Not quite three months on the job, the
Brandywine school superintendent has come up with a set of self-imposed
goals to achieve before the academic year runs out in June. As a
condition of his employment contract he agreed to set specific
benchmarks, subject to approval by the school board, against which his
performance will be measured.
Although the board decided that
discussion and acceptance of the goals was a 'personnel matter' shielded
by exemptions from the state's open-meetings law and formally approved
them during a recent public session by voting unanimously to adopt a
resolution which referred only to what had been "discussed in executive
session," board vice president Nancy Doorey provided an initial
tantalizing glimpse into what they involved. Scanlon has since
distributed them among the district staff and agreed, at Delaforum's
request, to make them public.
They are tied directly to implementation
of the five-year strategic plan the board is expected to approve in
As Doorey revealed, Scanlon has targeted
a 5% increase in the number of students who score as 'proficient' or
'advanced' in reading and mathematics on the state standards assessment
tests in the spring and that black and 'special needs' students show a
10% improvement in meeting the state standards. The strategic plan will
call for overall improvement in academic performance and narrowing the
so-called 'achievement gap'.
In addition, he also agreed to be
considered successful in increasing student achievement if P.S. du Pont
Intermediate, Talley Middle and Brandywine High Schools are removed from
'corrective action' status under provisions of the federal No Child Left
Scanlon said he will improve the
district's cost-efficiency by reducing organizational structure costs by
at least $100,000 and complete the fiscal year with a budget
carry-forward of $2 million. As previously reported, chief financial
officer David Blowman told the board at its most recent meeting that a
combination of increased revenue and expenditure reductions totaling
$700,000 through December has put the district on course to reach that
The superintendent's goals also include
include internal measures to enhance professional development.
The proverbial bottom line in the list is
to "educate the community [about] school success stories [and] ... the
cost and benefits of a quality school system" in order to achieve a
favorable vote at the operating-tax referendum to be held in the spring.
The board has yet to set the amount of the tax increase it will seek,
but Scanlon goals call for it "to provide appropriate funds" to
implement the strategic plan.
than an hour of preliminary discussion about the plan at its meeting
on Jan. 22, board members indicated they would like to see additional
points and more specificity in the goals and strategies enumerated in
Doorey, for instance, called for backing
up a claim that the intent is to make Brandywine a premier school
district by comparing present performance against that of districts in
the region generally recognized as 'leading'.
She said a significant comparative
measure would be the percentage of ninth-grade students who remain in
school and qualify for high school graduation.
She also said the district should explore
establishment of an educational foundation, a step which other public
school districts have taken to augment tax income, and expanding the
International Baccalaureate program to provide a full
kindergarten-through-sixth-grade program at a site in Wilmington.
In response to board member Mark Huxsoll's
call for greater emphasis on fine-arts education as part of the core
curriculum "rather than an add-on," Scanlon said he favors "creative
ways to restructure the school day" to provide time for more electives
and to "reallocate existing dollars" to provide for more before- and
Board president Craig Gilbert said those
programs should be structured to serve more than just 'at-risk'
students. "There are more students out there who would benefit from
extra time," he said.
information about this topic
Read previous Delaforum article:
Brandywine expects to prevent significant spending cuts
Read previous Delaforum article:
some thoughts and impressions