message to our elected officials is perfectly clear. It's up to
them to respond to the people," school board president Nancy
Doorey said after final results of the Oct. 30 voting were in.
Superintendent Bruce Harter added that he will carry the message
to Dover when he appears before the state Board of Education on
Nov. 27 to present the attendance zone plan the Brandywine board
adopts. That group is expected to do so on Nov. 5 at its next
business meeting. The law mandates submission of a plan. It is
unclear how quickly the state board will act but, as Delaforum
previously reported, it could well be before the end of the
issue is one of local control. Are we in charge of how we
configure our school system? The results speak for themselves,"
Senator Dallas Winslow, who voted with members of the Wilmington
legislative delegation against the law when it was enacted by
lopsided majorities in both houses of the General Assembly in
2000, said the next step "is to go where we have to go to make
improvements to the Neighborhood Schools Act." That path, he
explained, leads through the state Board of Education, the
Department of Education and the Assembly to the governor.
said he thinks the process of implementing the law as it now
stands should go forward and not wait on possible Assembly
action. The Assembly reconvenes in January.
Cathy Cloutier, a proponent of the law who voted for its passage
when she was in the House of Representatives, said that, after
meeting with Parent-Teacher Associations and others during the
past two weeks, she is ready to revisit the issue. "I have an
open mind. This (the plebiscite) makes a difference. I think we
should take another look at it," she said.
question of whether the voter favored one of three new
arrangements or preferred maintaining the status quo --
essentially the arrangement which prevailed when the district
was under a federal court desegregation order with the later
addition of an intermediate school in Claymont -- clearly
overshadowed the choice among the plans. Although it is clear
that the district school board and administration are bound by
the law and have no power to change it and there was a
disclaimer to that effect on the machine ballot, 618 more votes
were cast on that question than the 4,973 expressing a
preference as to which plan the school board should select.
controversial law was introduced into the Assembly, Brandywine
board members and officials have been among its most vocal
opponents. District activists conducted a concerted campaign to
turn out a strong anti-Neighborhood Schools Act vote.
we asked Question Two. Now we know how the community feels,"
Doorey said. Particularly gratifying, she added, was the size of
the vote, compared to most school elections.
it would be "premature" to say which plan the seven-member
school board will choose to send to Dover. The choices are among
the admittedly unusual zip code method of determining attendance
zones, one that would use the geometric midpoints between pairs
of schools and one that would establish an academically strong
'magnet' school using the P.S. du Pont and Harlan schools in
north Wilmington to house it.
Before the vote, the determination
of whether to consider it binding was said to be based on both
the size of the voter turnout and how clear the choice that was
made. The 'magnet' and geometric plans split the remaining vote,
with 30.4% and 29.4%, respectively.