Extra

Facts about the Brandywine School District
building renovation program and bond referendum

Brandywine School District is asking residents to approve the sale of $38.4 million worth of long-term bonds over a period of five years to finance the gutting and total renovation of five schools and significant capital projects at three others. A separate question will seek authorization for the sale of additional bonds -- the total amount has not yet been determined but it will be in the range of $1 million -- to pay for installation of running tracks at the district's three high school.

Under the Delaware system, voters determine whether they are willing to assume the obligations which follow the selling of bonds. Contrary to what frequently is said and reported, they do not vote on a tax rate as such. That is set each year by the school board, based on what is necessary to provide adequate revenue to pay interest on all the bonds and principle on those scheduled for redemption. Voters also do not approve or disapprove the building plan or any part of it. That is done by the school board, subject to approval by Delaware Department of Education. Those steps have already been taken.

The referendum is scheduled for Thursday, May 31. Any district resident age 18 and older is eligible to vote. It is not necessary that a voter own property or be registered to vote in general elections. Owners of business or commercial properties are not eligible to vote unless they are district residents. The referendum is conducted by the state Department of Elections for New Castle County. Polling places will be announced. A simple majority of 'yes' votes (50% of those voting + 1) is required for the bond issue and the building program to go forward.

If that happens, the state of Delaware will match the Brandywine contribution for the building program with $57.8 million to meet the total authorized cost of those projects, $95,993,100. There will be no state money provided for the tracks. State law provides for the 60-40 match. The state money is authorized in the capital budget, commonly known as the annual bond bill, enacted by the General Assembly in June. That is financed also by short- and long-term borrowing with state taxpayers bearing the cost of debt service.

It is anticipated that local debt service, assuming a  6% interest rate on the bonds will require annual increases in the debt service portion of Brandywine's tax rate over the next five years, followed by annual decreases as bonds are paid off. However, selling additional bonds during those years to finance another phase of building would require increases. The present capital rate is 4 for each $100 of assessed property value. It would go to 5.13 next year and, in subsequent years, to 9.99, 13.18, 15.85 and 17.97. The current total rate is 92.9, most of which finances salaries, materials and other elements of current operations.

The pending building plan constitutes the second phase of a long-term building modernization program. The first phase, authorized by voters in November, 1993, resulted in the renovation of Carrcroft, Darley Road and Maple Lane Elementary Schools and Mount Pleasant and Brandywine High Schools. With completion of that phase in September, 1998, the district had intended to move forward with the second phase. A referendum planned for March, 1999, was cancelled, however, because of the release of an unfavorable report on a state audit of district finances. Since then, the plan has been modified, with the principal change being the dropping a proposal to build a new elementary or intermediate school in north Wilmington to replace now-closed Burnett Intermediate School. A third phase of building to follow the second one has been discussed, but no specific actions in that regard have been taken.

Information in the following table is, for the most part, from the certificate of necessity issued by DelDOE on Nov. 11, 2000.

The Brandywine building plan

Harlan Intermediate School

The library at Harlan used to be a 'mud room'. 

Built in 1932, the Harlan, on Jefferson Street between 36th and 38th Streets in north Wilmington, is the second oldest building in the district and the oldest school in continuous use.

Renovations will include the replacement and or upgrading of building mechanical and electrical systems, altering, modifying or repairing the facility and site to meet current building code requirements and plumbing systems, renovations to meet current building codes and life and safety issues. Renovations will also include roofing, interior and exterior renovations, walls, ceilings, doors and frames. The modernization will facilitate the initiation or upgrade of the school's instructional and management technology, integrated heating-ventilation-air conditioning systems and controls and an integrated communications network.

Planning start Construction Completion
June, 2001 June, 2002 September, 2003
Local cost State cost Total cost
$5,207,500 $7,811,200 $13,018,700
Concord High School

Part of the exterior wall at Concord is said to be bulging. 

Although the newest building in the district, opening in 1970, Concord, on Ebright Road just north of Naamans Road, is said to have structural deficiencies and needs to be brought into line with current educational standards.

Renovations will include the replacement and or upgrading of building mechanical and electrical systems, altering, modifying or repairing the facility and site to meet current building code requirements 

and plumbing systems, renovations to meet current building codes and life and safety issues. Renovations will also include roofing, interior and exterior renovations, walls, ceilings, doors and frames. Renovations will also facilitate the initiation and upgrading of the school's instructional, management and communications technology. Asbestos abatement and accessibility issues will also be addressed.

Students would be housed during construction in a cluster of modular classrooms, but the district has not obtained authorization from DelDOE to have the cost of those units included in the 60-40 split.

Planning start Construction Completion
June, 2001 June, 2003 September, 2004
Local cost State cost Total cost
$10,357,200 $15,535,700 $25,892,800
Forwood Elementary School

Forwood is located in North Graylyn Crest and characterized by a large playground. It was once part of a complex that also included a junior high school where Forwood Manor retirement facility is now located.

Renovations will include the replacement and or upgrading of building mechanical and electrical systems, altering, modifying or repairing the facility and site to meet current building code requirements and plumbing systems, renovations to meet current building codes and life and safety issues. Renovations will also include roofing, interior and exterior renovations, walls, ceilings, doors and frames. The modernization will facilitate the initiation or upgrade of the school's instructional and management technology, integrated heating-ventilation-air conditioning systems and controls and an integrated communications network.

Although they are not included in the DelDOE certificate, the district has said in other material that it intends to include additional classroom and office space in the project.

