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November 16,  2010

Brandywine board votes
to waive class-size cap

As it has each year since the law was enacted, the Brandywine school board voted to take advantage of its escape clause and exempt the district from the state mandate to limit class size in kindergarten through third grade to 22 children. For the first time, however, the district has complied with the requirement to allocate at least 98% of 'teacher units' to the schools whose enrollments generated them. This year 34 of the 152 classrooms affected by the cap are over it, up significantly from 14 of 158 last year. But 17 of the current ones qualify as meeting it because they have teacher aides assigned to them. On that basis, Carrcroft and Harlan have no classes over the limit. Forwood has five requiring waivers and Mount Pleasant Elementary has four.

Financial officer David Blowman told the board that 16 classes have 23 students, 11 have 24, five have 25 and two -- at Carrcroft and Lancashire -- have 26. Average class size in the district is just under 21, he said. The district has 3,178 students in the covered grades in its nine elementary schools. After the board voted unanimously and without discussion at its meeting on Nov. 15, superintendent Mark Holodick said the district had received four written objections to granting waivers, but did not elaborate on what they said. Public notice of the intent to consider waivers said the required public hearing would be combined with the meeting's public comment session -- which followed the vote on the meeting agenda. No one spoke at that time.

The board elected Mark Huxoll vice president succeeding Olivia Johnson-Harris who moved up to replace Debra Heffernan, who resigned after being elected to the General Assembly. The board will appoint someone to fill the vacant seat in January or February.

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