thing off the table is recommending closure of any recently
renovated building. And the board reserved the right to put that
back on the table if the committee dealing with facilities feels
strongly that that should be done.
mandate is somewhat vague on which buildings are exempt, coming
at it in a backhanded way by stating that the taskforce "may
consider only those schools that have not been renovated since
1999." If taken literally, that refers only to Harlan
High is currently being renovated as is a wing of Claymont
Intermediate. Mount Pleasant Elementary and Mount Pleasant High
have had some renovation work done. Plans for renovating Forward
Elementary, beginning during the coming summer, have been
completed. Renovations of Lombardy Elementary and Talley Middle
are to be planned in the coming fiscal year and undertaken
during the 2005-06 academic year.
buildings -- Carrcroft, Darley Road and Maple Lane Elementary
and Mount Pleasant and Brandywine High -- were renovated in the
1990s, but that work was completed before 1999.
Read, who oversees the renovations program, later said the
intent was to exclude Concord and Mount Pleasant High, Talley
Middle, Harlan Intermediate, and Forward, Lombardy and Mount
member David Adkins questioned if establishing a no-close
zone was a good idea, whether its boundary was vaguely or
clearly defined. "They should be allowed to [recommend closing]
any building that makes sense," he said. He did not press the
point when board president Nancy Doorey responded that the
mandate could be easily altered if that proves desirable.
did caution that the district "doesn't want to end up with
another Channin or Old Mill Lane." Buildings in those
communities were closed in the last 1970s and have since become
derelicts. Superintendent Bruce Harter replied, "It is incumbent
on the district that that never happens."
section of the mandate dealing with building closure was further
clouded earlier in the meeting on Apr. 19 when the board accepted a
recommendation from its renovations oversight committee that
modular classrooms at Lombardy Elementary be replaced by
permanent ones, probably in a new wing.
agreed unanimously with Edward Capodano, chairman of the
committee, who said "we (the district) need the space over
there" and continuing to use what he referred to as "relocatable
classrooms" in a building otherwise brought up to
state-of-the-art standards "makes absolutely no sense."
not coming here with anything new or that hasn't been
[previously] discussed," he said.
member Craig Gilbert said that voters at the referendum which
authorized borrowing money to finance the current second phase
of the district's proposed long-term modernization program
"overwhelmingly endorsed a commitment to do [with Lombardy] what
the renovations oversight committee and [district] staff has
done -- to study what should be done."
voters approved financing the $38 million renovation program in
2001, the state has moved in the direction of requiring public
school districts to provide full-day, rather than half-day,
kindergartens. That, Gilbert said, will require additional space
at Lombardy Elementary. "That wasn't on our radar screen" when
the renovation plan was adopted, he said.
said that adding a wing to Lombardy Elementary would require
"adding just 1¢ a year to the [capital spending] tax rate."
facilities committee also will not be allowed to produce a plan
that would have the effect of increasing the number of schools
defined under federal guidelines as being 'high poverty' in
nature. No plan that would make the percentage of students
eligible for free or reduced-price lunches in any school higher
than 60% would be acceptable and "reducing the high[est] to
below 50% would be desirable."
unanimously approving the taskforce mandate, board members and
district spokeswoman Wendy Lapham stressed that possible closure
of one or more school buildings was neither the purpose for
establishing the advisory panel nor intended to be its key
also will be a program committee which will be expected to come
up with recommendations on whether Brandywine should continue
its traditional small-schools approach, particularly at the
elementary level, and its present four-tier configuration of
grades. When the board conducted a straw vote on how to deal
with the state Neighborhood Schools Act, the vote favored by a
wide margin retaining the present set-up, originally imposed by
federal court to provide for children to attend desegregated
schools in the city of Wilmington for at least three years.
committee will study athletic facilities and playgrounds with an
eye toward recommending priorities for improving existing ones
and financing that work.
taskforce as a whole will be required to meet in public session
and, against a background of expected declines in enrollment and
a desire to "attract students who are not currently served" by
the district, to "make recommendations that are both
educationally sound and fiscally efficient" to the board
by Oct. 1.