told a meeting of the district's finance committee on July 17 that the
critical local-funds balance on June 30 amounted to $814,990.
He was to
have presented the same report to the board the following
evening, but that was not done because it had not been formally
approved by the committee, which lacked a quorum when only one
member, Zarah Aimbinder, showed up for its meeting. A somewhat
smaller version of the monthly financial report was distributed
to the public attending the board meeting, but no reference to
the district's financial situation was made during the meeting.,
full report showed that the district spent nearly $26.5 million of its own
money while taking in $24 million, of which $23.5 million was
from property taxes. That all but depleted the $3.1 million
balance carried over last year and would have more than done so
had the district not 'found' an untapped state account. The
account held accumulated interest on Brandywine's share of the
proceeds from the sale of school buildings in the early 1980s.
end-of-fiscal-year balance has been spoken of as a cushion the
district uses to meet its payrolls and pay bills that become due
before tax revenue starts rolling in during the autumn months.
School taxes are due Sept. 30. However, in the arcane world of
Delaware school financing, that is an oversimplification.
June report shows that the district in July, August and
September, 2001, received $3.2 million in tax revenue
while spending a hair over $3 million. That would indicate, he
said, that it could squeak by -- albeit barely -- without having
to borrow from the state.
get into September [without running out of money], we're in
fairly good shape," he said at the finance
not to say, however, that Brandywine's much-discussed financial
problems are behind it.
contrary, Blowman said, there is considerable work to be done to
assign proper accounting codes to past spending and to craft a
reliable budget for the present fiscal and academic year.
Illustrative of the situation, the monthly report shows that the
district came in under budget during the past fiscal year,
spending only 96% of what was expected. Blowman calls that
"totally misleading." He points out that the salary account --
by far the largest portion of the budget, was overspent by 3%
while spending for supplies and materials was just over half of
what was budgeted.
part of the report -- which deals with total spending including
state and federal funds -- shows spending amounting to $102.3
million, or about 92% of the $111.6 million budget. Of 11
explanatory footnotes in that section, 10 say simply that
reported overages were "due to higher-than-anticipated
through it, there was overbudgeting and underbudgeting," he
said. "I don't know if we'll ever learn the full story [about
want to dwell on the past. I'm more interested in building a
solid budget for the future," he added.
Adkins, newly elected president of the school board, told
Delaforum after the board's meeting that he does not look for a
quick solution to the district's financial problems. "It will
take a long time to straighten out, but we will stick with it
until it's done," he said.
members of the board, including himself, did not realize there
were problems "until Dr. Harter (Superintendent Bruce Harter)
brought it to our attention." He added, however, that he now has
"complete confidence in all the people (administrators) we have
a related matter, the district apparently is clear with its new
tax rate despite some confusion in the process of establishing
Dufendach, associate state secretary of education, told
Delaforum that the Brandywine board's not taking action on
whether to keep or pass through to residential taxpayers the
$2.1 million the General Assembly appropriated as its share of
state-financed tax relief was tantamount to voting to keep the
money. It was not required to take action on tax relief for
senior citizens because that is a continuing annual program, he
declined to speculate on an apparent disparity in the form of
board action and its official reporting of the new tax rate. All
the pre-vote discussion centered around the 48.8¢
which is the Brandywine current-expense rate -- about half of
one of five components of the total rate. Tax rates are
expressed by amounts applied to each $100 of assessed property
Delaforum reported, the new rate is $1.1745, a 21% increase over
last year's rate. That figure was included in a printed
recommendation by Harter distributed at the
special tax-setting meeting, but not mentioned during the
discussion. That rate is approximately the amount projected
before Brandywine's April referendum as the likely 2002-03 tax.
official warrant to the New Castle County treasurer and receiver
of taxes, signed by Harter and board president Nancy Doorey,
uses the total figure. In an attachment it refers to a 95.6¢
current expense rate, which adds the Brandywine rate to the rate
carried over from the time when Brandywine and three other
districts made up a single consolidated New Castle County
district. The 48.8¢
rate is not stated in the warrant or the attachment. In past
years, Brandywine practice has been to refer to the combined
rate as the current expense or operating rate. The other
districts also follow that practice.
The warrant also refers to "a
resolution duly adopted" to set the rate although the board
actually did so by a unanimous voice vote on a simple motion to
"accept the superintendent's recommendation."