personnel must sever
electronic links with children
coaches and other Brandywine School District employees will be
forbidden to engage in so-called social networking, send text
messages to or otherwise have personal electronic contact with
any student under a new policy unanimously approved by the
There was no
indication during discussion at the board meeting on Oct. 25
that there were any incidents prompting the move. The draft of
the document presented to the board said the policy was intended
"to minimize the potential for inappropriate contact ... and-or
the appearance of impropriety."
There also was no
indication of how widespread the soon-to-be-banned practices
are, but board member Ralph Ackerman remarked that it is an
issue that "all districts around the country" are attempting to
The board agreed to
make the policy effective Jan. 15 to provide time for district
lawyer Ellen Cooper to draft regulations to implement it while
acquainting employees, students and parents with the rules.
Violation of the policy or regulations will subject the
perpetrator to disciplinary action up to and including
termination of employment.
In other matters
brought before the board at the meeting a process for naming the
new elementary school being constructed in Chalfonte was
presented and Superintendent Mark Holodick reported on cost
savings and accident reduction as a result of the revamping of
school-bus routes and pickup points.
The ban on
electronic links specifies that it applies to any child
currently or formerly enrolled in any public or private
elementary or secondary school who has not reached his or her
majority and is no longer attending school. That age is not
specified, but for most legal purposes is presumed to be 18.
Exempted from the
policy are children who are members of the employee's family or
existing independent, Facebook and other contact sites will not
be 'grandfathered' under the policy. They must be ended or
brought within the scope of the policy by its effective date.
The process of ending such contacts is referred to
jargonly as 'defriending'.
policy says that district employees may maintain personal
networking and e-mail accounts for "activities outside the scope
of his [or] her employment and with personally owned equipment."
It is unclear to what extent access to or contact with those is
to be limited. But the policy does state that employees may not
disseminate any "personally identifiable information" about
students nor photographs "taken on school property or a
It also provides
that athletic coaches and other licensed employees may maintain
educational and informational sites provided they receive
written permission from their principal at the start of each
academic year. In such cases, the permitted sites must pertain
exclusively to school-related activity and access limited to
current students. Access also must be granted to allow the
students' parents, a district office representative and at least
one administrator in the school affected to monitor contents of
On the other hand,
district personnel may use district or school websites and the
state Department of Education home access center to have
electronic contact with students and their families.
The process for
naming the new school on the site of the former Hanby Middle
School involves several steps between now and the school board
meeting in February at which the choice is to be announced. Both
the present Brandywood Elementary and the Bush Early Learning
Center will be housed in the new building, which will be opened
at the beginning of or during the next academic year.
will be asked to suggest names and will vote on which they
prefer with the top three vote-getters being entered into the
districtwide selection process. That process will be open to the
public, which will be able to submit suggested names until Dec.
15. Forms for that purpose will be available on the district
website, in Brandywood and Bush, and at the district office.
Holodick will then
select members of a 'naming committee', to include teachers,
parent-teacher association presidents, representatives of the
district renovations and marketing committees and two Brandywood
students to be determined by an essay contest. Brandywood is a
kindergarten-through sixth grade school.
After the committee
narrows the choice to five finalists by the end of December, the
public will be allowed to vote, either at the schools or
district office or by mail, during the month of January. The top
vote-getter will be the name.
"We want to make
the process as fair and as open as possible," Alexis
Andrianopoulos, district public information officer, told the
Holodick said that,
except for its members having the right to vote as members of
the public, "at no point does the [school] board have any say in
[choosing] the name of the new school."
revamping the school bus operation has resulted in a reduction
of 267 miles in daily travel and an estimated annualized cost
savings of $76,000. That is subject to revision depending on
what happens with fuel prices between now and the end of the
academic year next June.
With relocated and
fewer stops, average travel time on the district's 420 routes
has been reduced by six minutes, he said. Since the current year
began, he added, "several individual stop adjustments have been
made." Some complaints are still being received and
investigated, however. Two attenders at the meeting spoke of
safety concerns about stops on Naamans and Shipley Roads.
that, through Oct. 20, there have been three "fender-bender
accidents" involving buses, compared to 17 during the same time
a year ago.
supervisor of accountability, told the board that about 40% of
Brandywine's students have taken the new Delaware Comprehensive
Assessment System math and reading tests. As a result, she said,
Brandywine "is ahead of other districts in the number of
students tested." Glitches resulted in a three-week delay in
starting the computer-administered testing, which is to be
completed by Nov. 19. There will be additional rounds of testing
at mid-year and at year's end.
indicate "a 10% to 30% decrease in student proficiency can be
expected," according to Schmidt. She added, however, that these
tests are intended to determine where students perform at the
beginning of the year and that the key results, measuring
progress, will be received at the end of year.
Although she said
DelDOE is discouraging comparing results under the new system
with those obtained under the former state assessment tests, the
data to be received will include information on how a given
student would have performed under the former system.
Acknowledging that would amount to something of a comparison she
said she doesn't think that information "will be shared with the
students or their parents."
senior program analyst with Nemours Health & Prevention
Services, presented the district with an award for its nutrition
program, which he said was the only one in the state to merit an
award. "You get not just a plaque [but also] a banner [for]
taking fried potato chips away and giving [students] healthy
potatoes," he said.
Kim Matthews, chair
of the district P.T.A. Council, told the board that Concord High
has shut down its P.T.A. in favor of an unaffiliated "Concord
Raiders Nation" organization and that Brandywine High's P.T.A.
is inactive as the result of inability to obtain volunteer