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October, 2006

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SALARIES DISCLOSED: Brandywine School District is paying administrators as a group 4.6% more this year than it did last year, according to data provided to Delaforum in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Top-level officials received 4% pay increases while those on the second level and in the schools got 3%. The salaries are retroactive to July 1, but increases over the 2005-06 rate was not paid until September. According to David Blowman, chief financial officer, the timing difference was because "calculating the performance component ... was complicated by the timing of [former superintendent Bruce Harter's] departure." (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

Central Office Administrators

July 1, 2006     July 1, 2005      
Name Title Salary   Title Salary   Increase
             
Harter, B.       Superintendent $154,832    
* Scanlon, J. Superintendent $163,000          
             
Davis, T.       Asst. Superintendent $121,238    
             
Blowman, D. Chief Financial & $121,967   Chief Financial Officer $117,130   4.1%
Administrative Officer            
             
Cooper, E. Attorney $112,881   Attorney $109,471   3.1%
             
Bullock, D. Director, Human Resources $113,261   Director, Human Resources $108,680   4.2%
Bush, P. Director, Technology $118,734   Director, Technology $113,275   4.8%
Curtis, J. Director, Education Services $113,866   Director, Education Services $109,332   4.1%
Harris, E. Director, Special Education $121,676          
Hilkert, A. Director, Special Education $113,809   Director, Special Education $109,332   4.1%
Marshall, J.       Director, Facilities $110,000    
Meredith, B Director, Facilities $118,257          
             
Robinson, G. Special Assignment $113,374   Principal $110,022   3.0%
             
Alderson, T. Supervisor, Arts $101,444   Supervisor, Arts $97,405   4.1%
Conn, T.       Supervisor, Facilities $96,824    
Doherty, K. Supervisor, Employee Relations $102,098   Supervisor, Employee Relations $97,647   4.6%
Ezeigbo, A. Supervisor, Facilities $96,763          
Gleich, S. Supervisor, Curriculum $104,729   Supervisor, Curriculum $100,559   4.1%
Gouge, P. Supervisor, Food Services $102,014   Supervisor, Food Services $97,405   4.7%
Linscott, L. Supervisor, Title 1 $101,444   Supervisor, Title 1 $97,405   4.1%
Schmidt, J. Supervisor, Research $101,696   Supervisor, Research $97,647   4.1%
Smallwood, D. Supervisor, Computer Services $99,965          
Viar, W. Supervisor, Transport. $102,267   Supervisor, Transport. $97,647   4.7%
             
Melenson, M. Manager, Technology $91,880   Manager, Technology $88,920   3.3%
Murphy, S Manager, Technology $91,861   Manager, Technology $88,920   3.3%
Read, J. Manager $95,067   Manager $91,983   3.4%
             
Costill, G. Specialist A, Facilities $76,504   Specialist, Facilities $74,100   3.2%
Croney, J.       Specialist, Auditor $67,688    
Gatta, P. Specialist A , School Nutrition $76,534   Specialist, Food Service $74,100   3.3%
Miller, R. Specialist A, Facilities $76,504   Specialist, Facilitiies $74,100   3.2%
Minuti, A. Specialist B, Graphics $69,624   Specialist, Graphics $67,409   3.3%
Parrish, C. Specialist B, Comp Services $66,331   Specialist, Benefits $64,220   3.3%
Rispoli, J. Specialist A, Finance $76,472   Specialist, Finance $74,100   3.2%
Rosen, A. Specialist C, Human Resources $61,218   Specialist, Human Resources $59,280   3.3%
Schrass, C. Specialist B, Finance $66,276   Specialist, Business $64,220   3.2%
Staker, P. Specialist A, Technology $72,708   Specialist, Technology $70,395   3.3%
Steinberg, B.       Specialist, Technology $67,688    
Townsend, C. Specialist A, Transportation $76,504   Specialist, Transportation $74,100   3.2%
Ziegler, R. Specialist A, PIO $76,409   Specialist, PIO $74,100   3.1%
             
