propose several new programs
Committees planning the Brandywine School District's tax
referendum have submitted proposals for new or expanded programs
they estimate would cost in the neighborhood of $5 million in
each of the next three years.
That is a 'ballpark' calculation because the five committees did
not use a common format in their reports.
According to a timetable posted earlier on the district's
website, a sixth committee -- referred to as the resource and
planning committee -- is to review the recommendations in time
for them to be submitted in final form to Marty Tracy, chairman
of the referendum effort, by Dec. 22. He and district officials
are to present a "cohesive referendum plan" to the school board
for approval at its Jan. 23 business meeting.
The referendum is scheduled for Mar. 28.
The new tax ceiling to be requested from voters presumably will
include room to include normal year-to-year increases in
spending on current operations as well as whatever proposed
innovations survive the final review process. The current
expense component of the Brandywine property tax is $1.289 for
each $100 of assessed property value. The total rate is $1.8385.
There has been no public indication of how long the increased
ceiling would be expected to hold. The present one has been in
effect for five fiscal years. Cost estimates provided in the
committee reports, however, referred to the next three years.
All presumed the innovations would begin to be implemented in
fiscal 2013, which begins next July 1.
The largest pricetag -- just under $4 million, spread over three
years -- was submitted by the academic opportunity committee.
Of that, $2.4 million would go to introducing "foreign language
exposure" in all of the district's
kindergarten-through-fifth-grade elementary schools. Students
would receive that instruction once a week. Eleven specialist
teachers would be hired. The report did not specify which
language or languages would be taught.
The committee also offered three scaled-down options. One would
provide such instruction during just a third of the academic year,
reducing the number of specialist teachers required to four. The
other two would use after-school clubs managed by two staff
members receiving extra-duty compensation. Although not stated,
student participation in the clubs presumably would be
Also recommended by the committee would be summer school
programs for students needing remedial help in third, fifth,
sixth and eighth grades. In a different context, superintendent
Mark Holodick previously said he would like to see all students
reading below grade level assigned to a summer program.
The facilities committee recommended increasing the district's
building maintenance budget by $1.65 million a year with all the
district's buildings placed on a three-year maintenance cycle.
"Following the first two three-year cycles, the district should
be able to maintain a true preventative maintenance schedule
where we are working on systems before they fail," its report
The committee offered a $1 million alternative which would
involve a four-to-five year rotating maintenance schedule.
The technology committee called for a $1.1 million-a-year
upgrade over the next three years. About two-thirds of that
would go to install a classroom instructional technology program
in every classroom and provide teachers with
professional-development training to use it. It also proposed
providing "ubiquitous wireless access" for computers in every
A relatively modest $300,000-a-year expansion of co-curricular
and extra-curricular activities was proposed by that committee.
The largest expenses would be in extra-duty pay for staff
members and providing additional bus transportation for students
who participate. Most of the additional effort would be directed
toward elementary schools where sports and arts clubs would be
offered three days a week. Additional after-school clubs would
be established in the middle and high schools.
The learning environment committee recommended spending $400,000
a year to provide, on a contract basis, a behavior
interventionist specialist in the elementary schools; $95,000 to
expand the 'peer court' arrangement in secondary schools which
has been financed for the past three and a half years by the
Criminal Justice Commission. $90,000 to institute a mentoring
program for students entering sixth or ninth grade; and $25,000
for professional development.