Thursday, May 31, 2007

Budget and Numbers about Brandywine School District

The Brandywine School District does have information about the referendum on June 4th, but of course the slant is toward getting voters to approve the tax hike. The message certainly heaps on the gloom and doom if the tax hike doesn't go through - staff reductions, school closings, reduction in salaries, stipends, programs, books. Is the school district running on such a shoestring that the moment the funding slips a little everything must be cut? Having programs before they are funded is called "counting your chickens before they are hatched". The brinkmanship tactics also do not inspire confidence. Raising taxes is a highly unpopular thing in these days of rising gas prices and stagnant house prices and wages.

Exploration of the School District website will lead you to the page with all of the budget information on it. The budget reports are available as .pdf files. I find the actual budget to be difficult to read, and the 2007 budget was poorly (unreadably) scanned. At 50 pages or so, I don't feel I have the time to understand to the level required to offer a truly informed opinion on the need for the referendum. What does pop out in the summaries is the fact that the school district appears to run a surplus from year to year.

For even more detailed information on all of the financial goings on in the Brandywine School District I recommend the website sponsored by the Committee to Save Our Schools. There is a wealth of information gathered there about salaries, costs per student and other data gleaned from various Department of Education Documents. I have been unable to duplicate the efforts of those on the website, so I suggest you contact them for confirmation of the data, but some primary data sources that I can find do check out with the Schoolwatch data.

Some interesting data from School Watch:

This is a link to the administrator salaries. 56 administrators with an average salary of $105,000. By the way, Dr. Jim Scanlon, the superintendent, makes $163,000/year.

Or this chart (by Allen Kemp) of the growth of the budget well ahead of the standard of living and flat school enrollment.

The question is what information do you need to have to vote in the June 4th referendum? What will you vote be? I think School Watch says it should be "no".

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