files for school
choice in Brandywine
than an estimated 300 parents and members of students' families
were on hand when Brandywine School District began accepting
applications for the 2009-10 academic year under the state
At 7 a.m. on Nov. 3
the queue wound around the parking lot at the district office
and stretched down the driveway to Radnor Green. That
development was clogged with cars and vans parked on both sides
of the streets for several blocks around the extension of
Pennsylvania Avenue which serves as access to the Brandywine
lot. Vehicle access to the lot itself for the general public was
"It's been very
orderly. People are following the rules," said Barbara Meredith,
a district administrator.
A crowd waits
in line by the dawn's early light to enter the
Brandywine district administration building to file
'choice' applications. Inside, superintendent Jim
Scanlon (standing) supervises the process of
accepting the applications.
superintendent Jim Scanlon said the process of accepting
applications was going "as well as could be expected."
The turnout was not
At the conclusion
of the current academic year, Darley Road Elementary and Hanby
Middle Schools will be closed. Intermediate schools will be
eliminated with elementary schools being extended to include
fourth and fifth grades and middle schools adding sixth grades.
P.S. du Pont Intermediate will become a middle school and
Claymont and Harlan will become elementary schools.
As a result,
attendance areas were redrawn and residents of several
neighborhoods found that their children would be assigned to
schools other than the ones to which youngsters from their
neighborhood had historically been assigned.
It could not be
determined by random conversations with those standing in line
which schools were favorite 'choice' destinations and which, if
any, were being shunned.
The school board in September
approved a one-year change in policy which moved the opening of
the application period from 8 a.m. to 7 a.m. on the first
business day in November. Doors to the Brandywine administration
building were opened about 20 minutes earlier than scheduled.
State law sets the end of business on the second Wednesday in
January as the deadline for submitting applications. In 2009
that will be Jan. 14. The law does not specify a beginning for
the application period.
A week earlier,
Scanlon ruled that no person would be permitted to submit
applications for members of more than three families. In an
e-mail he had said that was in response to reports that some
people were offering to serve as proxies for several families
and some of those were charging a fee to do so.
At that time,
Scanlon also requested that no one 'camp out' overnight.
Members of the
school district staff assist waiting parents and
family members complete the required 'choice'
paperwork. Meanwhile, resident of Radnor Green awoke
to find the streets in their neighborhood clogged
with vehicles belonging to those who came to file
disregarded that request. Dee Stanley told Delaforum that she
had come at 9 a.m. on Nov. 2, and waited almost 22 hours to
'choice' her daughter into Springer Middle instead of going to
Talley Middle. As it happened, someone had arrived earlier and
she ended up second in line, Stanley said.
She said about 30
people spent the entire night, by midnight that number had
doubled and it had redoubled by 4 a.m.
'choice' process will not be completed until the school board
acts on the applications in February. They will be processed
according to a hierarchy of priorities set by the board in
September. At the top are those displaced by the school
closures. The number to be accepted depends on capacities of the
The procedure which
was adopted specifies that applications are to be processed in
the order in which they are received.
"That's the way
we've always done it," Scanlon said.
first-come-first-served arrangement, he added, is fairer than a
random selection would be and, with a large number of changes
for the coming year, will result in "more people getting their
This will be the
only time those who are successful will have to go through the
process. As long as academic standards are met, a student
remains 'choiced' to a given school through all its grades.