Blowman, Brandywine's chief financial officer, explained that
the district received 20 special-education 'teaching units' more
than what it otherwise would be entitled to as a result of its
participating, with the Seaford district in Sussex County, in a
pilot program involving staffing of intensive-learning programs.
Seventy-five children whose education previously would have been
financed by a state grant are now included in the
'unit'-financed enrollment at Bush Early Learning Center.
Brandywine has used its full complement of 653 regular 'teaching
units' to staff classroom and other positions this year, "we did
not feel comfortable using all the additional units," Blowman
said in response to an inquiry from Delaforum.
program may not be continued beyond this year, he said. With
anticipated decline in total enrollment, the district could end
up with more teachers than needed. While the district hires more
than eight new teachers each year and is likely to do so for the
1904-05 school year, Blowman said the surplus teachers might not
have the necessary certification to fill vacant slots.
alternative to not filling additional positions now could be
having to 'rif' several teachers at the end of this year. 'Rif'
is acronym jargon for 'reduction in (of) [work]force'.
of the unfilled teacher positions was reported in the final
version of Brandywine's fiscal 2004 operating budget, which was
approved by the school board on Dec. 15. That document also
revealed how the district intends to 'return' $634,010 to state
coffers. That actually will be a bookkeeping exercise with the
district receiving credits for money appropriated to it but not
little-noted provision in the epilogue of the state budget act
passed by the General Assembly in June requires public schools
to 'return' $7 million. A similar arrangement last year -- at
the 'request' of Governor Ruth Ann Minner, but not a matter of
state law -- was rescinded when the state received an unexpected
'windfall' from a major escheat settlement.
he feels that is likely to happen again this year, particularly
as a result of the greatly improved outlook for state revenue
reported by the Delaware Economic & Financial Advisory Council,
Blowman replied, "We can only hope." That would require action
by the Assembly after it reconvenes in January to repeal that
part of the budget act.
though there were signs pointing to an improved economy and
greater state revenue before the Assembly acted, Blowman said it
was anticipated that lawmakers would hold tight rein on
spending. Requiring districts to 'return' money, he said, was
preferable to simply appropriating less money "because it gave
us the decision [about] where to make the cuts."
filling four of the eight teaching units would result in a
credit of $140,000, or about 22% of the obligation. Also on the
list is a credit of $158,503, or about 25%, for not filling six
authorized custodial positions. The rest of the money will be
taken from several other programs.
the not-to-be filled 'teaching units' to the school board's
granting itself a waiver from the state law which limits to 22
the number of students in primary grade classes, board president
Nancy Doorey noted at the meeting that reassigning children to a
new teacher brought on this far into the academy year would be a
disservice to them. Brandywine has 39 classes with enrollments
over the limit.
recently published statement, superintendent Bruce Harter noted
that children "do not come to our schools in neat blocks of 22
students." He said that 29 of the 39 classes are oversize by
just one student.
staffing report in the budget document approved by the school
board shows five postions out of 972 in the district totally
financed by local money. They are the internal auditor, public
information officer, manager of the Mount Pleasant High radio
station, a Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps teacher at
Mount Pleassant and a clerical employee.
bottom line in the approved budget, exclusive of earmarked
federal money, shows spending of $99.7 million, against state
and local revenue of $104.3 million. If that holds, the loacl
reserve to be carried over at the end of the fiscal year on June
30 will be $5.1 million.
acting on the budget, the board was told that, for the first
time, six school principals were included in the putting it
together. "It used to be that we had to know who controlled a
[particular] pot of money and [on] what day to call that person
to have access to that pot," said Cheryl Morton, principal at