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July 2008

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Irony was pervasive as about 75 people turned out to voice strong objections to plans to build a combined retail and residential center at Concord Pike and Beaver Valley Road.

Several parallels were drawn to the extended controversy over development of Brandywine Town Center more than a decade ago. As it happens, County Councilman Robert Weiner, who hosted the meeting on July 30, is about to introduce legislation ending that controversy by liberalizing deed restrictions. After saying that he opposes rezoning the Woodlawn Trustees property, Weiner pointedly remarked that Whole Foods, originally billed as lead tenant, has been dropped from the current proposal. A major argument in favor of the Town Center was a to-be-unkept promise that it would feature up-scale department stores.

Pam Scott, lawyer for the would-be developer, Stoltz Realty Properties, said the current third version of the exploratory plan is significantly different from the earlier ones. The number of proposed residential units has been increased from 36 to 87. It is proposed that there be 237,000 square feet of retail space and a 120-room hotel. She said it is expected to take between 18 months and two years to obtain necessary approvals but neither she nor Stoltz officials would respond to a question about how long it would take to complete, saying that will depend upon future market conditions. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

Venue for the acoustically-challenged and sometimes raucous meeting: The community building in Brandywine Town Center.

    

UNCOVERED TREASURE:

The nearly completed makeover of the Pierre S. du Pont school building in north Wilmington was intended to be a renovation. But, in some respects, restoration received equal billing. Brandywine School District officials were delighted to find, for instance, the original terrazzo floor in mint condition when workers removed tile from the entranceway and lobby. No one knows how long it was hidden from sight, but it -- and other features from the past in the 1934 building  --  will remain visible. P.S. will reopen in late August as an intermediate school. It is scheduled to be converted to a middle school before the start of the 2009-10 academic year. (CLICK HERE to access additional photographs.)(CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

    

MINOR RENOVATIONS:

A new Claymont train station is still years away, but Delaware Transit Corp. has been slowly making minor improvements to the commuter depot during the past several weeks. According to spokesman Michael Williams, the $150,000 job includes replacing the roofs over both of the access tunnel's stairwells, and replacing the waiting shelter on the northbound platform and the security-guard shelter on the southbound side.

    

UP FOR SALE: The historic Worth mansion on Philadelphia Pike south of Commonwealth Avenue is available for $1.75 million or for lease, according to real estate agent Daniel Lesher. Also, he told a recent meeting of the Claymont Design Review Advisory Committee that all or part  the building which formerly housed Holy Rosary parochial school is open to lease. The mansion, which sits on a six acre tract, was once

The Worth mansion

the home of the Worth family, which founded what is now Claymont Steel. Before then it was owned by the Grubbs, a pioneering Brandywine Hundred family. Holy Rosary used it for a convent and a retreat facility.

"I look on that building with great concern," County Councilman John Cartier said. "Those kinds of buildings will never come back again." Lesher said Holy Rosary officials would not agree to having it protected by an historic overlay, but want it put to adaptive reuse and preserved. Carolyn Mercandante, president of the Claymont Historical Society, said that some authorities believe it was a waystation on the pre-Civil War Underground Railroad, complete with a tunnel leading to the Delaware River. In an unrelated move, Cartier is sponsoring an historic overlay on the nearby state-owned Darley House.

    

IN THE MAIL: County government sent property-tax bills for the current fiscal year to owners or mortgage holders, but not to both, on July 25. They are due by Sept. 30 or, if there any back tax included, by Sept. 2 to avoid further penalty. Officials emphasized that the bills include both county and school tax. The former is at a rate of 56.14 for each $100 of assessed value in unincorporated areas of the county. That amounts to $401.49 on a residence assessed at the average value of $71,516. School taxes range from $1.7785 per $100, or $1,271.91, in the Brandywine district to $1.5097 per $100, or $1,079.68, in the Appoquinimink district.

