delaforum

November 2007

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DECISION DELAYED: County Councilman John Cartier put off for at least two weeks what is likely to be a final decision to subdivide 17 acres of the Paladin Club condominium complex and build 38 townhouses. Some residents have fought the proposal for nearly three years since Edgewood Village l.l.c., a Pettinaro construction affiliate, had parts of a reputedly historic stone wall torn down. A resolution approving the townhouse plan had been scheduled for routine approval at Council's session on Nov. 27, but was tabled, Cartier said, to allow the project's engineer to testify before a vote at its Dec. 11 session. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delafourm article.)

In an unrelated development matter, Councilman Robert Weiner made public a month-old decision by the Department of Land Use to affirm its rejection of an exploratory plan to build a shopping center on 41 acres at the intersection of Concord Pike and Naamans Road. Woodlawn Trustees has a year to submit a revised plan for further review. In a previously unreleased report following a contentious public hearing on the proposal, the department said, in effect, that nothing presented at the hearing offset a long list of objections to the proposal. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

    

Brandywine School District continues to lower class sizes in the primary grades, but still had to obtain a waiver from the state law setting a limit on the number of pupils in each class.

The board acted unanimously, with only four of its seven members in attendance, after financial officer David Blowman said that "it is next to impossible to avoid the waiver in a large district." He said that only nine of the district's 145 kindergarten and first, second and third grades in four schools -- Forwood, Lombardy, Maple Lane and Mount Pleasant Elementary --  exceeded the cap. That was half the number which did so in 2006. Twenty-seven classes actually had more than 22 pupils, but came in under the limit because they had a special-education teacher or paraprofessional aide assigned to them.

The board also waived for two schools -- Maple Lane and Mount Pleasant Elementary -- the requirement that at least 98% of the teachers called for by a school's student enrollment be assigned there. To do so in all cases, Blowman said, would require that "we do away with librarians, counselors, art teachers and phys ed teachers." In other action at its meeting on Nov. 19, the board confirmed the hiring of Dorrell Green as principal of Harlan Intermediate, effective Jan. 2. He currently is principal of Bayard Elementary in the Christina District. Jeff Byrem, who formerly was acting principal, was named principal of Brandywine High.

The board formally voted, again unanimously, to establish full-day tax-supported kindergartens, effective in September, 2008. The action was required to obtain $1.2 million in state financing which the district will match with $600,000, as authorized at the tax referendum in June.

    

ASSESSMENT IMPACT: New Castle County government's decision to lower Verizon's property assessment and tax bill pending the outcome of a court case over the issue will cost the Brandywine School District $600,000 this year -- coincidentally equal to what it will spend to establish full-day kindergartens -- and $300,000 in subsequent years, according to district finance officer David Blowman. Local school taxes are levied separately, but are based on the same assessment as the county real-estate tax. The lower assessment, he said, is related to how the utility company calculates depreciation.

Blowman said at the board's meeting on Nov. 19 that Brandywine and the other public school districts in the county were not notified about the lowered assessment until after they had set their tax rates for this fiscal year. In Brandywine, $600,000 is equivalent to 2 in the tax rate. Michael Strine, county government's chief financial officer, said the situation was fully explained in a "very public" meeting of County Council's finance committee after the Board of Assessment Appeals made its decision. Blowman said county officials "are confident they will win" the court case appealing the assessment board's decision. 

    

Legislation to delay the yardwaste ban another year is waiting in the wings if the Minner administration doesn't come up with an acceptable plan to implement the ban in January.

"As far as I can tell, there is no plan" at this point, state representative Robert Valihura told the Claymont Community Coalition. He and other lawmakers want "a seamless transition ... so you don't have to find someone to take it [away] for you or you don't have to take it yourself," he said. Representative Bryon Short said he is satisfied that the first public disposal site, near St. Georges, has attracted little extraneous trash and does not emit odor, but he agreed with Valihura that do-it-yourself dumps are not an acceptable sole arrangement. Short said two sites in Brandywine Hundred are being considered for such facilities.

