would hit Brandywine hard
of 100 Brandywine School District teachers and other employees
would be laid off and plans to implement a full-day
kindergarten program for the coming academic year might be put
on hold if the 8% reduction in state financing that is being talked about
"We'll have to have a
very terrifically strong campaign to make sure that doesn't
happen," school board president Joseph Brumskill
said. At the board
meeting on Apr. 21, he called for
parents and other district residents to inundate their state
senators and representatives with pleas to exempt public
education from drastic cuts expected to be proposed by Governor
Ruth Ann Minner and the State Budget Office.
Delaforum first reported it would, the Delaware Economic &
Financial Advisory Council earlier in the day again lowered its
estimate of state revenue during the coming fiscal year. It is
now saying that state government will take in $3.31 billion
during the fiscal year which begins on July 1. That would be up
from $3.23 billion now expected for the current year, but well
below Minner's $3.41 billion request. The General Assembly is
limited by law from spending more than 98% of the council's
reduction in state revenue would 'cost' Brandywine just shy of
$6 million. Superintendent Jim Scanlon told the board that the
district also would have to spend an additional $1.2 million
beyond the $600,000 it anticipates spending to implement the
kindergarten program if the state backs off from helping to
finance expanded kindergarten programs statewide. That is one of
the options now being considered in Dover.
no way Brandywine can absorb a $6
million-to-$7.2 million gap in its budget without being forced
to take drastic measures, financial officer David Blowman
said. "If you [think] we can [cost-]cut our way out of this
without touching people, it's not going to work," he said.
noted that when voters failed to approve a tax increase at the
first of two referendums last spring and the district was faced
with the possibility of a $2 million budget shortfall, it sent
layoff notices to 42 employees. Those layoffs never came about
after voters approved a tax increase at the second referendum.
Brandywine now faces the prospect of having to notify a
significantly larger portion of its workforce of the possibility
they will be laid off. It is required to issue such notices by
May 15 to any employee for whom it does not expect to have a job
next year. The state advisory council probably will not meet
before then to update its forecast and is not scheduled to
produce the final estimate that will bind the Assembly before
also noted that during the last state budget crisis five years
ago, all school districts were asked to 'give back' a portion of
their state financing. Brandywine's share of the total public
school reversion was $592,000, about a tenth of what might be
expected this time around.
Reversions have since become a permanent part of the annual
budget-setting process. Districts are permitted to choose from
which categories of state financing they want to make them so
long as their quota is met.
emphasized that no kindergarten decision has yet been reached.
"We haven't given up on full-day k[indergarten], [but] I'm
becoming a little bit less optimistic if the state is not going
to put up its share."
said it does not appear likely that the nearly completed
renovation of P.S. du Pont Intermediate nor the planed
renovation of Springer Middle and building a new Lancashire
Elementary will be affected by the budget situation although
state officials are talking about delaying or stretching out
capital spending. The status of the planned replacement of
Brandywine Elementary is uncertain, he said.
said he and other superintendents from around the state met with
the State Budget Office, but gave no details about the outcome
of the session.
pointed out that public schools are not the only ones impacted
by the situation. Every state agency has been instructed to
identify where in their budgets they can make cuts totaling 8%,
Nevertheless, Brumskill said an intense lobbying campaign must
be undertaken "to get [across] to state legislators that
education cannot be touched."