    

Eleventh-hour filers forced County Council president Paul Clark and Councilman John Cartier into primary elections in their bids for re-election to second terms.

Pike Creek-area civic activist William Dunn challenged Clark and Carl Colantuono, who has long been active in public affairs in Claymont, will oppose Cartier. All four are Democrats and, unless the Republican party enters candidates, the winners in the September primary will be unopposed in November. The deadline for any individual to file was July 25. As previously reported, former county executive Thomas Gordon is running against incumbent Christopher Coons in the Democratic primary. There are no Republicans seeking the top county office.

State representative Bryon Short faces Republican James Bowers in November and representative Robert Valihura is opposed by Democrat Dennis F. Williams. Diana McWilliams, a Democrat, and Republican Gregory Lavelle are unopposed for re-election to round out the Brandywine Hundred delegation in the General Assembly. The race to succeed Republican state senator Charles Copeland, who is running to be lieutenant governor, is wide open with primaries in both parties. Republicans Richard Abbott, John Clatworthy and Michael Fleming and Democrats Dee Durham and Michael Katz are seeking the seat.

 

    

 

County Council appeared ready to reject Sherry Freebery's bid for reimbursement of $3.7 million in legal fees, but her lawyers indicated that the issue could well be left for a court to decide.

Members were tightlipped after hearing arguments on behalf of the chief administrative officer in the previous Gordon administration and Janet Smith, a political appointee at the time, who wants $25,000. However, the tone of their questioning during an unusual special Council session on July 21 seemed to imply that at least six were leaning toward voting against the reimbursement resolutions at the July 22 plenary session. With Penrose Hollins agreeing not to participate because of reputed past animosity to Freebery and William Powers away on vacation, that would prevent the measures from receiving a majority vote.

Lawyer Elizabeth Taylor said Freebery's 31 years of county service entitled her to indemnification after successfully defending herself against an "artful drafting of an indictment" with multiple corruption charges. Not only is she presumed not guilty of charges that were dropped but those charges "were not true," Taylor said. Had Freebery not been serving in a political position, she "would not have been charged with [any] crime," Taylor added. Failure to support government employees accused but innocent of wrongdoing would deter anyone from public service, her brother, John Taylor, also a Freebery lawyer, argued. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delafourm article.)

Asked by Councilman Jea Street if he would be willing to settle for a lesser amount, John Taylor, replied, "We didn't come here to negotiate. ... There is no air in the [legal-services] bill."

    

FOOD GOES UP: The Brandywine school board raised the price of government-subsidized lunches by 25 for the coming academic year. Elementary-school students will pay $1.50, secondary-school students $1.75 and adult staff members $3. Superintendent Jim Scanlon said prices had not been increased since 2002 and blamed higher food and transportation costs. In another matter at the meeting on July 21, Debra Heffernan was elected board president and Olivia Johnson-Harris vice president. Joseph Brumskill declined another one-year term as president. New members Ralph Ackerman and Cheryl Siskin were sworn in. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

    

REPORT CARD: Most Brandywine district schools posted increases in average scores in this year's state student assessment tests with P.S. du Pont Intermediate and Darley Road Elementary showing the largest percentage gains over 2007 results. The exception was in writing where all elementary schools had double-digit percentage declines. In an unofficial statewide comparison, Brandywine outperformed the state average in all but middle-school reading. Superintendent Jim Scanlon, in a public statement, attributed gains to improved teaching strategies and curriculum alignment. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

Percentage of Brandywine district students meeting or exceeding state standards:

 