Subtotal $3,197,137   Subtotal $3,121,174   2.4%
             
* Prorated from Oct. 29, 2006            
             

School Administrators

July 1, 2006     July 1, 2005      
Name Title Salary   Title Salary   Increase
             
Barry, P. Principal $104,044   Principal $99,590   4.5%
Carter, R. Principal $106,334          
Gliniak, M. Principal $110,038   Principal $106,608   3.2%
Goodwin, K. Principal $106,200   Principal $103,060   3.0%
Grant, A. Principal $105,111   Principal $101,784   3.3%
Gregg, R. Principal $115,436   Principal $112,036   3.0%
Hohler, L. Principal $108,286   Principal $104,807   3.3%
Holodick, M. Principal $110,001   Principal $106,704   3.1%
Mendenhall, R. Principal $109,947   Principal $106,608   3.1%
Norman. C. Principal $103,746   Principal $100,340   3.4%
Pecorella, J. Principal $103,789   Principal $100,338   3.4%
Pinchin, B. Principal $107,862   Principal $104,293   3.4%
Pullig, M. Acting Principal $109,905   Assistant Principal $97,552   12.7%
Sharps, L. Principal $103,193   Principal $99,741   3.5%
Skrobot, J. Principal $103,617   Principal $100,338   3.3%
Starkey       Principal $106,086    
Vansuch, E. Principal $101,506   Principal $98,800   2.7%
Viar, K. Principal $103,587   Principal $98,800   4.8%
Wilkie V. Principal $102,752          
             
Biggs, J. Assistant Principal $99,558          
Byrem, J. Assistant Principal $99,245          
Guagent, K. Assistant Principal $95,329   Assistant Principal $92,311   3.3%
Harvey, H. Assistant Principal $100,691   Assistant Principal $97,552   3.2%
Hill, P. Assistant Principal $100,512   Assistant Principal $97,552   3.0%
Jarman, L. Assistant Principal $91,963   Assistant Principal $88,920   3.4%
Lambert, A. Assistant Principal $100,239   Assistant Principal $97,114   3.2%
Levitz, W. Assistant Principal $93,946   Assistant Principal $91,169   3.0%
Madaline, A. Assistant Principal $100,524   Assistant Principal $97,552   3.0%
Muller       Assistant Principal $96,455    
Murray, Y. Assistant Principal $91,580   Assistant Principal $88,920   3.0%
Potter, L. Assistant Principal $99,528   Assistant Principal $96,505   3.1%
Smith       Assistant Principal $97,552    
Snow, L. Assistant Principal $99,476   Assistant Principal $96,455   3.1%
Tanzer, H. Assistant Principal $100,512   Assistant Principal $97,552   3.0%
Thompson, G. Assistant Principal $96,133   Assistant Principal $92,925   3.5%
Woodson, T. Assistant Principal $100,224   Assistant Principal $97,260   3.0%
             
Subtotal $3,384,814   Subtotal $3,173,279   6.7%
             
Total $6,581,951   Total $6,294,453   4.6%

SOURCE: Brandywine School District

    

It rarely happens, but public testimony immediately before County Council voted may have tipped the balance and led to the unexpected defeat of the controversial boat- and R.V.-parking legislation.

Council on Oct. 24 voted nine-to-four against the measure after Bruce Lott, who lives in the southern area of the county, called attention to a previously little-noticed provision in the proposed ordinance that would have banned his keeping a tractor trailer on his property. James Edwards, of the Department of Land Use, confirmed that is presently legal with proper screening on lots larger than two acres. Council president Paul Clark offered an oral amendment to restore the exemption, but it failed to receive seconding to be brought to a vote. Ordinance sponsor George Smiley then held to a previous commitment and refused to table the measure.

Patty Powell said Lott had caused her to change her mind and vote against the ordinance and William Bell and Timothy Sheldon referred to his testimony while explaining their negative votes. John Cartier and Karen Venezky joined Clark and Smiley in voting 'yes'. As was expected, representatives of several civic organizations testified against the measure on grounds that it would compromise the residential character of neighborhoods. Some boat and recreational vehicle owners testified that temporarily suspended restrictions in the property-maintenance code deprived them of long-standing property rights. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

Saying "I've done as much as I can do," Smiley invited one of his colleagues to try to come up with more acceptable compromise legislation. Enforcement of that part of the code evidently remains suspended until that happens or Council votes to lift the suspension.

