The Capital Board of Education broke away from its typical meeting schedule and convened on Tuesday night, during which the board approved the Fiscal Year 2014 budget and received an update on Dover High School’s partnership zone status.

The Capital Board of Education broke away from its typical meeting schedule and convened on Tuesday night, during which the board approved the Fiscal Year 2014 budget and received an update on Dover High School’s partnership zone status.

Sean Sokolowski, business manager for the Capital School District, presented the board with a budget that included $105,607,229 in projected revenue and $101,136,338 in projected expenditures. The budget was approved by a 4-0 vote, with board member Brian Lewis absent.

Sokolowski has projected that at the end of Fiscal Year 2014, the district will have a total reserve or “carry-over” of $17,617,433 ($10,357,295 of which comes from the local share.) That reserve total is a result of the 2005 operating referendum. The district will begin to spend those funds over the next five years. This follows a typical bell-curve phenomenon in referendum funding, Sokolowski said.

“In the referendum cycle we start to build up the carry-over funds and then you get to the peak of the bell-shaped curve,” he said. “We have gotten over that bell-shaped curve and we’re on the downward slope.”

Sokolowski included a five-year projection in his budget report. He has projected that by Fiscal Year 2018, the local share of the district’s reserves could dwindle to $6,102,953. He stated that at the $6-million mark, he would begin to be concerned about the reserves, and depending upon the amount of deficit spending the district was engaging in, that may be the time to consider the possibility of a referendum.

“A lot of things can happen between now and then, so I would suggest that projection be taken with a grain of salt,” Sokolowski said. “It depends on legislation and the economy and so forth.”

Partnership Zone

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Superintendent Michael Thomas updated the board on Dover High School’s partnership-zone status and informed them that the Delaware Department of Education provided him with criteria that would allow the school to come out of the partnership zone.

Dover High was designated as a Partnership Zone school in 2011 by the Delaware Department of Education. The designation is given to schools that need to improve student achievement. The district was given $1.3 million to carry out a plan to improve student achievement at the school. Dover High School is in its third of four assigned years as a partnership zone school.

During the first year of the program, a plan was developed and approved to improve student achievement. During the previous and current school year, the plan was funded, implemented and is being monitored by a DOE Turnaround Unit. In the 2014-2015 school year, the funding will end but the monitoring will continue.

Thomas informed board members that the Department of Education made him aware of two options schools can use to exit the partnership zone.

A school either has to meet its adequate yearly progress requirement for state testing at least once by the end of the second partnership zone year or the school must achieve targets in reading and math for Race to the Top and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which aims to decrease schools’ non-proficiency levels on state testing for all students by half by 2017, according to Lawanda Burgoine, Capital’s partnership zone and district assessment specialist.

Dover High School has achieved both to these options, Thomas said.

“The high school has made AYP for two straight years,” Thomas said. “The school has already met both options they need to meet to move out from under partnership zone.”

 Kent County Community School

Renovations are scheduled to take place at Kent County Community School’s main site behind William Henry Middle School and at its two satellite sites at Booker T. Washington Elementary and Central Middle School during summer 2014.

Due to the construction the Capital School District needs to find a place to house the KCCS students that typically attend a summer program at the KCCS’s sites, Thomas said.

“A lot of our KCCS students are very medically fragile,” Thomas said. “We can’t expose them to the type of construction that’s going to take place at the building, even if we partition the building off.”

Thomas’ solution would be to temporarily relocate the KCCS students to the old Dover High School for the summer months to allow the KCCS renovations to be completed.

Originally, Dover High School was supposed to be emptied and abated at the end of the current school year so that the old school building could be demolished, but delaying the abatement could potentially save the district money.

Summer is a busy time for abating buildings, according to Thomas. EDiS, the firm managing the construction of the new Dover High School, has recommended that the district wait until September, when the summer rush has died down, to abate the old Dover High School.   Holding off three months could potentially save the district 20 percent on the cost of abatement.

“It’s worth it,” Thomas said. “It’s a fair amount of money.”

The board has not yet made an official decision to temporarily relocate KCCS or postpone the abatement.