Financial officer David Blowman said the spending plan was based
on several "conservative assumptions" and if revisions are
necessary when he presents a final version in December they
probably will be downward.
of the increase is one-time and is directly related to the
referendum," he told the board on Jul. 18. That referred to money budgeted to pay for
improvements to athletic fields at several school, increased
spending for maintenance, a safety and emergency notification
system and increases in the cost of energy. Temporary increases
in the operating tax rate ceiling to pay for those things was
approved overwhelmingly by voters at a referendum in May.
Delaforum previously reported, the school board already has
approved a 12¢ increase in the rate at which property tax
due by Sept. 30 will be calculated. The total rate is $1.4365
for each $100 of assessed property value. Brandywine does not
give residential property owners the state-financed tax
reduction as most other districts in the state do. Seniors do
get a reduction, also state-financed, paying half of the first
$1,000 of their tax.
Blowman told the board that actual
spending in fiscal 2005 came within a whisker of hitting the
target. The district ended the year just nine-one hundredths of
one percent over budget. Transportation costs were 13.8% over
budget, largely because of increased fuel costs. That was offset
by several spending categories coming in at less than budgeted,
but he said some of that was deferred spending.
In a separate matter at the meeting,
the board approved a 4% increase in the base upon which
administrators' salaries are calculated to $98,800.
Superintendent Bruce Harter said that move was necessary to make
Brandywine more competitive with other northern Delaware
districts in recruiting and keeping administrators. "We're
competitive with teachers, but not administrators," he said.
Blowman said that the increase "will
in no way put us at the top of the tree" in that regard. But
Harter added, "Looking at our budget and what we can do,
this is the best that we can do at this time."
Board member Mark Huxsoll said the
increase strikes "a balance between using tax dollars and
holding on to the people we need to do the job."
Annual salaries of Brandywine
administrators are set between 90% and $115% of the base
plus a 2% performance component of which 60% is tied to a
measure of student performance districtwide. The base is the
salary of a principal of a primary school with other positions
scaled upward or downward from that depending on their level of
Added to the salary schedule were a
category of manager, at the level of an assistant principal, and
three grades of "mid-level professionals'. Blowman said that was
necessary to staff an expanded technology department to provide
in-house data processing previously provided by the center.
Those positions did not dovetail with the existing salary
The amount earmarked in the
preliminary budget to be spent
implementing elements of the district's long-range strategic
plan is increased by $510,000. Of that, $500,000 will be
used for "early aggressive recruitment of high-quality teachers
and staff." That could be offset to the extent that the number
of state-authorized positions are sufficient to eliminate the
necessity to hire into positions financed entirely by local
The other $10,000 in plan-related
money will go initiating an International Baccalaureate program
and increasing the number of students taking courses which
qualify them for advance placement in college.
The spending plan contains no
significant initiatives beyond those presented at the
To balance the budget, the district
will dip into its accumulated cash balance by $1.5
million, leaving an estimated $3.1 million on hand next June 30.
previously has said the district will be in a tight financial
position for this and the 2007 fiscal years. At the last full
tax referendum the board committed to not returning to the
taxpayers until the spring of 2007. If that holds, it means the
district cannot raise the base rate before fiscal 2008.
Property taxes account for nearly 90%
of discretionary local revenue, which, in turn, accounts
for 39% of Brandywne's income. The state provides 53% of total
revenue and federal financing amounts to 8%.
The preliminary budget is based on an
expected enrollment for the coming academic year of 10,683
students, down slightly from 10,723 in 2004-05. The count, on
which the number of state-authorized teacher and staff
positions is based, is taken as of Sept. 30.
Savings as a result of Brandywine
withdrawal, effective Dec. 31, from Data Service Center
consortium will be offset by the cost of
bringing data processing in-house. But Blowman said savings in future years
will be significant.
Mandated increases in the pension
rate for state employees is cited as a matter of concern as is
the continuing requirement that districts return a portion of
their state financing while the level of that financing is not
Although the General Assembly did not
increase the cost-per-square foot formula for school
construction for which the district had hoped, Blowman said the
district will receive just under $1.2 million of additional
state money toward expansion of Lombardy Elementary and
replacement of Brandywood and Lancashire Elementary under a law
enacted by the Assembly to assist districts deal with rising