    

FINAL MEETING:

Karen Venezky (left) and Patty Powell participated on Oct. 24 in their final session as members of New Castle County Council. Neither is seeking re-election. Their successors are scheduled to be sworn in when Council next meets on Nov. 14. Venezky has served on Council since 1992 and most recently has been chair of its finance and administration committee. Powell was elected in 2002, the year she retired after a 40-year career as a county employee. Her most recent Council assignment was as chair of the land use committee. Both women were recognized by their colleagues with formal resolutions and received standing ovations when presented with copies of the documents.

    

STUDY AUTHORIZED: County Council authorized spending an additional $100,000 -- which brings the total to $300,000 -- on a consultant study on how to design a stormwater utility. Richard Przywara, general manager of the Department of Special Services, said a contract has been negotiated with A.M.E.C. p.l.c., an international projects management firm based in London, England, to produce recommendations on how to proceed. Councilman John Cartier said a utility -- likely to be primarily financed by a fee based on the amount of impervious surface on a property -- would be a less costly alternative to "ad hoc responses" to storm emergencies.

Council president Paul Clark objected to being presented with a proposal to authorize a contract that Council members have not seen, but voted with 11 of the 12 other Council members in favor of doing so after Przywara said the agreement will come to Council for final approval under its authority to review professional-services contracts not subject to competitive bidding. The money to pay for it, he added, will come mostly from a state Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control grant. Councilman Jea Street voted 'no' on the grounds that county government has more urgent spending priorities, such as additional police protection.

    

FORMAL COMMITMENT: The Brandywine school board greeted the district's new superintendent with a declaration that all students "shall be provided a high-quality comprehensive education that assures full, meaningful and invitational [sic] participation in the academic curriculum." After Joseph Brumskill vehemently objected to putting off a vote until its November meeting, the board  on Oct. 23 unanimously approved a resolution committing the district to "high expectations for all students and ... a set of learning goals and standards that are strong, clear, understood and put into practice."

James Scanlon, who was to assume the superintendency on Oct. 26, said he is supportive of the philosophy behind the resolution and will give high priority to implementing it. Brought before the board at the behest of parents of special-needs students -- several of whom spoke at the meeting -- the resolution also specifies "children of every race, with or without limited English proficiency ... from each socio-economic level [and] status and of all academic levels" as entitled to instruction in regular classroom settings "to the fullest extent possible" and to be provided with necessary support and services.

    

ROADBLOCK: State fire marshal Willard Preston is delaying approval of the Brookview redevelopment plan by insisting that the streets be wider than necessary, County Councilman Robert Weiner told the Claymont Design Review Advisory Committee. "He's stuck in the 1950s," Weiner said at a committee meeting on Oct. 19. "He thinks every road should be wide enough to double-park the biggest fire truck that can ever be invented." Weiner said the proposed plan "meets every federal standard" for a 'new urbanism' community, adding that he is pressing to overcome the marshal's technical objection. "We're not going to compromise our plan," Weiner said.

Councilman John Cartier pledged that 140 acres of riverfront property which Claymont Steel has put up for sale will not be developed for industrial use. Instead, he called for producing a master plan for mixed residential, commercial and recreational use of the shoreline. He said available technology can mitigate whatever contamination exists. "I don't think the people in Claymont want more industrialization," he said, adding that "New Castle County [government] controls land use." Cartier also expressed opposition to the idea of locating a plant to produce ethylene on the General Chemical site.

    

POLLUTION STUDIES ORDERED: The state Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control is going to require the Claymont Steel plant to reduce the amount of vaporized mercury and slag dust being released into the air. Natural resources deputy secretary David Small told the Claymont Community Coalition on Oct. 19 that the emissions are "not a public health emergency, but [are] an environmental concern." State toxicologist Gerald Llewellyn said mercury is a neurotoxin which is particularly dangerous to young children and pregnant woman. "It's not the worst chemical, but it's a sneaky one," he said.