  Reading       Mathematics       Writing  
Grades 2008 2007 Pct
change
2008 2007 Pct.
Change
2008 2007 Pct. Change
2 83.55 82.76 1.0%   85.77 86.66 -1.0%   n/a n/a n/a
3 84.31 81.56 3.4%   78.63 76.36 3.0%   46.28 69.07 -33.0%
4 83.69 78.29 6.9%   82.65 73.23 12.9%   64.47 54.47 18.4%
5 86.67 82.97 4.5%   81.87 78.19 4.7%   65.59 67.47 -2.8%
6 85.30 77.20 10.5%   79.47 69.55 14.3%   79.46 73.59 8.0%
7 81.11 86.14 -5.8%   67.65 72.47 -6.7%   62.66 68.38 -8.4%
8 78.64 79.21 -0.7%   72.56 68.99 5.2%   82.00 81.99 0.0%
9 70.02 72.89 -3.9%   54.67 52.00 5.1%   77.17 75.30 2.5%
10 75.36 77.79 -3.1%   58.66 61.49 -4.6%   87.53 74.27 17.9%

SOURCE: Delaware Department of Education

           

 

How schools fared in their respective key grades:

 

Schools

2008 2007

Pct.
change

 

Schools

2008 2007

Pct.
change

 

Schools

2008 2007

Pct.
change

         

3rd grade reading

 

3rd grade mathematics

  3rd grade writing  
Carrcroft 88.89 80.81

10.0%

  Carrcroft 87.50 80.58 8.6%   Lancashire 62.82 82.42 -23.8%
Lombardy 88.46 92.11 -4.0%   Brandywood 83.67 77.98 7.3%   Brandywood 53.61 74.07 -27.6%
Brandywood 87.23 88.24 -1.1%   Lombardy 82.76 83.91 -1.4%   Carrcroft 50.53 64.08 -21.2%
Mt. Pleasant 85.00 82.47 3.1%   DISTRICT 78.63 76.36 3.0%   Mt. Pleasant 46.63 71.43 -34.7%
Lancashire 84.93 87.64 -3.1%   Mt. Pleasant 76.22 75.78 0.6%   DISTRICT 46.28 69.07 -33.0%
DISTRICT 84.31 81.56 3.4%   Forwood 75.64 72.15 4.8%   Forwood 46.15 63.29 -27.1%
Forwood 80.00 71.43 12.0%   Maple Lane 75.00 63.16 18.8%   Lombardy 40.23 71.26 -43.5%
Maple Lane 79.17 71.70 10.4%   Lancashire 74.36 83.52 -11.0%   Maple Lane 32.91 55.36 -40.6%
Darley Road 76.27 63.64 19.9%   Darley Road 71.43 61.22 16.7%   Darley Road 32.26 57.14 -43.5%
                         
5th grade reading   5th grade mathematics   5th grade writing
Claymont 89.49 90.03 -0.6%   Claymont 83.90 84.97 -1.3%   Claymont 73.76 77.38 -4.7%
P.S. du Pont 87.25 77.83 12.1%   P.S. du Pont 83.19 75.23 10.6%   DISTRICT 65.59 67.47 -2.8%
DISTRICT 86.67 82.97 4.5%   DISTRICT 81.87 78.19 4.7%   P.S. du Pont 62.67 61.29 2.3%
Harlan 83.43 76.84 8.6%   Harlan 76.40 70.33 8.6%   Harlan 57.30 58.24 -1.6%
                         
8th grade reading   8th grade mathematics   8th grade writing
Springer 88.33 84.00 5.2%   Springer 86.42 74.92 15.4%   Springer 91.36 87.04 4.7%
Hanby 83.49 81.69 2.2%   Hanby 83.69 73.82 13.4%   Hanby 83.54 86.03 -2.9%
DISTRICT 78.64 79.71 -1.3%   DISTRICT 72.56 68.99 5.2%   DISTRICT 82.00 81.99 0.0%
Talley 67.94 69.49 -2.2%   Talley 51.66 50.84 1.6%   Talley 74.76 64.61 15.7%
                           
10th grade reading   10th grade mathematics   10th grade writing
Concord 80.15 85.67 -6.4%   Concord 63.47 71.09 -10.7%   Concord 91.42 86.64 5.5%
DISTRICT 75.36 77.79 -3.1%   DISTRICT 58.66 61.49 -4.6%   Brandywine 88.47 73.04 21.1%
Brandywine 74.58 75.65 -1.4%   Brandywine 57.81 58.44 -1.1%   DISTRICT 87.53 74.27 17.9%
Mt. Pleasant 70.05 68.81 1.8%   Mt. Pleasant 53.47 50.99 4.9%   Mt. Pleasant 80.90 57.71 40.2%
SOURCE: Delaware Department of Education      

 

How Brandywine compared to other districts:

 

District

Reading

  District

Math.

