Brandywine school board accepted a three-phase plan for a
complete overhaul of the 32-year-old building off Ebright Road
in northern Brandywine Hundred. That will permit the district to
move quickly to solicit construction bids on the $25.9 million
project and begin awarding contracts this spring. Work is
scheduled to begin as soon as the academic year ends in June.
meeting on Jan. 16, the board also agreed to an aggressive
teacher-recruiting campaign with a view toward signing up "the
best and brightest" of available teacher candidates for the
2003-04 school year before the crop is picked over.
Brandywine had asked the Delaware Department of Education for
$22.8 million in capital funds to cover the state's 60% share of
the cost of implementing its extensive school-renovation program
during the fiscal year which begins July 1. Citing the state's
financial crisis, DelDOE has reduced the amount of capital funds
it will request from the General Assembly. As a result,
Brandywine has been told that its request will be cut by $7
million, or nearly a third.
school board accepted a recommendation that it apply all of the
reduction to the cost of planning for renovation of Talley
Middle School and Forward and Lombardy Elementary Schools in
subsequent years, even though that will likely result in delays
of four to six months in the timetables for the elementary
agreeing to what was described as "our part" in meeting the
state's budget crisis, the recommendation stipulated that
Brandywine will expect the $7 million it is giving up for the coming fiscal
year to be added to what it has requested for Fiscal 2005.
operating side of the state's financial crunch, the board
was told that the Minner administration's recently reported
'finding' of sufficient revenue from abandoned property to
enable it to cancel its request that school districts give back
a portion of their state allotments, will have a salubrious
effect on Brandywine's own financial health. It will get to keep
the $925, 799 it previously agreed to 'return' to the
that translates into putting about $200,000 back into the
Brandywine budget to avoid having to cut some disciplinary
programs, professional development and other things, financial
officer David Blowman told the board. Most of the 'give back'
was in the form of credits for money not spent to pay custodians
in authorized but not filled positions and as a result of not
hiring some teachers until as late as early October.
The approved Concord High plan calls
for rebuilding the school's office complex, cafeteria, kitchen
and lower-floor classrooms during the coming summer; the rest of
its academic classrooms and most other parts of the building
during the 2003-04 academic year; and its science laboratories
during the summer of 2004.
The board accepted a bid of $734,000
from G.E. Capital Modular Space to install and later remove
modular classroom and $49,200 a month to lease them in order to
house Concord students during the renovation.
Doris Stevenson, director of human
resources, told the board that the recruiting effort will
concentrate on "critical areas of need" based on anticipated
retirements and resignations. In, particular, she said,
mathematics and language teachers will be needed. Distribution
of a recruiting brochure prepared by DelDOE and supplemented
with Brandywine district material and participation in regional
'job fairs', including one which Brandywine will sponsor, are
the main strategies to be used.
Brandywine, she said, hires about 60
new teachers a year. There are 72 present teachers with 30 or
more years of service eligible for retirement and, based on past
experience, about 25% to 30% of them can be expected to go. The
district this year is offering $500 to those who submit notices
of their intention to retire by the end of January.
This year it will attempt to have
many, if not most, of the new teachers signed up during the
spring rather than over the summer. "You can't wait until August
and [expect] to get the top candidates," she said. "We hope to
have early commitments by the end of March."
While new graduates are the primary
object of the recruiting, Stevenson said experienced teachers
also will be sought. Present staff members are being asked to
identify potential candidates and selective approaches will be
made to "others whose excellence in teaching has been
recognized" through such things as publicized awards and having
achieved national certification, both in other Delaware
districts and elsewhere.