The board received what Shockley
referred to as a "very preliminary" draft of the document at a
special meeting on May 15. If past practice is followed, as is
expected, it will approve a preliminary budget around the start
of the new fiscal year and adopt a final version after the level
of state financing is determined on the basis of enrollment at
the end of September.
said that, in trimming the budget, he was careful to avoid
taking out anything that would directly impact students. While
the district "will be able to continue to provide a high level
of service to our students" if something like the draft is
approved, he cautioned board members that "anything you take out
will jeopardize [that] service."
there is no provision in the budget to implement any of the
still developing 'visions and priorities' advanced by a
community taskforce earlier this year. He extended that to
include implementation of any significant new programs.
other hand, he said, allocations to the individual schools will
be made using the same formula, based on the number of students
they have, as this year. If a school does not gain or lose any
students it would match dollar-for-dollar its 2000-01
appropriation. Board president Nancy Doorey noted, however, that
an anticipated 3% inflation rate would reduce actual spending
power by the same rate.
he will recommend that the district continue its current tax
rates -- totaling 92.9¢ for
each $100 of assessed property value -- next year. Part of that
could be increased, however, if district voters authorize a bond
issue to finance school renovations in a referendum on May 31.
The tax plan provides that the district again retain, as it did
last year, the money the state appropriates to finance, in
districts which agree to do so, a rate reduction.
meeting, Shockley declined to say what sort of salary increases,
particularly for teachers, he factored into his budget
projections. He did note that payroll accounts for 80% of
overall spending. In declining to be specific, he noted that the
district administration is currently in negotiation with the
district's teachers' union. Brandywine teachers currently are
working under an extension of the contract which expired last
August and, in the absence of a referendum seeking authorization
to raise the ceiling on the district's operating tax rate, are
expected to agree to a further extension this year.
government has proposed granting all employees, including
teachers, a 2% raise. About 70% of a teacher's salary is paid by
the state with the district making up the rest from local
said three other bargaining units have existing contracts, which
call for pay raises and which will be honored.
the board that the budget does not require any staff reductions,
except those which would occur if an expected decrease in
enrollment occurs. The state allocates teacher positions on the
basis of 'units' determined by the number of students officially
counted as enrolled in September.
however, that an assistant superintendency may be dropped along
with a position as executive assistant to the superintendent.
Brandywine is slated to get a new superintendent, Bruce Harter,
on July 1.
did note that locally-financed spending is preliminarily
projected to increase by 2.3% in the coming year. Total
spending, which includes state and federal portions, will be
down nearly 1.7%, he said.
budget projects total revenue of $97,358,521 and total spending
of $100,186,996. The difference will be made up from balances
carried over from this fiscal year, but those balances will be
reduced to $3,947,953 by June 30, 2002.That leaves only a 4%
cushion. Local revenue is projected at $28,688,667 against local
spending of $25,513,251.
district, he said, stands to 'lose' more than $2 million as the
result of the ending of a state program for financing technology
and an enhancement of its subsidy for minor capital spending.
expected to decline, by about $150,000, is Brandywine's share of
school tax money collected on a countywide basis. In response to
a question from the board, he said that the outflow from
Brandywine to other county districts as a result of the system
imposed under plan for consolidating districts to achieve racial
integration will run between $500,000 and $750,000. The
Brandywine and Red Clay districts must, in effect, subsidize
other districts under the arrangement.
imponderable is the effect that implementation of the
Neighborhood Schools Act will have on the district's budget. If
things proceed as the law now requires, Brandywine will have to
add two and possibly three grades to all of its elementary
schools in September, 2002, with an attendance scheme calling
for elementary schools with kindergarten through fifth or sixth
grade. Preparations to do that would have to begin next spring.
said that Brandywine's lawyer has advised that the district will
be obligated to bear any costs associated with Neighborhood
Schools if the General Assembly does not come through with money
to finance the required changes.
While the district will be able to
squeak by during the coming year without an operating tax
increase -- and a referendum to authorize it -- it will not be
able to go into the 2002-03 fiscal and academic years without
one, Shockley said. "There will be absolutely no flexibility
left," he said.
An extended executive session
delayed the meeting nearly an hour beyond its scheduled start.
After about 40 minutes in public session, the board again
retreated behind closed doors. No one would say what the topic
of discussion was.