership and worked diligently with people who were both in favor of, and against, the bond.
In the end, however, Shelton said success was made possible because so many people were involved and worked hard to ensure the bond would pass.
Also Monday night, school board member Dennis Cooper solidly won re-election over last-minute, write-in candidate Amanda McKee.
Cooper received 1425 votes, while McKee only received 228.
Although Cooper is excited about his own re-election, he is even more excited about the large majority vote on the bond issue.
He said it shows that what the board wants to do has been confirmed by the public.
Cooper is glad to see that last week's attempt by some members of the Brandywine community to negatively influence the outcome of the bond issue failed.
By putting unsigned pamphlets with misinformation about the bond issue into mailboxes, they tried to sway people to vote against the bond before the election.