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Last updated Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Brandywine School District teachers will receive annual pay raises under terms of a three-year labor contract with their union approved by the school board. Although the pact with Brandywine Education Association was ratified unanimously by the four members of the board who attended its monthly meeting on Sept. 22 and ceremoniously signed, it was not discussed in public nor were its terms revealed. Scott Kessel, the district's chief financial officer, told Delaforum after the meeting that the contract calls for an immediate 2% increase, retroactive to July 1, 1.5% next July 1 and 2% on July 1, 2016. Kim Doherty, director of human resources, said the contract was still in draft form and would be made available to the public in a few days. The union, she said, ratified it in late August. The board evidently was informed  about its contents in one or more closed-door executive sessions.

In a separate matter apart from the meeting, Kessel said district administrators have, so far, not received any salary increases for the current academic year "nor have any plans for raises been presented to the board." In response to Delaforum's annual request under the state Freedom of Information Act for information about administrators' salaries, he provided a listing which disclosed that 58 are earning in excess of $100,000 this year. CLICK HERE to access the list.

The board also unanimously approved without discussion a $171.2 million preliminary operating budget for this fiscal year, up 1.6% from fiscal 2014. Spending of revenue derived from property tax and other local sources will increase by 3.4%. According to its executive summary, increases in revenue and expenditures are "due to the continued funding [from] the district's successful operating [tax] referendum on Mar. 28, 2012 as well as projected contract salary increases and [automatic] step adjustments (based on employees' length of service). It is usual practice for the district to operate under a preliminary budget until a final version is approved in November or December.

In response to a question from an attender at the meeting, Superintendent Mark Holodick said Brandywine is opposed to "top-down initiatives coming from the state [Department of Education] that are [adversely] affecting students and teachers." He was not specific, but it seemed apparent that he was referring to a recently-published newspaper article that reported that the department is considering a plan that would require all teachers in six schools which serve low-income areas in Wilmington -- three each in the Red Clay and Christina districts -- to resign so that those with "the commitment and skill to improve student achievement" can be rehired to serve under "elite principals."

Only four of the seven members of the Brandywine school board -- the minimum required for a quorum -- attended the meeting. They were board President John Skrobot Jr., Michael Falstad, Cheryl Siskin and Cara Stanard. Absent were Ralph Ackerman, Joseph Bumskill and Olivia Johnson-Harris.



All content, unless otherwise noted, by Jim Parks



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