Small said Claymont Steel -- formerly Citi Steel -- reported that it was releasing an estimated 40 lbs. of mercury a year as a result of melting old automobile bodies to make new steel. However, testing revealed the actual amount to be between 350 lbs. and 500 lbs. The company, he said, will be required to bring that into line with the estimate. It also will have to hire a recognized expert to come up with ways to reduce the amount of slag dust, which is not considered toxic. "It's time for a little more innovative things [to do that] than the company has brought to the table so far," Small said. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

    

The proposed ordinance setting rules for parking boats and recreational vehicles in residential areas appears almost certain to pass despite continued opposition from some civic groups.

County Councilwoman Patty Powell, at a meeting of the land use committee which she chairs, asked colleague George Smiley, its sponsor, to table the measure until after new members are seated following the Nov. 7 elections. She is not seeking re-election.  Chuck Landry, of the Council of Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred, repeated that group's request that action be postponed. Carol Heggan, of the Sherwood Park II Civic Association, said the proposed ordinance as it now stands is "excessively permissive" and called for a rewrite. Smiley's response: "It's going to rise or fall next week." It is on the agenda for Council's Oct. 24 session.

Council committees discuss and debate proposed legislation, but do not make recommendations. However, the tenor of discussion at the meeting on Oct. 17 indicated Smiley has more than the seven votes needed to enact the ordinance. Only Timothy Sheldon and William Tansey voiced opposition. Karen Venezky and Robert Weiner did not attend the meeting. Council president Paul Clark said the measure strikes a balance between restoring some property rights taken away by the property maintenance code enacted in 2005 and protecting neighborhoods against "ugly and big." (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article. CLICK HERE to access the proposed ordinance.)

Smiley referred to the boats-R.V.s controversy as "a warm-up for the [accessory dwelling units] legislation that will come up" for Council action next year.

    

County and city government offices apparently will remain in the Redding Building in downtown Wilmington well into the foreseeable future.

Richard Przywara, general manager of the county Department of Special Services, told a County Council committee on Oct. 17 that a final decision has not yet been made, but officials of both governments are leaning toward accepting a proposal from Ameresco, a company identified in a report he presented as "our energy partner," to replace the 30-year-old nine-story-building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning infrastructure at a cost of just under $3.5 million. That, he said, "makes more financial sense" than constructing a new building or leasing commercial office space at significantly higher cost.

A state law enacted during the electricity deregulation crisis permits local governments to 'pay for' such improvements out of resultant savings in energy costs rather than treat them as capital expenses. The financing arrangement as discussed as the committee meeting was vague, but it appeared that the governments would share the upfront cost in their operating budgets. The building is owned 55% by the city and 45% by the county and its operating costs are financed 70% by the city government -- which occupies most of the structure -- and 30% by the county, according to Nello Paoli, of the special services department.

Przywara disclosed that the two governments are carrying a combined total of about $10 million of debt on the building, which he said is worth about $16 million, as a result of various refinancings over the years.

    

ESTIMATE TOPPED: More dwelling units have been registered under the county's residential rental code than were thought to exist. Land use general manager Charles Baker told a County Council committee on Oct. 17 that, through the end of September, landlords had registered 35,368 units and that the total probably will come close to 36,000 before the process is completed. The original 'educated guess' was 35,000. All apartment complexes have been registered, he reported. So far, 13 landlords have been cited for code violations and two have been fined $150. The first of two inspectors who will focus on the rental code has been hired.

    

BOMB SCARE ARRESTS: State police reportedly arrested an 11th grader at Mount Pleasant High School and charged him with making a terroristic threat in connection with one of several bomb scares at the school. His identity was not disclosed. Police also arrested three girls at Hanby Middle School in connection with an incident there. Neither were their identities or grade levels disclosed. There were indications that other students at the schools aided authorities in identifying the alleged culprits, but it could not be determined whether they are in line to receive the $250 reward the Brandywine District said it would give. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

    

County police, paramedics, 9-1-1 communications center and the emergency management service are scheduled to begin moving into the new $48 million public safety building in March, 2007.

