co-chair Jeff Bullock stressed that the ideas contained in
reports from three committees, which until now worked
independently of each other, are very preliminary. At this
stage, everything is "a very, very open question" and there are
"some things that need close scrutiny" before the taskforce is
ready to take a preliminary set of recommendations to public
hearings prior to coming up with final recommendations to
present to the school board.
told a taskforce meeting on July 8, the committee
recommendations comprise "a very good raw report from which can
work ... to fit together our overall plan."
Brandywood and Lancashire would be a less costly alternative to
remodeling both buildings, Ed Capodanno, chair of the committee
which evaluated the previously reported staff proposal for the
third and final phase of the district's renovations program. The
schools, which are relatively close to each other, were built in
the late 1960s and feature the now educationally obsolete
concept of clustering classrooms around central areas to be used
for joint instruction.
committee recommended that feasibility of either constructing
one new elementary-level building to serve northwestern
Brandywine Hundred or replacing both buildings with new ones
instead of renovating them at an estimated combined cost of
$23.2 million be further studied. Its actual recommendation was
to approve virtually the entire renovations plan previously
presented by capital projects manager John Read, which calls for
the companion committee which looked into what buildings might
be closed to pare the gap between facilities capacity and
projected enrollment recommended that Brandywood Elementary be
closed if the present four-tier grade configuration is retained.
That would reduce projected excess capacity in the 2009-10
academic year to about 1,800 students; not closing Brandywood
would result in excess capacity of about 2,400.
alternative scenario would close both Hanby and Springer Middle
Schools in a realignment to a three-tier grade configuration.
Claymont, Harlan and P.S. du Pont Intermediate would join Talley
as middle schools serving fifth through eighth grade.
Kindergarten through fourth grade would be housed in the
existing primary schools. If that scenario were followed 2009-10
overcapacity would be about 850.
superintendent Tammy Davis, who chaired that committee, said
going to a three-tier configuration would be "developmentally
appropriate" and would address the enrollment loss the district
experiences when children move from third to fourth grade and
have to change schools.
Blowman, the district's chief financial officer, said a
still-incomplete analysis indicates that closing an elementary
school would result in a potential annual savings of between
$250,000 and $350,000 of local money in the district's operating
budget. Closing a middle or high school would save between
$450,000 and $550,000.
concept of developing an athletic complex at Claymont was put
forth as an additional element to a recommendation that up to 45
athletic-related projects spread though the district be included
in the referendum plan. The committee ranked them by priority
and placed a pricetag of just over $1 million on them. Committee
member Bill King, who presented that report, acknowledged,
however, that that estimate, taken from a year-old consultant
study, is probably considerably lower than what the actual cost
would be if all the projects were undertaken.
going into detail or providing a cost estimate, the committee
described its idea of what would result at Claymont as a
"comprehensive" group of facilities. Possibly financing it by a
separate bond issue, the district might "look at other partners
that might assist in this effort," the committee report said.
The complex might be administered as a county park or under an
arrangement similar to the one by which the Wilmington Parks &
Recreation Department uses the fields around P.S. du Pont.
committee also recommended what King referred to as "building a
strong athletic program from the ground up." That would include
intramural sports from elementary grades through high school. He
dismissed the notion that the number and variety of youth sports
clubs in the area satisfy the need.
committee also called for further study of whether to add lights
at its sports facilities, especially the high school stadiums.
Taskforce member Rick Geisenberger noted, however, that the
just-enacted state capital spending budget provides money for
another school district to remove lights from its high school
recommending that the district begin planning now for what it
will do regarding student transportation when the current lease
on the site where it stores and maintains buses in northeast
Wilmington runs out in 2011, Capodanno's committee concluded
that one possibility would be for the district to phase itself
out of the transportation business over a period of five years.
Brandywine is the only district in the state which does not
provide at least some of its student-transportation requirements
by employing outside contractors.
that route "may cause a little controversy," Capodanno told the
meeting. "We're not saying do it; we're saying to look at it."
deal with transportation facilities was the only area in which
the committee disagreed with Read's plan. His recommended that
the transportation and facilities maintenance departments be
combined at a new location. The committee said that the
facilities department should stay where it is -- on the Claymont
campus -- and that the district's headquarters, now in a former
elementary school building in Radnor Green, could be combined
with the transportation department.
committee recommended that the administrative offices be
relocated to an active school building. Based on capacity and
enrollment figures the committee presented, Concord High would
appear to be the preferred location.
president Nancy Doorey questioned whether it would be
"educationally sound" to reduce the size of the Concord student
body to about half of what it is now because that would make it
difficult to justify having advanced-placement and other
offerings which attract proportionately few students there.
not clear why Concord's projected enrollment under the
three-tier alignment would drop to about 675 students but only
to about 1,075 if the present four-tier alignment were kept
since both scenarios would have the district's three high
schools serving ninth through 12th grade.
Capodanno's committee agreed with Read that the Bush Early
Childhood Center should be replaced with a new building and
listed that project for fiscal 2009. Committee member Lori Walls
said she was amazed by the quality of the program presented at
Bush considering the facilities in which the staff has to work.
"They make do. ... The library is literally in a closet," she
Pont was given top priority on the committee's recommended
schedule with that work listed for fiscal 2008. Capodanno said
that was because it's $44 million cost is almost twice that of
the next most expensive project and inflation would add about
$1.3 million to that each year the P.S. project is put off.
Renovation of Springer would take place in fiscal 2009. It would
be followed by Hanby and Brandywood in 2010 and Lancashire and
whatever is decided to do about the district headquarters in