another matter at its monthly business meeting on Oct. 18, the
board formally ratified a $150,000 settlement of the civil
lawsuit stemming from the dismissal of Richard Hauge, the
administrator who touched off the investigation into the
district's financial affairs which ultimately toppled its
said that previous estimates which put initial implementation
costs at just over $2 million, net of savings on bus
transportation, were too low. They did not take into account
continuing additional operating expenses which, over the ensuing
10 years will run somewhere in the range of $23 million to $25
million, net, before taking inflation into consideration, he
Representative Wayne Smith, who sponsored the controversial
legislation, and other Republican state representatives from
Brandywine Hundred who supported it, Robert Valihura and Gregory
Lavelle, claimed that the district's estimates are exaggerated.
They said that cumulative net savings over 10 years would be
between $488,000 and $3 million. If a provision in the
district's calculations to cover staff planning and orientation
to new buildings during the transition is eliminated, those
amounts would increase by $610,000.
legislators said cumulative savings would offset cumulative
costs somewhere between four and eight years from
one, the Brandywine School District has downplayed the overall
cost savings aspect of the neighborhood schools plans. When
analyzed, it is clear that residents of the Brandywine School
District will have lower tax rates and less expensive schooling
as a result of adopting one of the proposed neighborhood school
plans now before the school board," they said in a press
said at the board meeting that his data was developed from "a
conservative application" of actual spending in the Charlotte,
N.C., area and Montgomery County, Md., to deal with a
concentration of students in 'high poverty' circumstances in
some schools. Brandywine has been told it will have two or three
such schools, depending on which student-assignment plan it
adopts, whereas it now has one. A 'high poverty' school is
defined as one in which more than half the students qualify for
free or reduced-price lunches under U.S. Department of
that Washington (the federal government) will say, 'Now that you
have "high-poverty" schools, we'll give you more money.' What
they'll do is ask us, 'Why did you create "high poverty"
schools?'," he said.
"Significant additional resources will need to be provided to
these schools annually in order to 'hold harmless' the students
assigned to them and bring their achievement at least to the
level it would be if assignments had not been changed," the
district said in a 16 page tabloid newspaper size flyer now
being mailed to all residences in preparation for a vote on Oct.
30 to gauge residents' preference among the three plans being
presentation to the board was essentially the same that is in
though expected savings in transportation costs have been
shifted out of the original implementation estimate and into the
estimated annual operating costs, the former still come in
between $2.4 million and $2.5 million, depending on which plan
is selected, he said. Those expenses include such things as
moving costs, paying teachers to participate in the process,
purchase of new books to serve revised grade configurations, and
installing science laboratories and establishing music and
athletic programs at P.S. du Pont, which would come to include
seventh and eighth grades.
operating costs, net of transportation savings, is expected to
range between $2.3 million and $2.5 million, again depending
upon which plan is selected, according to the estimates.
element in that is staffing additional classrooms needed to
accommodate smaller classes that are deemed necessary to
effectively teach high concentrations of poor students. Harter
said the limits would be 15 in kindergarten, 17 in grades one
through three, and 22 in grades four through six.
cost factor, he said, would be providing incentive pay to
attract experienced and 'quality' teachers to accept assignment
to the 'high poverty' schools. The figures Harter presented are
based on paying a bonus of $3,000 a year.
Neighborhood Schools Act provides that Brandywine and the three
other northern New Castle County districts that are required to
realign their student assignment patterns will receive one-time
appropriates of $1,250,000 to cover transition costs and will be
entitled to whatever transportation savings the state realizes
during the first 10 years after implementation. The state pays
the entire cost of getting pupils to and from school.
earliest any Neighborhood Schools Act plan can be implemented is
told the board that, with the mailing of the flyer, Brandywine
is initiating an intensive get-out-the-vote campaign. The board
previously has said that results of the selection among the
three plans will be binding if the turnout is equal to or
greater than the nearly 10,000 who voted in the bond referendum
which will go before the public and eventually the school board
call for assigning students to schools with modified attendance
areas based on either postal zip codes or the geometric
midpoints between schools, or establishing a 'magnet' school on
a 'campus' which includes the P.S. and Harlan Intermediate
buildings in Wilmington.
question on the ballot will be, in effect, a plebiscite on the
Neighborhood Schools Act itself, although the ballot will note
that the school board has no authority to change the law.
as this vote is out of the way, the district will turn its
attention to another one, tentatively scheduled for next March.
That will seek an increase in the ceiling in the district's
operations tax rate. To that end, board vice president David
Adkins said that it is anticipated that a five-year strategic
plan for the district will be ready for adoption in December.
The plan and costs associated with it will form the basis for
what will be sought at the referendum.
settlement was reached and presented to the board at a special
closed-to-the-public executive session on Oct. 11. It provides
that Hauge will receive $75,000, which will come from a district
insurance policy, and his lawyer, Barbara Straton, will get an
equal amount toward her legal fees, paid from district funds.
not disclosed how much Barry Willoughby, the lawyer the district
hired on a special basis to defend it in both the Hauge suit and
one by Thomas Lapinski, former principal of Mt. Pleasant High
School and now a board member, has been or will be paid.
Willoughby said the settlement was "entirely a matter of
economics." He explained that allowing the Hauge case to go to
trial would cost the district at least $150,000 in pre-trial
proceedings alone and, even if it were to win the case, it would
be much better off to end it at this point.
Willoughby and board president Nancy Doorey indicated that the
district thought it would win the case if it did go to trial,
but that there were advantages to being done with the matter
left over from the administration of former superintendent
Joseph DeJohn. Hauge had charged that his contract as district
business manager was not renewed because he called in Thomas
Wagner, state auditor of accounts, when he learned for
questionable spending of district money.
board member Larry Nicholson and former business manager Patrick
Miler pleaded guilty and no contest, respectively, and
received probation as a result of criminal charges stemming from
written statement issued after the settlement was publicly
disclosed, Hauge said he was "grateful" for the settlement, but
"disappointed [that] the board has failed to include an apology
to me and to the residents [of the district] for the manner in
which the entire DeJohn fiasco was handled."
"In failing to squarely and
honestly admit their mistake, the board sends a message that
they either do not understand or do not believe that firing
someone for reporting criminal activity is not only wrong but
contrary to the public interest. In either event, this aspect
of the settlement leaves the board out of sync with the
constituents they represent, and offers the specter that
employees in the future will continue to be harassed and fired
for attempting to expose criminal activity and misconduct," his