Richard Przywara, general manager of the Department of Special Services, under whose auspices the four-

story facility is being constructed behind the present police headquarters in Minquadale, said the project is on schedule and budget. Not only will the building be state-of-the-art but it also will be "unique in [regard to] all the things we'll have under one roof," said police Lt. Drew Outten. Even more significant  is the fact the building will be large enough to comfortably accommodate the 150 or so staff members on duty on any given day. A consultant study as far back as 1992 found the present police headquarters to be inadequate.

With a large part of public safety services now dependent on computers and sophisticated communications, the new building was designed around systems with built-in redundancy. At the same time, Przywara said, it incorporates several environmental and energy-efficient features. Rain water, for instance, will be collected for use in its plumbing system. During construction, 98% of waste material has been recycled instead of being sent to the landfill, he added. While fully functional, the building, designed by architect Christian Sereduke, is also esthetically impressive.

The new building will replace the long-obsolete present police headquarters (below) housed in a former elementary school building.

Richard Przywara (left photo) in one of the holding cells. Cables and other electronic infrastructure (right photo) will be contained in a subfloor beneath the  9-1-1communications center.

    

County government is evaluating proposals that would provide occupants for some of the buildings it owns but is not using while eliminating or significantly reducing the cost of maintaining them.

Richard Przywara, general manager of the Department of Special Services, told Delaforum that the Y.W.C.A. and a restaurant have submitted proposals to use the historic house in Bechtel Park, off Naamans Road. A school and an animal group are interested in the Heritage house in Glasgow Park and the Y.W.C.A. has put forth a plan to use the Woodstock building in Banning Park. The ideas, he said, will be judged based on the proposed uses -- "We want something we'll be comfortable with," he said. -- and what the prospective occupants are offering as their share of the long-term bargains.

Przywara said it is too soon to speculate about how much the county would save, but indicated that it would be significant. Occupants would be permitted to renovate the structures "without losing their historic integrity." Also in the offing, he said, is reconsidering setting up a resident creatorship program. That was proposed several years ago, but was sidetracked during the previous administration. Such programs elsewhere provide for tenants to live rent- and tax-free in government-owned houses in return for maintaining them. The idea originally was put forth with regard to farmhouses in Jester Park off Grubb Road and in Talley-Day Park off Foulk Road.

    

Bomb scares are not going to be allowed to disrupt the normal education-related routine at Mount Pleasant High School, according to principal Michael Pullig.

"Somebody out there wants to disrupt the orderly process; we're not going to let them," he told about 300 people -- mostly parents -- at a community meeting on Oct. 10. The meeting was called after threats were received on three consecutive school days and twice before that. Andy Brandenberger, the Brandywine School District's interim superintendent, said the equivalent of about 12 hours of instructional time has been lost as a result of the incidents but the school is still within the state mandate and that time will not have to be made up. On the other hand, "to disregard a threat would be irresponsible on our part," he added.

Barbara Meredith, director of support services, said the district has detailed crisis-management plans in place and they are being followed. But Brandenberger acknowledged that the threat on Oct. 5 caught the district short because it had not set out a procedure for dealing with one received as students were arriving at the start of a day. He apologized for confusion resulting for conflicting directions given the students, but denied that any Mount Pleasant staff member had told anyone that classes were being called off for the day. "Quite frankly, we were not prepared" for what happened that morning, he said. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

Three Concord High School ninth graders were arrested in connection with an incident at that school. State police detective Tom Wood said that police have leads in the Mount Pleasant cases. "I believe there are students in this building who know who the perpetrators are," he said.

    

Officers of area 'umbrella' civic associations called on County Councilman George Smiley to delay passage of legislation to regulate parking of boats and recreational vehicles in residential areas.

"We need more time to study [the proposed ordinance]. I think it is being pushed too fast," Daniel Bockover, of the Council of Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred, said at the monthly meeting with County Executive Christopher Coons. The other eight civic leaders expressed agreement by a show of hands and Coons said he would relay that message to Smiley without indicating how he felt. Smiley, who previously said he is anxious to get approval of the measure after nine months spent drafting it, said he has no intention to delay the legislative process, which he wants completed by passage of the measure on Oct. 24.

