will be official -- including whether there will be a referendum
-- until the Board of Education acts at its January business
meeting, but superintendent Bruce Harter gave a fairly detailed
order-of-magnitude glimpse at what his administration is
considering in shaping its recommendation while presenting a
still-incomplete five-year strategic plan at the Dec. 20 board
Delaforum previously reported, there is a good possibility the
district may deviate from the traditional practice of districts
throughout the state of imposing a single tax rate, at the
ceiling, immediately after a successful referendum. Brandywine
did that eight fiscal years ago and has held that rate since.
computer spreadsheet Harter projected at the meeting showed
potential rates of 48¢, 44¢, 47¢, 49¢ and 51¢ in each of
the coming five fiscal years. The higher initial rate can be
explained by the necessity to rebuild a reserve fund which is
expected under the current budget to be nearly depleted when the
present fiscal year ends on June 30. Tax rates are applied on
each $100 of assessed property value.
compared those rates with the 32.6¢ currently levied by
Brandywine. The operations tax, however, also includes 43.8¢
levied countywide as a remnant of the breakup of the county
district initially created to implement court-ordered racial
desegregation. Brandywine property owners pay somewhat more into
that pool than the district realizes from it because of higher
average property values and a smaller proportion of student
his increases against the total operations tax of 76.4¢, net of
a one-time 3¢ tax being collected this year to finance
construction of athletic tracks at the three high schools,
yields indicated increases ranging from 16% in fiscal 2004 to
25% in fiscal 2007.
that it was a preliminary draft, Harter declined to provide a
paper copy of the spreadsheet and none was available to the
public at the meeting. He said a firmer version will be posted
on the district Web site in early January.
calculations on the spreadsheet were directed, in part, to
provide estimates of what it will take to implement the
strategies necessary to meet six goals establish under five
priorities in the proposed plan. As Delaforum previously
reported they include such things as how many teachers achieve
national certification, the percentage of students enrolled in
enrichment courses, average daily attendance and how quickly
parental inquiries are handled.
text of the draft of the plan is on the district Web site and
can be accessed directly from the bottom of this article.)
said it is not yet possible to present specific starting points
or interim and final targets for many of the actions listed in
the plan. He added that it is not intended to be a static
document and it will be revised and updated as time goes on.
calculations included several instances where current spending
can be cut and he explained that efforts will be made to seek
grants to help finance some of the plan's priorities.
another matter, the board authorized what could be the beginning
of a process to establish an International Baccalaureate
curriculum as a magnet program at Mount Pleasant High School. An
international educational organization based in Geneva,
Switzerland, must approve participation in the program.
was told that a group of Mount Pleasant teachers visited
Montgomery High School in Rockville, Md., which has used the
curriculum for many years and came away favorably impressed. It
authorized spending $5,000 and assigning a teacher part time as
coordinator to explore the prospects.
the elementary and middle school components of the 'high end'
academic curriculum at Harlan and P.S. du Pont schools in
Wilmington and providing it for selected students at Mount
Pleasant was one of the alternative Neighborhood Schools Act
proposals considered by the district. It came in second of three
presented to the public in a non-binding plebiscite.
Pleasant principal Dennis Runyon said present thinking is to
initiate the curriculum, possibly in the 2003-04 academic year
just at that school. It would not be the only program offered