Valihura said that waste-hauling firms should continue to pick up yardwaste from their customers even though they will not be permitted to dispose of it at the Cherry Island Marsh landfill. Households may have to pay "a little more" for such service, but "I'm not going to let them make out like bandits," he said at the meeting on Nov. 15. "If they are going to be hauling 30% less [trash], they should charge you 30% less" for conventional service. Valihura said the General Assembly's sunset committee, of which he is co-chairman, will take up the issue at its next meeting.

    

DEMOLITION TO START: County Councilman John Cartier announced that demolition of the former Brookview Apartments complex will begin on Nov. 20 with public officials expected to be on hand to witness it. At a meeting of the Claymont Community Coalition on Nov. 15, he referred to the event as "a major milestone ... that's going to indicate to the people of Claymont that the project is moving forward." As previously reported by Delaforum, demolition of existing structures and construction of Renaissance Village in their place will be done in phases during the next several years. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

    

County Council met the Coons administration halfway on short-term strengthening of the police force while setting the stage for dealing with long-range needs during the coming budget process.

"If we don't tell them what we want, we're going to get what they want," Council president Paul Clark said after police chief Rick Gregory told Council's public safety committee that the deal worked out behind the scenes will address existing vacancies. One officer hired from another agency already is aboard and four more are expected to report by Dec. 10 for eight weeks of on-the-job training. A police academy class of 15 recruits will begin training on Jan. 28, about two months earlier than previously expected. Those moves, Clark said, will require adding $1.7 million, probably from the reserve fund, to this fiscal year's budget.

Council members at the meeting on Nov. 13 reacted generally favorably to the agreement, but Jea Street, co-chair of the committee, said that "we need and we all want more cops." David Tackett said, "We all know [the force] is severely understaffed." William Powers said the area he represents south of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal is being "short-changed" in the ratio of assigned officers to population. Committee chairman Bill Bell said the administration has agreed to report, soon after the turn of the year, on how large a force the county should have. "Our challenge will be to match dollars to move forward with that plan," he said. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

Gregory said an effort is underway "to create a volunteer policing program" in which residents would assist with some "non-police functions." He was not specific about what is envisioned.

    

RESERVES TO TAKE A HIT: Ordinances put before Council on Nov. 13 would dip into budget reserves to provide $433,019 to meet New Castle County's share of the statewide dog-control contract mandated by the state legislature and $275,000 to pay legal fees involved in appealing the $7.5 million judgment in the civil suit over the unopened hotel off Interstate 95 at the Basin Road interchange. If approved, as expected, the measures will further reduce the reserve fund, already projected to drop $6 million to $70.1 million by June 30, 2008. If not overturned, the $7.5 million also would come from reserves.

    

How long 'affordable' housing should be kept 'affordable' has emerged as a pivotal issue as debate over the proposed landmark legislation heats up even before it is introduced into County Council.

The provision in the revised draft ordinance which, in effect, penalizes original buyers who make an 'excess profit' reselling a housing unit "deprives [them] of a basic benefit of home ownership," Kevin Kelly, of Leon Weiner Associates, a firm which has specialized in providing low-income housing, told an informational meeting. Civic activist Fritz Griesinger said it also would have an adverse effect when owners of other houses in the community go to sell their properties. The provision to restrict sales outside of an adjusted 'affordable' range for 15 years is intended to forestall speculators from buying up the units.

Charles Baker, general manager of the Department of Land Use, said starting with a voluntary program is intended to gauge the extent to which developers will accept the concept of integrating dwellings available to 'working class' families into new communities of higher-priced units. It is justified, he said at the meeting on Nov. 8, because "we're not that unaffordable yet" when compared to housing costs in surrounding states. Council president Paul Clark called for 'affordable' housing advocates to "get together in a room and agree on what you want" to avoid confusion coming from their taking differing positions. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

Councilman Penrose Hollins, who will sponsor the measure, said it is intended in part to avoid a court challenge to the county's Unified Development Code, which he charged is discriminatory in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.

    

Brandywine School District has already invested $1.2 million toward replacing the Lancashire Elementary building and $1.8 million in the Springer Middle renovation project.

