out of our hands," president Nancy Doorey told the school board
after informing it that a provision in the state capital
spending law gives the Delaware Economic Development Office, in
conjunction with the state budget director and controller
general, the authority to handle disposition of the property.
Delaforum previously reported, the development office is
interested in the site as a possible location of an office
building to accommodate the planned expansion of the Access
Group, a nonprofit firm involved in providing financing for
students going to law schools or pursuing other advanced
start of the meeting on June 7, Joseph Brumskill and Sandra
Skelley, both of whom were unopposed for the positions, were
sworn in as new members of the school board. They succeed Ralph
Ackerman and Harold Thompson, who did not seek re-election.
Doorey was returned as president of the board, succeeding David
Adkins, who had succeeded her last year. Brumskill was elected
to succeed her as vice president. Those votes were unanimous.
with other matters, the board ...
a new system for determining administrators' salaries which
calls for the biggest criteria for determining raises to be the
performance of students in the respective administrator's
the hiring of a new principal for Mount Pleasant High School;
property tax rate for fiscal 2004 slightly higher than was
applied in the fiscal year just ended.
Brandywine is faced with getting rid of two derelict school
buildings, which have been closed and used for nothing other
than storage since the late 1970s. One is Channin, located near
the entrance of the community of the same name, and the other is
Old Mill Lane in Liftwood.
school board had been scheduled to determine whether they and
the tracts on which they stand would officially be declared
surplus. Such a declaration was considered a foregone
conclusion. In light of the Assembly's action, however, that
item was dropped from the meeting agenda.
normal procedure, set out in state law, state agencies and
county agencies have the right of first and second refusal,
respectively, to acquire the properties. If there are no takers,
the properties are to be offered on a fair-market-value basis to
the general public. The provision inserted into the capital
spending law, which applies to both Brandywine district schools
but to no others, authorizes circumventing that procedure.
Channin building stands on what is considered to be commercially
valuable land on a major highway. Old Mill Lane, on the other
hand, is located well within a residential neighborhood.
no longer involved in the decision making, the school district
is to receive a share of the proceeds of any sale in proportion
to its initial investment in the property. Generally speaking,
that amounts to about 40%.
provision is the 108th section of the 73-page law. That part of
the annual legislation is popularly referred to as the
'epilogue' of the 'bond bill'. It is used by legislators to
specify directions as to how state money should be spent.
Because they are an integral part of the law, 'epilogue'
provisions have equal force of law.
Representative Wayne Smith, who was responsible for having the
provision inserted into the law, told Delaforum that it has a
dual purpose -- to provide a potential site for a sports field
study committee now being formed and to enable the development
office "to move quickly should the 'right' business development
opportunity come along." In the latter event, the office has
"agreed to consult with the community before making any moves."
Delaforum previously reported, the Channin Civic Association is
formally on record as favoring preservation of that site as open
space or using it for parkland. The association has specifically
said it will oppose any commercial use of the property.
agreed that both school buildings are in such decrepit condition
that their rehabilitation would be cost-prohibitive. Both
properties are zoned for residential use -- schools are one of
the uses permitted under residential zoning. It is unclear
whether the development office could acquire the property,
override county zoning by virtue of its power of eminent domain,
and then sell or lease the property to a private entity.
Bowman, Brandywine's chief financial officer, told the board
that the administrators' salary plan will "allow us to get
competitive and remain competitive" with other districts, both
locally and regionally, when it comes to attracting and
retaining administrators. Superintendent Bruce Harter told the
board that Brandywine recently 'lost' a a good prospect to the
New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District because
of the disparity in salary offers.
Brandwyine salary schedule, which will be implemented over the
course of this and the next fiscal yeasr, is pegged to the
average pay of principals of primary schools. That base is set
initially at an average of $95,000. Under the plan, average
salaries will be raised to 95% of that level this year, bringing
the fiscal 2003 average for those principals, $88,191, to
$90,250 this year and $95,000 in fiscal 2005.
administrators' salaries will be indexed from there. An
assistant superintendent, for instance, will receive 120% of the
base, a high school principal 108%, a middle school assistant
principal 95% and the lowest level specialist 60%.
said that, under the plan, his salary and that of assistant
superintendent Tammy Davis, are 'frozen' for this year. All
other administrators are in line to get raises, retroactive to
July 1. Average increases will range up to $3,930 for those at
the lowest point on the scale.
superintendent's salary is determined by the school board. The
district's preliminary budget for fiscal 2004, approved in June,
lists it as $135,000.
calls for removing the distinction between the portion of an
administrator's salary paid by the state and the portion paid by
the district. They will not lose out on state raises, however,
because the base will be increased each year to reflect whatever
is determined in that regard by the General Assembly, Blowman
emphasized that the amounts in the approved salary schedule are
raises under the plan, he said, will be determined by individual
employee evaluations. Sixty percent of that evaluation will be
based on student performance, 25% on the individual's
performance against goals established a year earlier and the
remaining 15% on years of experience. Student performance, he
said, will be determined by gains made in a year-to-year
comparison of state student assessment test scores. That process
"clearly is consistent with the goals of the Brandywine
strategic plan," Blowman's report to the board said
amount available for merit raises will be determined each year
by the board. That will not happen until next year, he
explained, because of the need to establish a basis for
of implementing the plan this year, he said, will be $192,000.
But, he added, administrator' raises, if determined in the
traditional way, would have been about $100,000.
approved by a vote of 6-0, with board member Thomas Lapinski
abstaining. During discussion, Lapinski said that accepting the
plan's merger of state and local pays was tantamount to
"forfeiting your right." guaranteed by state law, to participate
in an overall pay increase for state employees.
Mount Pleasant principal is Gregg P. Robinson, who comes to
Brandywine from Gateway High School in Kissimmee, Fla. Harter
told the board that Robinson's chief credential was his
successfully overseeing the school's International Baccalaureate
Program. Gateway's enrollment is 72% Hispanic and African
American, he said.
Plreasant is in the process of initiating such a program. It is
expected to be the first public school and the second high
school in Delaware to do so.
adopted, without discussion, a tax rate of $1.1875 for each $100
of assessed property value. That is up from $1.1745 in the year
just ended. The increase is in the current expense portion of
the tax, which goes to 96.9¢.
A 2¢ increase in the debt service component is offset by 1¢
decreases in the tuition and minor capital expenses portion. The
operating rate is 1.3¢ below the ceiling approved by voters in a
referendum in 2002.
board again this year did not pass on a state-financed reduction
of the property tax on primary residences. It has the option of
doing so or keeping the state money that would have financed it.
Seniors pay half of the first $1,000 of taxes. That discount
also is financed by the state, but school districts do not have
the option of retaining that money. Property taxes are due, in
full, on Sept. 30.
cautioned that taxpayers can expect a tax increase next year as
the result of increasing debt service as the district borrows to
pay for its extensive building renovation program.