  District

Writing

             
3rd grade
Milford 89.64   Smyrna 88.82   Appoquinimink 59.58
Smyrna 88.56   Milford 87.26   Woodbridge 58.22
Indian River 88.19   Indian River 86.70   Smyrna 56.80
Appoquinimink 87.68   Woodbridge 85.62   Caesar Rodney 55.26
Caesar Rodney 85.71   Caesar Rodney 84.84   Indian River 49.16
BRANDYWINE 84.31   Appoquinimink 83.56   Christina 47.94
Christina 82.73   Cape Henlopen 80.76   Milford 47.77
STATE AVERAGE 81.69   BRANDYWINE 78.63   Capital 46.80
Capital 81.48   Christina 78.32   BRANDYWINE 46.28
Cape Henlopen 80.77   STATE AVERAGE 77.42   STATE AVERAGE 45.21
Woodbridge 80.30   Red Clay 72.79   Cape Henlopen 40.76
Lake Forest 79.73   Seaford 72.60   Red Clay 38.54
Colonial 78.90   Lake Forest 71.88   Lake Forest 36.88
Seaford 78.90   Capital 70.68   Colonial 34.84
Red Clay 78.21   Colonial 70.68   Seaford 26.79
Laurel 72.00   Laurel 62.35   Laurel 16.67
             
5th grade
Indian River 94.76   Indian River 89.21   Appoquinimink 72.81
Milford 94.26   Appoquinimink 83.68   Indian River 69.43
Smyrna 92.60   Milford 82.73   Cape Henlopen 67.63
Appoquinimink 91.04   BRANDYWINE 81.87   Milford 66.55
Caesar Rodney 90.87   Woodbridge 81.56   BRANDYWINE 65.59
Cape Henlopen 90.37   Smyrna 81.27   Caesar Rodney 65.22
Seaford 88.63   Seaford 81.15   STATE AVERAGE 62.12
BRANDYWINE 86.67   Caesar Rodney 80.07   Colonial 61.52
Colonial 86.21   Cape Henlopen 79.71   Christina 60.90
STATE AVERAGE 86.12   STATE AVERAGE 76.46   Red Clay 57.14
Red Clay 86.10   Red Clay 74.36   Seaford 55.33
Lake Forest 83.57   Lake Forest 73.49   Smyrna 55.33
Woodbridge 80.74   Christina 72.22   Capital 53.78
Christina 79.53   Colonial 66.39   Lake Forest 53.31
Capital 78.34   Capital 66.31   Woodbridge 52.48
Laurel 69.68   Laurel 63.89   Laurel 42.46
             
8th grade
Caesar Rodney 93.36   Caesar Rodney 80.10   Appoquinimink 88.57
Appoquinimink 91.82   Milford 79.94   Caesar Rodney 87.96
Milford 91.79   Indian River 79.31   Indian River 83.10
Indian River 90.10   Appoquinimink 77.21   Milford 86.73
Delmar 85.33   Lake Forest 76.63   Red Clay 82.66
Smyrna 83.91   BRANDYWINE 72.56   BRANDYWINE 82.00
Cape Henlopen 83.44   Cape Henlopen 69.01   Cape Henlopen 82.00
Red Clay 81.48   Delmar 68.95   Colonial 81.68
Lake Forest 81.27   Red Clay 68.20   STATE AVERAGE 81.40
STATE AVERAGE 80.79   STATE AVERAGE 64.91   Christina 77.89
Colonial 79.90   Smyrna 59.72   Capital 77.63
Laurel 79.75   Laurel 55.80   N.C.C. Votech 76.67
BRANDYWINE 78.74   Seaford 53.73   Lake Forest 76.26
Woodbridge 75.28   Colonial 53.52   Delmar 76.19
Seaford 75.10   Capital 51.09   Laurel 75.14
Capital 74.15   Woodbridge 50.72   Smyrna 74.65
Christina 67.79   Christina 49.03   Seaford 72.01
N.C.C. Votech 54.72   N.C.C. Votech 16.67   Woodbridge 66.99
             