The district also is up against point-of-no-return deadlines. Springer contracts are to be put out to bid in January and Lancashire's go out in March. Once that happens, neither of the projects can be stopped, superintendent Jim Scanlon told the committee considering ways to reduce the district's excess capacity. He said the Springer building's physical condition is such that it cannot be used as a school after June, 2009, and Lancashire is good only until June, 2012. That information apparently prevents the panel from returning either or both buildings to its list of school-closure candidates.

As previously reported, Brandywood Elementary and Hanby Middle, where no renovation dollars have yet been committed, and Carrcroft, Darley Road and Maple Lane -- elementary schools renovated before 1999 -- are on the list. Chief financial officer David Blowman told attenders at the meeting on Nov. 8 that the district is talking with state officials about what it can and cannot do to change the new-construction and renovations plan approved at the 2005 capital referendum. However, "existing [authorized] money is linked to specific projects and the state is reluctant to take a position on the ramifications of [changes], he said. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

The facilities subcommittee appeared by consensus to accept the recommendation to change to a three-tier class alignment while grouping schools at each level into three 'feeder' patterns as first choice among realignment options.

    

When you're in a geographically-challenged state, it apparently makes sense to define, as the county's Unified Development Code does, a forest as any group of eight or more trees -- size unspecified.

    

ADMINISTRATORS' SALARIES: Brandywine School District has reduced its fiscal 2008 administrator payroll by about 5% through elimination of several positions. Data provided to Delaforum in response to a Freedom of Information Act request shows total annual salaries among central-office administrators are about 2% lower than a year ago. The total for principals and assistant principals is about 8% less. The year-ago data, however, was revised to include several positions not listed in response to Delaforum's 2006 request. All data is exclusive of the value of employee benefits. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

Brandywine School District Salaries

 

           

 

 

July 1, 2007     July 1, 2006 *    

 

Name

Title Salary   Title Salary  

Increase

 

           

 

Central Office Administrators

 

           

 

Scanlon, J.

Superintendent $167,075   Superintendent $163,000  

2.5%

 

           

 

Blowman, D.

Chief Financial & Administrative $132,193   Chief Financial Officer $121,967  

8.4%

 

     Officer          

 

 

           

 

Cooper, E.

Attorney $116,744   Attorney $112,881  

3.4%

 

           

 

Bullock, D.

Director, Human Resources $117,234   Director, Human Resources $113,261  

3.5%

Bush, P.

Director, Technology $122,798   Director, Technology $118,734  

3.4%

Curtis, J.

Director, Elementary Education $117,607   Director, Education Services $113,866  

3.3%

 

     & Administrative Services          

 

Harris, E.

Director, Curriculum & $125,674   Director, Secondary Education $121,676  

3.3%

 

     Instruction          

 

Hilkert, A.

Director, Pupil Services $117,573   Director, Special Education $113,809  

3.3%

Meredith, B

Director, Support Services $122,304   Director, Support Services $118,257  

3.4%

 

           

 

Alderson, T.

Supervisor, Arts & Choice $104,708   Supervisor, Arts $101,444  

3.2%

Doherty, K.

Supervisor, Employee Relations $105,592   Supervisor, Employee Relations $102,098  

3.4%

Ezeigbo, A.

      Supervisor, Facilities $96,763  

-100.0%

Gleich, S.

Supervisor, Curriculum $108,099   Supervisor, Curriculum $104,729  

3.2%

Gouge, P.

Supervisor, Food Services $105,505   Supervisor, Food Services $102,014  

3.4%

Linscott, L.

Supervisor, Title 1 $104,708   Supervisor, Title 1 $101,444  

3.2%

Schmidt, J.

Supervisor, Research $104,968   Supervisor, Research $101,696  

3.2%

Smallwood, D.

Supervisor, Benefits & $103,386   Supervisor, Benefits & $99,965  

3.4%

 

     Compensation          Compensation    

 

Viar, W.

Supervisor, Transportation $105,295   Supervisor, Transportation $102,267  

3.0%

 

           

 

Melenson, M.

Manager, Technology $94,883   Manager, Technology $91,880  

3.3%

Murphy, S

      Manager, Technology $91,861  

-100.0%

Read, J.

