Superintendent Donald Fantine said after a special school board
meeting on Feb. 21 that those things are permissible within
state law and policies and could be accomplished within the $96
million plan DelDOE approved last autumn. He was not specific,
however, as to what elements of the original plan would have to
be changed to accommodate the new ones.
event, district voters will have to authorize $38.4 million
worth of bonds in order for any plan to become operative.
meeting was called to react to and set courses of action for
implementing the 26 recommendations contained in a
recently published report of a financial review taskforce. Most
of the discussion, however, focused on the building plan and
that current state of school maintenance and custodial services.
told the meeting that providing a modular classroom complex, on
either the Concord High School campus at Naamans and Ebright
Roads or at the site of the closed Chanin School farther east on
Naamans Road, would enable six school buildings to be modernized
within a year apiece instead of three or four years that would
be required if the work was done in sections while the buildings
remained in operation.
issue is one that has been pending for several years,
particularly as regards Brandywine High School where a parents
group has been pressing hard for replacing the existing one.
The\ taskforce recommended that an all-weather track be
installed at at least one of the district's three high schools
if not all of them. The taskforce found that other athletic
facilities and playgrounds have deteriorated to the extent that
they "appear below the standards of other districts in
told the board that installing a playground that meets current
safety and other standards can cost between $80,000 and
$100,000. No longer can parent volunteers handle that job, he
committee being formed to address the issue has been given a
information, along with other material bearing on the matter
must be on hand by the board's Mar. 19 business meeting. It must
decide that night whether to move forward with a capital
referendum this school year.
window for doing so is roughly the last two weeks in May and the
first week in June. The state Department of Elections for New
Castle County requires six weeks to prepare to conduct a
referendum vote and the General Assembly must have results in
time to include or not include the state share of the cost in
the annual capital budget traditionally enacted just before the
session concludes at the end of June.
taskforce suggestion that the DelDOE-approved plan is outdated
because cost estimates were made two years ago was rejected.
Todd Conn, supervisor of school facilities, said all the
estimates have been reviewed within the past six months and
contain inflation factors to allow for later timing of actual
no definitive action was taken, discussion by board members and
administrators at the special meeting conveyed a sense that the
board is leaning toward holding a capital referendum but is
still ambivalent about whether to go for an operating tax rate
increase at the same time.
taskforce recommended it be put off until the 2001-02 school and
fiscal year. Holding one this fiscal year, however, would give
Brandywine a third opportunity to obtain voter approval since
state law requires school districts to provide a six-month
interval between going to referendum.
mentioned that the district has hired a public information
officer and that her primary initial duty will be "a major
effort toward building public trust." That has been cited
as the major determinant factor with regard to holding one or
more referendum. She was identified by Superintendent Victoria
Gehrt as Carol Riggs and was said to have extensive experience
in school-community relations in Maryland.
taskforce observation that, disstrictwide, Brandywine is
overstaffed with custodians but several of its buildings are
lacking in the cleanliness department drew a split response. On
the one hand, Conn said relating janitorial positions to the
number of students in a building, as the taskforce did, was not
an appropriate measure of productivity. On the other hand, he
acknowledged a wide disparity in training and experience among
the custodial staff and said steps are being to taken to improve
their training and supervision.