he said "it is still a proposal at this point," David Blowman,
the district's chief financial officer, gave the school board a
preview at its meeting on Oct. 27 and received a favorable, if
not enthusiastic, response.
another matter before the meeting, food services supervisor Pam
Gouge told the board that the district has cracked down on junk
food in its cafeterias and will get even tougher next year. In
fact, she said that is all part of an effort to have Delaware join
several other states in legislating nutritional standards for
housing program would make Brandywine one of the first employers
in the state to participate in the Federal National Mortgage
Association's Employer-Assisted Housing Initiative and
the related State Housing Authority's 'Live near where you work'
program. The Fannie Mae initiative is designed primarily to put
first-time home buyers into 'affordable housing'.
how it would work in Brandywine:
10 new teachers recruited each year -- most of them directly out
of college or graduate school -- would be given the option of
being lent $2,500 to be applied to the downpayment on a house in
the district. They would have up to five years of continuous
employment to exercise the options.
of the loan would be would be 'forgiven' each subsequent year
that the teacher remained employed by the district.
would receive an outright grant of $1,000 from the state
authority and, depending on the location of the property, $1,000
from either the city of Wilmington or New Castle County
would obtain a Fannie Mae mortgage through Wilmington Trust bank
and receive home-ownership and 'financial literacy' counseling
from Interfaith Housing and Delaware Money School, respectively.
Susan Frank, a local Fannie Mae official, said the mortgage
would be at the going interest rate, but would be 'flexible' in
terms of qualifying for it.
Up to 25
other members of the teaching staff would be permitted to enter
the program on a first-come basis in any fiscal year. They could
either be first-time buyers or present homeowners wanting to buy
a property located within the geographic limits of the district,
which includes north Wilmington and Brandywine Hundred.
said the teachers' union is supportive of the idea and the
district administration views it as "one more tool we can use to
help lock in good teachers." He added that it dovetails with
Brandywine's "aggressive approach" to recruiting, mandated by
the district's long-range strategic plan.
began prior to this academic year by selective recruiting early
in the calendar year. Superintendent Bruce Harter said the
district will continue to emphasize early recruiting of
teachers to fill positions considered to be critical needs.
districts will be fast on our heels; this [plan] will enable us
to stay out in front," said board president Nancy Doorey.
said the district sees an advantage in having as many of its
teachers as possible living in the district and thereby becoming
part of the community from which the district draws its students
and their parents.
be doing a cost analysis at some point," he said, adding, not
entirely facetiously, "as the finance officer, I get a lot
of the money we spend back in taxes."
told the board that, with the reopening of school in September,
the district eliminated snacks and drinks with high fat and
sugar content from its 'a la carte' menus. Those are items which
students can buy independently of the prepared meals in the
school lunch program.
said, is big business. Sales of such items in Brandywine schools
are in the same range as national averages -- $400 a day in
elementary schools, $1,400 in middle schools and $3,000 in high
from the menu this year are items with more than 10 grams of fat
and 30 grams of sugar as well as beverages that do not contain
fruit juice. Next September, she said, that will go down to 8
grams of fat and a requirement for 50% fruit juice content.
standards also refer to portion sizes. "We don't jumbo-size any
of our snacks," she said. Tastykakes, for instance, are being
served in pairs rather than three or four in a set.
standards are based on national nutrition norms aimed at
countering juvenile obesity, diabetes and other health issues.
approach Brandywine and some other districts are taking will be
presented to the General Assembly next spring by the state
association of school food service officials, she said. "Eight
states have implemented the standards and in California they are
law." The goal in Delaware is to have the standards applied in
at least 75% of the schools by the 2005-06 academic year and
mandatory by the following year.
district students have generally favored the moves taken this
year and that sales of snack items are holding to previous
levels. The only 'revolt', she said, was at Brandywine High
School where students protested removal of "their favorite
cookie" from the snack offerings. Some students convinced her to
recheck the cookie's content against the standard and, when the
review found it to have qualified after all, the decision was
reversed, she said.