Brandywine School District has asked the state Department of
Education to authorize spending nearly $55 million to renovate
four school buildings, demolish the unused Burnett high-rise
building on the P.S. du Pont campus in north Wilmington and
install new turf athletic fields at its three high schools. The
program would be paid for by long-term bonds if the department
determines that any or all of the component projects are
justified. That decision is expected to come in November. The
proposal then joins requests from other public school districts
for presentation of the state Budget Office, which prepares the
governor’s capital-spending budget for submission to the General
Assembly in January. Historically, most school building projects
Scott Kessel, chief finance officer, said the bonds will not
require an increase in the capital-spending portion of the
district’s overall tax rate because older bonds, which a carry
higher interest rates than would be expected from a new issue,
are being retired at a pace which more than offsets the
debt-service cost associated with a new issue. There are
currently $54.1 million bonds outstanding. Kessel said there is
no ceiling on the total amount of bonded indebtedness. The
present capital-spending tax rate is 24¢ for each $100 of
assessed property value.
School board president John Skrobot said, however, that it is
likely the referendum at which district residents will be asked
approve the bond issue will be combined
The Burnett building
with a proposal to increase the main portion of the
property tax rate to finance operations. That referendum
is tentatively list to be held in next February or
If the usual ratio holds the state would pay
60% of the actual projects costs. The district would be
responsible for 40%. While that division is frequently
presented as an advantage for local taxpayers, the
actuality is that district taxpayers are also state
Facilities supervisor John Read said the board must
approve the individual projects. The five-year program
was presented to the board at its annual ‘retreat’ in
July and made public in general terms at the board’s
August business meeting. Read added that specific
details will be forthcoming.
Far-and-away the largest proposed project is complete
renovation of Claymont
Elementary at a cost of $26.5 million.
Construction is slated to begin in the spring of 2018 and be
completed in the summer of 2021.
Items dropped from the 1994 renovation of Brandywine High would
be completed at a cost of $14.7 million. The work would be done
during the summers of 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Carrcroft Elementary, which was renovated in 1995, would receive
additional renovation and an addition at a cost of $4 million.
That work would begin in the summer of 2017 and completed the
The facilities base is to be moved from the Claymont Elementary
campus to the site on Pennsylvania Avenue in Claymont that
formerly was occupied by the district’s administrative office.
The cost of that project is listed as $1.9 million.
Turf fields would be installed in the summers of 2017, 2018 and
2019 at a cost of $5 million.
Demolition of Burnett will be complicated by a requirement that
the property first be offered to state, county and city
governments. If there are no takers, the estimated cost was put
at $2.6 million. Superintendent Mark Holodick said it is
intended that the site, which abuts the P.S. du Pont stadium, be
converted to an athletic field. The eight-story building was
constructed by the former Wilmington Public Schools in 1972.
it was, the announcement that 13 gang members had been arrested
on 91 charges doesn’t solve Wilmington’s gun violence and drug
problems. Hopefully the months ahead will see a concerted effort
to build on this first step and create the momentum necessary to
reverse the city’s reputation as a place where criminal violence
is endemic. There no doubt are other active gangs and other
individuals who must be swept off the streets. The newspaper
this morning reported another shooting
just a day after Attorney
General Matt Denn’s dramatic announcement of the arrests.
Bobby Cummings reported three times as many homicide cases
‘cleared’ so far this year compared to last. That’s jargon for
being ready to be turned over to prosecutors with a reasonable
expectation of obtaining a conviction. That’s commendable, but
still indicates that just slightly over half of the fatal
shootings this year have been ‘solved’ and arrests made. More of
the same kind of professional detective work that has brought
the record to where it now stands is called for. The goal must
be establishing strong odds that anyone who commits a violent
crime is going to pay the penalty.
deterrent, however, is to create a general awareness that
significant penalties will be imposed. That can only come from
the criminal justice system – the courts.
The juveniles among those arrested must be tried as
adults. All 13 gang members are terrorists and must be dealt
with as such. The bottom line is that the state seek the death
penalty for those the evidence proves acted with callous
disregard for human life. There is a real danger that, as the
lengthy process proceeds, sympathy for the victims – most, if
not all, of whom were themselves engaged in present or past
criminal activity – will be shifted to the point where it’s
shared with the perpetrators. That’s not to deny them their
right to a fair trial. It has been amply demonstrated that,
under our court system, fairness and justice are not
City officials are
looking for Chemours Co. to announce as soon as early next month
whether it will keep its headquarters in Wilmington. The Du Pont
spinoff is now based in the Du Pont Building at 10th and Market
Streets. It reputedly has committed to remain there for two
According to a source
in city government, Chemours has narrowed the choice to
Wilmington or an undisclosed site in sururban Chester County,
With incentives from
Pennslylvania, moving would result in a lower tax bill. But the
source noted that virtually the entire headquarters owrkforce --
more than 650 people -- live in the city and its suburbs and
presumably would be adverse to being part of a mass relocation.
Moreover, the choice involves the prospect of having to
construct new facilities versus occupying an existing building.
Although old, the Du Pont Building has been well maintained and