10th grade
Sussex Tech 88.99   Polytech 75.17   Sussex Tech 89.97
Polytech 83.33   Caesar Rodney 73.12   BRANDYWINE 87.53
Delmar 80.26   Sussex Tech 72.12   Red Clay 87.24
Milford 78.95   Red Clay 70.35   Appoquinimink 85.55
Cape Henlopen 78.85   Milford 67.80   Polytech 83.57
Caesar Rodney 78.70   Appoquinimink 67.05   N.C.C. Votech 83.26
Red Clay 77.96   Delmar 61.01   Milford 82.95
Appoquinimink 76.18   Cape Henlopen 59.06   Caesar Rodney 82.91
BRANDYWINE 75.36   Indian River 58.97   Cape Henlopen 81.02
Indian River 73.98   BRANDYWINE 58.66   STATE AVERAGE 80.77
STATE AVERAGE 70.70   STATE AVERAGE 57.87   Seaford 80.72
N.C.C. Votech 70.32   Lake Forest 57.34   Indian River 79.92
Smyrna 66.55   N.C.C. Votech 57.00   Laurel 79.82
Seaford 65.43   Capital 52.34   Capital 79.47
Capital 65.08   Smyrna 51.32   Delmar 78.85
Laurel 65.00   Seaford 47.27   Lake Forest 77.42
Woodbridge 62.61   Woodbridge 46.72   Christina 71.62
Colonial 60.65   Laurel 44.83   Smyrna 71.52
Lake Forest 57.53   Colonial 43.01   Colonial 71.49
Christina 50.34   Christina 38.01   Woodbridge 61.03
SOURCE: Delaware Department of Education      

    

The county Department of Land Use has found the exploratory plan for an extensive makeover of Barley Mill Plaza to be unacceptable.

In a letter to Apex Engineering, planner Antoni Sekowski referred to objections voiced at a recent public hearing, but did not give specific reasons for the rejection. The objections included incompatibility with nearby communities, and traffic and drainage issues. The rejection does not kill the proposal. Sekowski noted that a revised plan may be submitted and, elsewhere in the letter, referred to the plan "proceed[ing] through the review process." Stoltz Realty Partners wants to rebuild the former Du Pont Co. office complex to include 1.4 million square feet of retail area, 657,000 square feet of commercial office space and 700 residential units.

County Councilman Robert Weiner made the letter public on July 18. In doing so, he said that George Haggerty, one of two acting general managers of the department, "was very complimentary ... noting that our comments were, for the most part, relevant and within the context of applicable rules and regulations." Sekowski's letter was dated July 8 but, despite extensive public interest in the project, the department did not disclose the rejection. Weiner said the Bryn Mawr, Pa.-based Stoltz organization "will submit a new plan which may not be significantly distinguishable from the [rejected] plan." [CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.]

Delaforum has been authoritatively advised that the Ursuline Academy athletic field adjacent to the former office complex is not included in Stoltz's proposed redevelopment.

    

The county Ethics Commission sidestepped a decision on whether Council president Paul Clark was out of line when he asked developers for ideas about changing the development code.

