financial officer Richard Moretti said that it now appears,
based on enrollment projections, that "it won't be necessary to
go to two [new] schools" to achieve the district's goal of
having sufficient capacity to permit all students to attend the
schools of their choice.
decided, he said, to build the new school in the Hockessin area
because "we have no elementary school in the northwest
quadrant." At the same time, the district "received a mixed
message" about public support for putting an elementary school
at the site of Stanton Middle School. People in the area had
raised objections about increased traffic, he said, adding that
Stanton Middle "will get a facelift" as part of the new plan.
district expects to be able to purchase the same property at
Limestone and Valley Roads which it sought to acquire in
connection with the earlier plan. Total cost of the new school,
including site acquisition, is put at $13 million. It would have
a capacity of 600 students.
school board voted unanimously and without substantive
discussion at its meeting on Nov. 14 to authorize Moretti
to seek Delaware Department of Education approval for including
state financing of the plan in its component of the state's
fiscal 2003 capital spending plan that Governor Ruth Ann Minner
will submit to the General Assembly in January.
Red Clay essentially is on deadline for getting its bid to
Dover, Moretti said he did not expect any difficulty securing
DelDOE's approval. In drafting the new plan. he has been in
touch with state officials and "most of what's in here is the
same as they approved last year," he said.
said he did not expect concern about the effects of economic
recession and state belt tightening to have an adverse effect.
Minner's call for reduction in state spending, he said, is
directed toward spending on operations rather than capital
spending, which is financed by long-term borrowing through the
sale of bonds.
told the school board that the decision to seek state and local
money in five annual installments rather than a single dip, as
is customary, is a concession to the number of public school
building proposals expected to be on the table this year. The
annual amounts, beginning in the year which starts on July 1,
2002, are: $30.8 million, $40 million, $40.4 million, $42.1
million and $34.3 million/
totals of both the state and local bond issues and the entire
plan itself would all be record amounts.
not clear how firm a commitment to state support at the desired
amount in future years can be obtained. The state pays 70% of
the capital costs for approved projects, but so-called bond
bills are enacted each spring looking only to the coming fiscal
year. Many state projects, however, have been financed over
multiple-year periods based on 'understandings' passed from one
Assembly to the next.
voters last April rejected, by a 53%-to-47% margin, financing
the $74.1 million local share of a $185.4 million program.
said that "significant construction inflation" only partly
offset by lower interest rates was responsible for escalation of
the costs. He described as conservative his assumption that
bonds can be sold over a five-year period at an average 4¾%
interest, compared to the 6% he estimated that it would have
cost a year ago. "I feel fairly comfortable with [the lower]
rate. The next few years appear to be very good for the issuance
of bonds": he said.
It was no
clear whether additional projects beyond what were contained in
the earlier plan make up the difference in costs after dropping
one of the elementary schools from the program. Other than a
reference to "additional 'funding' for playground [and] athletic
field upgrades," he gave no details about the individual
projects. He did say that information will be made available "in
minute detail" at all district schools and on its Web site.
DelDOE agreement, Moretti said he would expect the board to set
a date for a referendum "in the February or March timeframe."
estimated that the district tax rate to cover debt service on
the bonds would increase annually to reach a maximum of 13.45¢
for each $100 of assessed property value in the fifth year as
bonds are sold. It would then decrease as they are redeemed
serially. Over the 24-year lifespan of the issues average debt
service tax would be 8.24¢, he said. By authorizing sale of
bonds, voters agree to whatever tax rate is necessary to service
approved by DelDOE, the legislature and district voters, the
building program would get underway immediately.
fiscal year which begins on July 1, 2002, would see preliminary
planning for all the projects and the beginning construction at
Highlands, Linden Hill, Richey and Warner schools. Construction
of the Hockessin school would take plans in the 2003-04 and
2004-05 years. Improvements at the district's three high schools
-- the largest components of the program -- would come in two
phases, in 2004-05 and 2005-06
separate action, the board approved adding fifth grades at
Heritage, Linden Hill and Richey schools next September. That
brings all of Red Clay's elementary schools into a
kindergarten-though-fifth grad configuration.
member Irwin Becnel noted that the action does not mean all
childred completing second grade are necessarily able to remain
at a school for the next three grades. Their parents must apply
for them to do so under the state public school choice law and
lack of capacity results in not all who apply being accepted.
better than in previous days when we told all of them that they
couldn't stay," board president William Manning replied.
board also accepted and agreed to consider a proposal to charter
a military academy which would be located on Middleboro Road
east of Banning Park in Woodcrest. According to Jack
Wintermantle, its director of development, the co-ed high school
would offer a Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps
program to 300 youngsters in ninth and 10th grades its first
year and 450 through 12th grade in subsequent years.
he believes there may be only one other charter school based on
a military specialty in the country. Most military schools are
private and more than not are boarding schools. As a public
school, Delaware Military Academy would be a day school and not
charge tuition. He said all military schools have enrollment
Unlike other public schools with
Junior R.O.T.C. programs, academy students would be in uniform
and subject to military-style discipline five days a week,
Wintermantle, a lieutenant colonel in the Delaware National
Guard, said. Students would have no military obligation after
their high school graduations.