said at a workshop-style meeting on Mar. 12 that belt tightening
is necessary if the district is going to have enough money to
meet payroll and pay its bills during the first three months of
the fiscal year which begins July 1.
there will not be enough to get us through until the tax
[revenue] starts coming in," he said. Property taxes, the
major source of local revenue, are not due until Sept. 30.
the bulk of that money during the second quarter of the
board is faced with a decision at its regular business
meeting on Mar. 19 whether to go to voters by early June
to seek authorization to sell $38.4 million worth of
bonds to finance the district's 40% share of a $96
million building renovation program, approval to raise
its operating tax rate -- which has held at 76.4¢ for
each $100 of assessed property value since 1995, or
financial review taskforce recommended that the district
seek the bond authorization this spring but hold
Mt. Pleasant High
Mt. Pleasant Elem.
autumn on the tax-rate question. Shockley said that also his
go for [both] when you know [voters] are not going to
approve?" he said.
a more definitive case can be made for renovating the eight
buildings selected for the program, he said the public is more
likely to be agreeable to that. If so they will authorize an
estimated tax rate climbing in increments to a maximum of 17.97¢
in three to five years, depending on the state's timing of the
bond sales. That would amount to $67.83 on a property assessed for
$85,000, which is about average for a Brandywine Hundred
Brandywine bond referendum would match the one approved in late
1999 in the Colonial School District, the largest ever in the
state. Red Clay Consolidated District will go to voters on Apr. 10
with a proposal nearly double that amount.
there is to be any referendum before the end of the fiscal year,
the board must act on Mar. 19 to allow the Department of Elections
for New Castle County to make the necessary arrangements to
conduct it and to then certify results for the new tax rate to be
included in fiscal 2002 bills. The district has until the middle
of July to actually set its tax rate.
said he has "targeted four areas" for the planned budget
cuts, none of which would seriously disrupt classroom instruction.
At worst, he added, "there will be a negligible impact."
He assured board president Nancy Doorey that teachers will not be
running out of paper and other supplies as the academic year winds
pressed by board member Robert Blew for specifics, Shockley
avoided itemizing where cuts will be made other than to say not
filling the equivalent of 4½ now vacant administrative positions
will yield about $175,000. "I have a very ambitious plan for
the rest of [this fiscal] year," he said.
beyond the current year, he indicated that dramatic cuts are in
store if voters do not approve an increase in the tax rate before
June 30, 2002. As previously reported in a Delaforum interview, he
said a prime target would be 37 positions, mostly
paraprofessional, financed entirely with local money. "When
85% of your money goes into [pay and benefits for] personnel,
that's where you have to make your cuts," Shockley said.
more year is the most we can squeeze out of [the current tax rate]
and we can only do that with some cutting and careful
management," he said.
questioned what effect not holding an operating tax referendum
this year will have. She noted that teachers are now working under
a one-year extension of their union's contract which expired last
August. Referring to that as "a one-year patch" she said
having to repeat that for the coming year would seriously hurt
morale and could lead to teachers looking elsewhere for a job.
board member Paul Hart argued that it would be a good idea to hold
a tax referendum this spring because that would provide three,
rather than two, opportunities to obtain approval. State law
limits school districts to holding two referendums in any 12-month
period. "If you don't get it (approval) by next year, you're
on a collision course for disaster," he said.