that education "has always been the top priority" in
the state's capital spending budget, Dave Hall, assistant
director for policy and planning in the state budget office,
told Delaforum that Red Clay will be able to begin work on its
program during the fiscal year which begins July 1 is referendum
voters give it a green light.
Brandywine's director of school facilities, told a school board
meeting on Dec. 3 that an official in the Delaware Department of
Education "has assured me that, provided nothing changes,
our funding should not be disrupted."
has not responded to several Delaforum requests for comment and
clarification following publication of a newspaper article to
the effect that there will not be enough money in the fiscal
2003 kitty to meet school construction and other capital
spending already programmed for the coming fiscal year. Figures
cited were $118 million available against $131 million
implication was that if money already earmarked won't be
available, there is unlikely to be any new commitments sought
when Governor Ruth Ann Minner submits her budget proposals to
the General Assembly early in the coming calendar year.
Brandywine board authorized superintendent Bruce Harter to
negotiate a construction management contract to oversee total
renovation of Harlan Intermediate School and the replacement of
windows at Mount Pleasant High School. Both jobs are scheduled
to begin in summer, 2002. Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. was
selected as first choice for that role with Bancroft
Construction and Barclay White Skanska picked as next in line if
a satisfactory deal cannot be cut with Whiting-Turner.
proposal put before the Red Clay school board on Nov. 14 calls
for spending nearly $190 million during the next five years to
build a new elementary school in the Hockessin area and to
renovate and upgrade every school in the district. That amount
of spending would be a record for any Delaware school district.
Voters last March turned down a bond
authorization for a somewhat smaller proposal.
financial officer Richard Moretti said the new proposal was
crafted with the knowledge that there could be a curtailment of
state capital spending as a result of the slipping national
proposes spending $30.8 million in fiscal 2003 and $40 million,
$40.4 million, $42.1 million and $34.3 million, respectively, in
subsequent fiscal years. Voters
will be asked to authorize local borrowing, by way of selling
long-term bonds, to finance the district's 40% share of those
amounts. The state would provide 60%, most of which would be
I have confidence that we will be receiving funding from the
state upon passage of a referendum. Should there be a
severe shortage of funding, our program may have to be
phased over a longer than the five-year period proposed,
however," Moretti said.
an assumption that new projects would not be added to the
existing mix is not valid and added that the premise upon which
it was based is not likely to hold.
much will be available will depend on what [the Delaware
Economic & Financial Advisory Council] tells us next April
and May," he said. "Then, if the referendum [is
successful], we'll sit down with the district [officials] and
see what we can work out."
he explained, the approach if the state comes up short will be
to stretch out projects over several spending cycles -- a
practice that is considered normal anyway. "The practice is
for districts to come with a total [project] amount. But there
is no way they can spend all that in one year, so it ends up
being spread over three years or longer," he said.
he is aware of the total amount Red Clay would be seeking, but
is not familiar with details of the plan. He also said it would
be inappropriate at this time to comment on specific elements of
that or other plans.
general terms, however, a building already under construction or
in the process of being physically renovated would not have that
work stopped, he said.