Planning start Construction Completion
June, 2003 June, 2004 September, 2005
Local cost State cost Total cost
$3,882,800 $5,824,100 $9,706,900
Lombardy Elementary School

Because of crowding, some Lombardy students are housed in modular classrooms at the rear of the building. 

Lombardy is located off Foulk Road opposite Deerhurst.

Renovations will include the replacement and or upgrading of building mechanical and electrical systems, altering, modifying or repairing the facility and site to meet current building code requirements. The modernization will facilitate the initiation or upgrade of the school's instructional and management technology, integrated heating-ventilation-air conditioning systems and controls and an integrated 

communications network. In addition to general renovations, this project includes an additional four classrooms, additional administrative space and an outside storage structure.

Planning start Construction Completion
June, 2003 June, 2004 September, 2005
Local cost State cost Total cost
$3,040,900 $4,561,400 $7,602,400
Talley Middle School

Talley is in Ramblewood, just north of Naamans Road and adjacent to Bechtel County Park.

Renovations will include the replacement and or upgrading of building mechanical and electrical systems, altering, modifying or repairing the facility and site to meet current building code requirements and plumbing systems, renovations to meet current building codes and life and safety issues. Renovations will also include roofing, interior and exterior renovations, walls, ceilings, doors and frames. The modernization will facilitate the initiation or upgrade of the school's instructional and management technology, integrated heating-ventilation-air conditioning systems and controls and an integrated communications network.

Planning start Construction Completion
June, 2004 June, 2005 September, 2006
Local cost State cost Total cost
$7,049,400 $10,574,100 $17,623,500
Mount Pleasant Elementary School

Mount Pleasant Elementary is on Duncan Road, east of Philadelphia Pike and just north of Bellefonte. Built in 1932 as a comprehensive school with grades one through 12 and renovated in 1987, the building also houses the Edgemoor Community Center, which a few years ago modernized and added onto its end of the building.

Renovations will include the replacement and or upgrading of building mechanical and electrical systems, altering, modifying or repairing the facility and site to meet current building code requirements and plumbing systems, renovations to meet current building codes and life and safety issues. Renovations will also include roofing, interior and exterior renovations, walls, ceilings, doors and frames. The modernization will facilitate the initiation or upgrade of the school's instructional and management technology, integrated heating-ventilation-air conditioning systems and controls and an integrated communications network.

District material also refers to restoration of the auditorium.

Although the work planned is relatively extensive, it is intended that it be done without having to located students in temporary facilities.

Planning start Construction Completion
January, 2002 June, 2002 September, 2004
Local cost State cost Total cost
$4,939,400 $7,409,200 $12,348,600
Mount Pleasant High School

Modernized during the 1995-96 academic year as part of the first phase of the long-term building plan, Mount Pleasant, on Washington Street Extension north of Marsh Road, requires window replacement and other work that was cut from the original project when an unexpected increase in labor cost -- to meet a requirement that contractors pay prevailing wages -- escalated total cost beyond the approved budget.

Renovations include interior and exterior renovations, heating-ventilation-air conditioning systems replacement and or repair and roofing.

Students will not be relocated while work is under way.

Planning start Construction Completion
January, 2002 June, 2002 September, 2003
Local cost State cost Total cost
$1,236,800 $1,855,300 $3,092,100
Claymont Intermediate School

The empty swimming pool at Claymont now holds a variety of furniture and other stored material. 

Claymont Intermediate, on Green Street at Seminole Avenue, is in the building which formerly housed Claymont High School.

According to the DelDOT certificate, renovations will include the replacement and or upgrading of building mechanical and electrical systems, altering, modifying or repairing the facility and site to meet current building code requirements and plumbing systems, renovations to meet current building codes and life and safety issues. Renovations will also include roofing, interior and exterior renovations, walls, ceilings, doors and frames. The 

modernization will facilitate the initiation or upgrade of the school's instructional and management technology, integrated heating-ventilation-air conditioning systems and controls and an integrated communications network.

Information from the district refers to reopening the former high school's swimming pool, closed several years ago after failing a Division of Public Health inspection, and renovations to the auditorium, gymnasium and local room as well as window replacement.

Students will not be relocated while work is under way.

Planning start Construction Completion
January, 2003 June, 2003 September, 2004
Local cost State cost Total cost
$2,683,200 $4,024.900 $6,708,100
The entire program
Planning start Construction Completion Local cost State cost Total cost
June, 2001 June, 2002 September, 2006 $38,397,200 $57,595,900 $95,993,100
Running tracks

Puddles remain on the running track at Brandywine High's Von Stetten Stadium long after the rain has gone. The compact clay surface of the track is said to be dangerous for student athletes.

In a last-minute compromise to avoid a public controversy over the possible elimination of renovations to the Claymont swimming pool from the program, the district decided to make a separate issue about whether to install all-weather running tracks at Brandywine, Concord and Mount Pleasant High Schools. Voters will decide that separately.

A financial review taskforce included tracks among its recommendations, stating: "The district's athletic facilities and playgrounds have deteriorated over the years and, in many ways, appear below the standards of other districts in Delaware. ... The high schools also lack 

facilities for athletes to practice field events and other playing fields at many buildings need grading. ... School playgrounds are also in need of attention and repair."

District officials have promised to soon provide additional information about that aspect of the referendum proposals.

Posted on March 26, 2001

2001. All rights reserved.

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