An advisory opinion "cannot affect events already past" and cannot be requested to "serve as a defense in other enforcement procedures," the commission said in an opinion made public on July 15. It ruled, however, that if he or she doesn't have a "pecuniary interest," an elected official "may communicate for review and comment with an industry group impacted by proposed legislation without violating the New Castle County Code of Ethics." Without "evidence of invidious intent," the commission said, it will presume "fair dealing and honesty" when an official acts on a matter of public interest.

At least six of Clark's Council colleagues apparently seized on a caveat in the opinion which said an agency can impose stricter standards. They signed on to a resolution calling upon Clark to "refrain from" sponsoring land-use legislation until "proper assurances are in place to secure ... the public's trust in our land-use process." The proposed resolution, sponsored by Councilwoman Stephanie McClellan, stops short of censuring Clark, but "expresses disappointment in [his] lack of leadership ... in land use-related matters." John Cartier, Penrose Hollins, Jea Street, David Tackett and William Tansey are listed as co-sponsors. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

The non-binding resolution could come up for a vote when Council next meets on July 22. It requires seven affirmative votes to be enacted.

    

TRAVEL SHIFTING?: Delaware Transit Corp. experienced a 7.3% increase in the number of riders on its fixed routes in New Castle County during the first five months of this year, compared to the same months in 2007. During the same period, the number of vehicles passing through the toll booths on State Route 1 near St. Georges dropped by 7.6%. While those figures are not directly comparable, they appear to lend credence to observations nationwide indicating that gasoline costs are prying some folks out of their cars and into public transit. The largest gains and losses, respectively, were in April when the fuel-cost crisis hit.

Beyond its continuing marketing efforts, Delaware Transit is not doing anything to exploit the situation, according to Michael Williams, spokesman for its parent Delaware Department of Transportation. Statistics he provided in response to a Delaforum request showed only a 2.6% increase year-to-date through the Delaware Turnpike booths near Newark. Turnpike use is largely interstate traffic while the state route attracts mostly local patrons. May is the latest month for which figures are available, he said.  Turnpike volume is half again more than travel on the state route.

    

County Council President Paul Clark was able to get a routine amendment to the Unified Development Code enacted, but there are signs that may not be easy for him to do in the future.

The landmark county law has been amended so many times since it was enacted 10 years ago that no one can say how often that has happened. Clark's measure removes a provision requiring that public transit be available nearby in order to get a plan for an age-restricted community approved. The argument for doing so was that the buses don't go where an area's population density isn't deemed sufficient to support the service. Clark's Council colleagues agreed that was logical but, when the roll was called at Council's session on July 8, three of them answered 'present' instead of voting.

Penrose Hollins said before the vote that he would abstain because Clark has a serious conflict of interest when it comes to matters affecting the code. Jea Street joined him. David Tackett also abstained, but said that was because he didn't want the requirement lifted. The measure passed with eight affirmative votes. Robert Weiner was absent. The reputed conflict stems from an e-mail Clark sent to some developers advocating significant changes to the code. It carried his wife's firm's electronic 'signature'. She is a lawyer who specializes in representing developers. The matter has been referred to the county ethics commission.

Clark at the same Council session introduced an ordinance to amend the code to extend the time developers have after plan approval to begin a project.

    

The special counsel it hired to advise on how to deal with Sherry Freebery's claim to be reimbursed for legal fees appears to have taken County Council off the hook.

Joel Rosen, a former federal judge now with a Cherry Hill, N.J., law firm, recommended that Council not pay any of $3.75 million to which Freebery maintained she was entitled under county law and state corporation law. He also advised not honoring Janet Smith's $25,000 claim. He found that none of actions alleged in the corruption indictments brought against either of the women could be construed as being within the scope of their duties as county government employees. Both pleaded guilty to relatively minor charges in the indictments and neither claimed reimbursement for fees related to those charges.

