approved, probably at the board's February meeting, copies of
documents would cost 25¢ a page plus the cash equivalent of the
time it takes a staff member to prepare the material.
addition to receiving the proposed policy changes, the board, at
a meeting on Jan. 28, also
the design for Forwood Elementary School, which will be totally
renovated during the 2004-05 academic year;
the final version of a policy governing use of school facilities
and equipment by outside organizations; and
update which showed progress toward fulfilling the district's
long-term strategic plan.
of acting, as had been expected, upon the simple revision of the
freedom-of-information policy published in the meeting agenda, which would have set a
15¢-a-page fee, the board was presented a more extensive rewrite
by staff lawyer Ellen Cooper and agreed to hold off a final
determination for a month.
proposed revision, Cooper said, is not intended to restrict
access to information that is in the public domain. "We want to
be responsive to the public, as long as it does not take away
staff time from our primary mission, which is education," she
recently was designated to be the district's Freedom of
Information Act officer, replacing Wendy Lapham, the public
information officer, who formerly had that duty.
pointed out that state law said public agencies "shall" impose
"a reasonable charge" to recover costs of complying with
freedom-of-information requests. "Twenty-five cents per page is
well within what already has been determined to be a reasonable
fee," she said.
neighboring district, which she did not identify, charges 50¢
and the state Supreme Court's going rate is $1, she said.
Delaware Department of Education, on the other hand, does not
charge "unless they have a voluminous request," she said. Until
now, Brandywine has not charged unless the material was
delivered on electronic disc or tape, in which case $1 was
charged. The proposed revised policy would retain that fee.
member Thomas Lapinski asked how many freedom-of-information
requests were received in 2003 and how many pages of material
were involved. Cooper said she did not have that information,
but would be able to ascertain at least the number of requests.
from the public spoke to the issue at the sparsely-attended
member David Adkins questioned whether 25¢ would be "enough to
cover the time it takes for [a staff member] to find the
document, walk to the machine, make copies and walk back."
detailed accounting along those lines is required by sections of
the proposed revised policy dealing with documents and records
containing confidential information as well as data deemed in
the public domain. Cooper said an example would be salary
records which contain, in addition to the salary, which is
public information, the person's Social Security number, which is considered
cases, a staff member would have to review such a document
before it is released. A copy upon which the confidential
material can be blacked out would have to be made and a second copy made so that it is
rendered totally unreadable.
formula for determining the fee for doing that is to multiply
the time it takes by the employee's hourly wage rate or the
hourly equivalent of his or her salary.
facilities-use policy, which has evolved over a long time,
establishes a uniform arrangement by which outside groups can
make use of school rooms, auditoriums and gymnasiums for such
things as meetings, sports and other activities. It also
establishes rental fees for their use and enables the school
board to designate, upon request, governmental and nonprofit
organizations as qualified to use the facilities without charge.
features of the Forwood school design include separate driveways
areas for busses and private vehicles, a kindergarten wing with
its own outdoor play area, and a sloped roof to accommodate
heating, air conditioning and other mechanical elements. The
new traffic pattern was described by architect Perry Willis as
also being a boon to the crowds that turn out on Saturdays when
the property in North Graylyn Crest "becomes a soccer mecca."
said that, for security purposes, there will be additional
and that the area underneath an
elevated building wing will be fenced. A new sprinkler system
will be installed and the building, which was constructed in
1962, brought into compliance with all current building codes.
strategic plan update showed that the district is well ahead of
its goal of providing full-day kindergarten to children deemed
to be 'at risk'. The 2003 goal was to have been 38% of such
children, but the proportion actually enrolled is 58%.
one of the 70 teachers newly hired for this academic year is
teaching in the subject area in which she or he majored in
college. There are now 28 nationally certified teachers employed
by the district and four others have left after achieving
Brandywine's starting salary for new teachers with a bachelor's
degree is $33,357, which is higher than the five other public
school districts in New Castle County, but ranks 28th among 36
districts surveyed. The other districts are in neighboring areas
of Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey. At the high end of the
scale -- a teacher with a master's degree and 15 years of
experience -- Brandywine stood 22nd, outranked in New Castle
County by only the Colonial district, which was 21st.