Manager, Renovations $97,997   Manager, Renovations $95,067  

3.1%

 

           

 

Conlon, J.

Specialist B, Construction $67,855   ** Specialist B, Construction $65,805  

3.1%

Costill, G.

Specialist A, Facilities $78,946   Specialist A, Facilities $76,504  

3.2%

Croney, J.

      ** Auditor $77,390  

-100.0%

Fraley, T.

Specialist A, Safety & Security $70,539   ** Specialist A, Safety & Security $68,357  

3.2%

Funk, S.

Specialist C, Technology $60,177   ** Specialist C, Technology $58,186  

3.4%

Gatta, P.

Specialist A , School Nutrition $79,153   Specialist A , School Nutrition $76,534  

3.4%

Gonce, J.

Specialist C, Technology $60,169   ** Specialist C, Technology $58,178  

3.4%

Lobby, G.

Specialist A, Energy $70,381   ** Specialist A, Energy $68,357  

3.0%

Miller, R.

Specialist A, Facilities $78,946   Specialist A, Facilities $76,504  

3.2%

Minuti, A.

Specialist B, Graphics $71,686   Specialist B, Graphics $69,624  

3.0%

Nordsiek, P.

Specialist B, Technology $65,513   ** Specialist B, Technology $63,345  

3.4%

Parrish, C.

Specialist B, Benefits & $68,601   Specialist B, Compensation $66,331  

3.4%

 

     Compensation          Services    

 

Rispoli, J.

Specialist A, Finance $78,972   Specialist A, Finance $76,472  

3.3%

Rosen, A.

Specialist C, Human Resources $63,219   Specialist C, Human Resources $61,218  

3.3%

Schrass, C.

Specialist B, Finance $68,442   Specialist B, Finance $66,276  

3.3%

Siciliano, R.

Specialist B, Technology $67,471   ** Specialist C, Technology $58,186  

16.0%

Staker, P.

Specialist A, Technology $75,196   Specialist A, Technology $72,708  

3.4%

Steinberg, B.

      ** Specialist A, Technology $74,100  

-100.0%

Townsend, C.

Specialist A, Transportation $78,769   Specialist A, Transportation $76,504  

3.0%

Wells, E.

Specialist C, Technology $59,700   ** Specialist C, Technology $57,724  

3.4%

Wells, K.

Specialist C, Technology $62,842        

100.0%

Wise, C.

Specialist B, Technology $61,661   ** Specialist B, Technology $59,687  

3.3%

Ziegler, R.

      Specialist A, Public Information $76,409  

-100.0%

 

           

 

Subtotal

  $3,562,581     $3,630,078  

-1.9%

 

           

 

School Administrators

 

           

 

Barry, P.

Principal $107,259   Principal $104,044  

3.1%

Byrem, J.

Acting Principal $114,683   Assistant Principal $101,139  

13.4%

Carter, R.

Principal $109,619   Principal $106,334  

3.1%

Gliniak, M.

Principal $113,917   Principal $110,038  

3.5%

Goodwin, K.

      Principal $106,200  

-100.0%

Grant, A.

Principal $108,816   Principal $105,111  

3.5%

Gregg, R.

      Principal $115,436  

-100.0%

Hohler, L.

Principal $111,631   Principal $108,286  

3.1%

Holodick, M.

Principal $113,879   Principal $110,001  

3.5%

Mendenhall, R.

Principal $113,344   Principal $109,947  

3.1%

Norman. C.

Principal $107,403   Principal $103,746  

3.5%

Pecorella, J.

Principal $108,272   Principal $103,789  

4.3%

Pinchin, B.

Principal $111,194   Principal $107,862  

3.1%

Pullig, M.

Principal $113,300   Acting Principal $109,905  

3.1%

Sharps, L.

Principal $106,698   Principal $103,193  

3.4%

Skrobot, J.

Principal $108,094   Principal $103,617  

4.3%

Thorpe, A.

Acting Principal $111,856        

100.0%

Vansuch, E.

Principal $110,800   Principal $107,187  

3.4%

Viar, K.

Principal $107,106   Principal $103,587  

3.4%

Wilkie V.