Council at a meeting of its executive committee on July 8 made Rosen's opinion, which is advisory and not binding, public and scheduled a special Council session for July 21 to provide Freebery and Smith and their lawyers a 'due-process' opportunity to appear before Council before it  makes a decision. The 12 of 13 Council members at the committee meeting did not discuss the opinion and Council president Paul Clark barred any discussion of it at the later plenary session. He said at the meeting that the final determination will be made in a "fair and open process." Rosen's opinion was dated June 25, but not previously made public.

    

POLICE STRENGTH: William Bell, co-chair of County Council's public safety committee, wants Council to determine how many cops the county should have before the fiscal 2010 budget cycle begins. Waiting until the administration drafts a proposed budget and Council conducts hearings on it would be too late to have any practical effect, he said. At hearings last spring and in 2007, Bell, co-chair Jay Street and other Council members maintained that, with an authorized strength of 264, the police force is not large enough to meet the requirements of an urban county of New Castle's size and population.

Police chief Rick Gregory told the committee meeting on July 8 that all 15 cadets who entered the police academy in January will graduate this month. He said another academy class, of a size not yet determined, will be assembled to begin training in December. Those classes, he said, should be sufficient to keep pace with normal attrition. In an unrelated move, Council at its plenary session on July 8 received a proposed ordinance that would increase by $870,000, to $3,426,495, the grant to the revolving fund supporting off-duty contracted police assignments. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

    

Brandywine schools superintendent Jim Scanlon promised that the district will make a concerted effort to improve discipline during the coming academic year.

He announced formation of a taskforce to develop a districtwide plan to deal consistently with disciplinary problems. That process has already begun with a series of discussions by administrators and staff members and will be expanded to include parents and community residents. He told about 125 attenders at a meeting on July 7 that tardiness and lack of respect for teachers and other adults are the main concerns. "It's not a lot of kids, but the few [disruptive] ones we have are sucking up a lot of administrative time," he said. That has an adverse impact on learning and student achievement, he added.

Scanlon said that suspension is not an effective deterrent. Some students intentionally misbehave to get a three-day holiday. "It makes no sense to [punish] a kid for being late to school by sending him home," he said. Asked why the district wants to educate "someone who doesn't want to be educated," the superintendent said, "We're not giving up on any kid. If we get ahead of that, they're going to graduate." Sorely lacking among available tools are mental health services for children younger than age 10 and male mentors for boys in middle and high schools, he said.

He said Brandywine has not considered single-gender classes and that it is up to each school to determine whether to require uniform dress -- two measures frequently cited as promoting discipline.

    

NEW LOCATION APPROVED: The just-enacted state capital-spending law authorizes Brandywine School District to build a new Brandywood Elementary on the Hanby Middle site in Chalfonte, according to superintendent Jim Scanlon. The Hanby building will be demolished when that school is eliminated after the coming academic year. The original plan was to replace Brandywood Elementary at its present site with a building large enough to also accommodate the Bush Early Education Center, which is slated to be closed.  Scanlon has said the district will attempt to have the Brandywood site converted into a public park. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

    

'MINORITY' HIRING: A fourth of the 44 workers employed by the six contractor firms building the new Kirkwood branch library are members of racial and ethnic minorities, Tracey Surles, general manager of the Department of Special Services, told a County Council committee on July 1. Nine of the workers are black and two Hispanic. She said county government has no legal power to require contractors to hire 'minorities', but strongly advocates that they do. Surles said 9.5% of county project contractors' 555 workers were black and 18.7% Hispanic during the first six months of this year.

    

PLAN APPROVED: The Claymont Design Review Advisory Committee unanimously recommended approval of the revised plan for Renaissance Village, according to County Councilman John Cartier. He said the action, taken at a recent committee meeting, paves the way for the Department of Land Use to administratively approve the plan. Additional modifications, however, will have to go back through the approval process, he said. Meanwhile, Council has approved a preliminary resolution agreeing to consider tax-supported financing to reimburse the developer for infrastructure costs. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

Last updated on July 31, 2008

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