In a tangentially related matter at the meeting on Oct. 5, some of  the civic leaders expressed misgivings about possible legislation allowing ancillary dwelling units -- so-called 'mother-in-law suites' --  in or with existing residences. James Smith, assistant general manager of the Department of Land Use, said a registration system is being considered while drafting that measure as a way to control future rental of such units. Coons noted that existing development regulations would still control their size and number of occupants. Land use general manager Charles Baker said that he would not expect many homeowners to take on the cost to build units. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

A revised version of an earlier draft of the boat-R.V. ordinance drops a controversial requirement that there be three feet between a driveway where they can be parked and the side property line.

    

REWARD OFFERED: Responding to a rash of bomb threats telephoned to its schools so far this academic year, the Brandywine district is offering a $250 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for such calls. According to a press statement issued on Oct. 6, the district will seek restitution for the cost of investigating and prosecuting offenders. If the offender is a student, he or she also would be subject to disciplinary action including expulsion. The reward offer applies to any terroristic threat against buildings or individuals. There were bomb scares at Mount Pleasant and Concord Highs on Oct. 6.

    

SLUMP TAKES A TOLL: The decline in the real estate market activity already has wiped out the anticipated gain in county government revenue from this year's increase in the property tax rate. Two months into the fiscal year, reality transfer tax receipts are $4 million less than projected for the period, according to the latest finance department report. Between July 1 and Aug. 31 there were 1,116 property sales valued at less than $1 million compared to 1,349 in the same 2005 months. Average value of those transactions declined slightly to $294,941 from $295,861.

    

KEEPING PACE: Sufficient sewer capacity will be available as the former Brookview apartment complex is replaced during the next few years. Richard Przywara, general manager of the Department of Special Services, told a County Council committee on Oct. 3 that refitting the sanitary sewer line between Claymont and the treatment plant in northeast Wilmington will be finished by 2009. With capacity to be gained by the developer repairing the sewer network under the Brookview site, there should be no problem following its plan to construct 200 living units there in each of the next six years, Przywara said. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

    

PENALTIES WAIVED: Property owners serving on active duty in the armed forces will not have to pay interest or a penalty if they are late paying their county property tax. An ordinance recently enacted by County Council also provides tax abatement in the event of death, sudden serious illness, destruction of a home by fire or natural disaster, or having relied on erroneous information from a county employee. The measure also specifies several situations in which there can be no abatement including a claim that the check was lost in the mail. It does not cancel the tax itself nor apply to taxes the county collects for school districts.

    

American and French troops serving under NATO command in Afghanistan are continuing the alliance which made possible American independence 225 years ago.

That was the message Jean-David Levitte, France's ambassador to the United States, brought to attenders at

the commemoration of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route on Sept. 30. "Our soldiers are side-by-side to win the war on terror ... to defend those ideals which are under attack," he said. The weekend observance recalls the 620 miles march to Yorktown and the 1781 siege and battle which effectively won the Revolutionary War. The United States 'repaid' the debt with the D-Day invasions of Normandy in 1944, Levitte said. "History matters," he said. "We shall never forget."

Historian Robert Selig, who researched details of the march of Continental troops and the French expeditionary force through northern Delaware, said its passage was probably the most significant event in the history of Wilmington and vicinity.  In all, some 8,500 people and 3,500 animals passed through the city of 1.200 residents and the towns of Newport and Christina. They paid for food and other supplies in hard money

Major Wiley Blevens, of the Delaware National Guard, models the uniform of a Continental officer in the Delaware regiment for Kim Burdick, who chaired the observance. Ambassador Jean-David Levitte delivers a talk on the U.S.-French friendship which began with the march to Yorktown

while the Continentals, whose money was virtually worthless, had to buy on credit. Nevertheless, Joseph Tatnall, a Quaker, summed up the local response when he told Washington, "I cannot fight for thee, but I can feed thee." (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

    

READY TO GO DOWN:

All the residents of Brookview have left and the apartment complex built soon after the end of World War II is about to be demolished to make room for a mixed residential and commercial development. The Commonwealth-Setting joint venture reportedly is about to select a builder for the redevelopment project.

Last updated on October 27, 2006

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