Principal $106,374   Principal $102,752  

3.5%

 

           

 

Biggs, J.

Assistant Principal $103,067   Assistant Principal $99,558  

3.5%

Gladfelter, N.

Assistant Principal $95,497        

100.0%

Greenlea, C

Assistant Principal $101,726        

100.0%

Guagent, K.

Assistant Principal $98,274   Assistant Principal $95,329  

3.1%

Harvey, H.

Assistant Principal $104,240   Assistant Principal $100,691  

3.5%

Hill, P.

      Assistant Principal $100,512  

-100.0%

Jarman, L.

Assistant Principal $95,087   Assistant Principal $91,963  

3.4%

Lambert, A.

Assistant Principal $103,772   Assistant Principal $100,239  

3.5%

Levitz, W.

      Assistant Principal $93,946  

-100.0%

Madaline, A.

      Assistant Principal $100,524  

-100.0%

Murray, Y.

Assistant Principal $94,409   Assistant Principal $91,580  

3.1%

Potter, L.

Assistant Principal $102,603   Assistant Principal $99,528  

3.1%

Robinson, G.

Assistant Principal $113,374   Special assignment $113,374  

0.0%

Simmons, J.

Assistant Principal $102,311        

100.0%

Snow, L.

Assistant Principal $102,549   Assistant Principal $99,476  

3.1%

Tanzer, H.

Assistant Principal $103,617   Assistant Principal $100,512  

3.1%

Thompson, G.

      Assistant Principal $96,133  

-100.0%

Woodson, T.

Assistant Principal $103,320   Assistant Principal $100,224  

3.1%

 

           

 

Subtotal

  $3,408,091     $3,702,268  

-7.9%

 

           

 

Total

  $6,970,672     $7,332,346  

-4.9%

 

           

 

* Revised from data provided last year

         

 

** Not listed in data provided last year

         

 

Prorated from Oct. 29, 2006

         

 

Resigned after July 1, 2007

         

 

Appointed after July 1, 2007

         

 

    

DIVERSIFICATION SOUGHT: Delmarva Power president Gary Stockbridge warned against the proverbial danger of keeping 'all your eggs in one basket' while attempting to recruit public support for the utility company being allowed to use regional bidding to line up several suppliers of power from renewable energy sources. Doing otherwise, he told a meeting of the 7 & 40 Alliance, would "unfairly burden a specific group of our customers" -- about a third -- with having to pay higher estimated costs over the next several years. The dispute, he said, "is not whether to do renewable energy ... but how much you want to pay for it."

Jim Lanard, planning director for Blue Water Wind, which wants to erect a windmill 'farm' about a dozen miles into the Atlantic off the Sussex County coast, said his company would be able to guarantee future price stability because the wind it would use to generate electricity "will always be free." At the civic meeting on Nov. 5 Rob Propes, project manager, defended the generation technology as proven to be reliable in several locations serving Denmark and other European nations. Lanard said an offshore location is necessary because there are few, if any, suitable locations for an on-land facility in middle-Atlantic states.

    

The county Department of Land Use is preparing a revised version of 'affordable housing' legislation which it expects to come to a vote by County Council as soon as January.

General manager Charles Baker declined to provide any details of the changes at a meeting of officers of area civic associations, saying that he wanted to present the new draft to Council members before publicly 'releasing' its contents. The second of two general meetings to receive public comment on the original version of the proposed ordinance was postponed for a week on extremely short notice. In an e-mail sent to some prospective attenders four hours before the Nov. 1 meeting was scheduled to begin, Baker said it had not been properly advertised in the Oct. 27 edition of the News Journal newspaper.

County Executive Christopher Coons told the civic leaders at their meeting, also on Nov. 1, that the proposed legislation "has nothing to do with rental housing or subsidized housing." Rather, he said, its intent is to serve families with annual incomes between $40,000 and $85,000. Baker said a key point is whether such housing should be "affordable only at [original] purchase or kept affordable for a long time [afterwards]." Discussion indicated opposition from the civic community. It was said there is ample existing housing in the middle-price range available to the resale market. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

Last updated on November 28, 2007

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