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February 28, 1997     Cape Gazette
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February 28, 1997

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4 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, February 28. March 6, 1997 Kerry Kester photo Cape District election boundary changes draw little opposition During a public hearing of the Cape Henlopen School District Board of Education on Thurs. day, Feb. 20, board members met with little opposition and much support to examine altering the school board election boundaries for Areas C and D. Andy Brandenberger, director of business operations, noted that due to real estate development in the areas over the past 20 years, some boundary lines are confusing and some now appear to cut directly through hous- ing developments. Population figures, he said, keep the boundaries unbalanced, as well. "There are boundaries all over this district that are really hard to define, n he said. The board asked Brandenberger to work with Frederick Schranck, a lawyer who as a parent of the dis- trict volunteered his expertise in creating new dividing lines. The board was expected to re- view a proposal and possibly vote on the change at its Thursday, Feb. 27 meeting. If the board votes for a change, it will submit the proposal to the state legislature for a fast-tracked bill that will allow the change to be effective for this spring's Area D election. Sue Shupard cur- rently holds that seat. Filing deadline is April 10 for the May 10 election. Skeencontract By Kerry Kester Issues surrounding administra- tive contracts continue to be of concern tO the Cape Henlopen School District Board of Educa- tion. Controversy hovers over the board, as it wades through legal and other issues after recently ac- knowledging a discrepancy be- tween school board minutes and Cape Henlopen School District Superintendent Suellen Skeen's contracts. Becki Millman, school board president, remains steadfast against making a public comment on what may have caused Skeen's contract to read that it expires in 2001, while board minutes reflect the contract expires in 2000. She also declined comment on why the board has still not voted to renew any administrative con- tracts, a clear variation from its past practice of renewing the con- tracts in December of each year. "The issues the board is facing are best dealt with in a slow, sure process, rather than a quick process, where mistakes can easi- ly be made," said Millman of the delayed action. Skeen was initially issued a contract in July of 1993; that con- tract's expiration was June 30, 1997. Noted on the contract was a statement that reads, "Will be eli- gible for consideration for con- tract to be extended to a fifth year during December 1994." In December of 1993, board minutes reflect that her contract was extended for an additional year, and a new contract - issued Dec. 17, 1993 - reflected an expi- ration date of 1998. Where the situation becomes .discrepancy remains mystery murky is in December of 1994. The board again renewed admin- istrative contracts and added an- other year to Skeen's contract, but the actual contract for that year, issued Jan. 4, 1995, showed the expiration date of 2000 - one year more than what the board minutes indicate was the board's decision. When the administrative con- tracts were renewed in December of 1995, again the board voted to extend the contract by one year. Skeen's contract, dated Dec. 22, 1995, shows it expires on June 30, 2001. Skeen's first three contracts were signed by Walter Hopkins, who was the board president. The last contract was signed by Board Presi- dent Milton "Butch" Archer. Millman agreed that there is a problem with Skeen's con- SKEEN tracts, though she did not state what may have been the cause of the discrepancy in 1994. "There is confusion about what the board intended [at the time of the contract's issuance]. The con- tracts should be made whatever actions are carried by the board," said Millman, refer- ring to the meeting scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 27, where the board was expected to examine the issue in open session. The board's action on Skeen's contract varies significantly from its past practice, where it issued two-year contracts to superinten- dents with annual one-year rollovers in December. That prac- tice essentially meant that admin- istrators basically were on a con- tinual two-year contract. Offering a superintendent any- where from a three- to five-year contract when he or she is hired is not an unusual practice, said Paul Carlson, executive director of the Delaware Association of School Administrators. With moving expenses and oth- er considerations, districts may of- fer a longer first contract as added incentive for a candidate to accept a job. A common practice, how- ever, is for the first issued contract to run down to whatever the nor- mal rollover period is for adminis- trative contracts, and then It enters the rollover cycle. The rollover practice, said Carl- son, also called the "evergreen clause", keeps the contract on a renewable cycle without gaining years or being years ahead of board action. Essentially, it re- mains status quo: as one year runs out, another is added. Carlson said how districts in Delaware practice the evergreen clause varies from district to dis- trict. "In some districts, it's two years with the third year a rollover," said Carlson. "In some districts, it's three years with the fourth year a rollover." The only thing that districts need to be particularly mindful of, he said, is that state law limits dis- tricts to entering a maximum of a five-year contract for administra- tors. Skeen's contract duration is presently at the law's maximum. Administrators report success with Cape High's discipline By Kerry Kester Discipline strategies at Cape Henlopen High School appear to be meeting with success, but school officials continue to en- courage parents to become more actively involved in their chil- dren's education. Only five parents and one stu- dent attended a Parent TeaCher Student Association (PTSA) open forum on high school discipline on Monday, Feb. 24 in the Cape Henlopen High School Little The- atre. Members on the panel address- ing disciplinary issues included Ron Burrows, Ed.D., principal; Marge Peck, assistant principal; Sally Cordrey, prevention special- ist; and Tony Streett, board mem- ber. Although Burrows said he is generally pleased with the disci- pline system and the behavior of most students, he believes the school's environment would be improved with more parental in- volvement. "Any system you have depends on how well the parents support that system," said Burrows. The extended day disciplinary mea- sure, for example, was instituted because parents were upset that children were missing academic classes when they were sitting in an in-school suspension room. With extended day, students miss no classes. However, said Burrows, even though the school notifies parents that their children are expected to attend extended day school, atten- dance there is poor. That, in turn, leads a child to the next level on the discipline scale. "There are only so many resources we have as a school," said Burrows. "Anytime you have a system of dis- BURROWS cipline, it de- pends on the students, parents and the school district working togeth- er...that's the key to success." Marge Peck, assistant principal, mirrored Burrows' thoughts. "I have asked for parents to come and sit in classes," she said. "To this point in the school year, I've only had two parents take me up on it." Those parents, however, found the experience positive, she said. According to the panel mem- bers, the most successful strate- gies for maintaining discipline this year have been the hall moni- tors, strict adherence to the code of conduct and the presence of Det. Mark Ostroski, Delaware State Police youth resource offi- cer. "Students do come to Det. Os- troski, seek him out and ask him questions," said Burrows. "He does a lot of consulting with stu- dents. They feel safer...that he's here." The four hall monitors add to that security, too, he said. "The halls now feel like a more secure envi- ronment," said Chris Goering, ju- nior class sec- retary and member of the Student Government Association. "[Their pres- OSTROSKI ence] has changed the atmosphere toward the positive." Cordrey emphasized that part of Ostroski's work in the schools is in an intervention capacity, and he has arranged for Cape students to participate in such special pro- grams as the Gang Resistance Ed- ucation And Training (G.R.E.A.T.), which is offered at the Delaware State Police Train- ing Academy. Additionally, she said, he has coordinated resources for the schools, such as contacting Vic- tim Services or Delaware Youth and Their Families, for those stu- dents with particularly sensitive needs. Streett extolled the assistance Ostroski has given the district's discipline committee through guidance on developing policies for the district. "He has been there on several occasions to lead us," said Streett. Sandra Ware, PTSA secretary, asked about the success of the hall monitors. "I've heard some complaints from students who just feel they're being bullied by hall mon- itors," she said. Burrows responded that moni- tors are expected to check student hall passes and assist administra- tive personnel in getting students to the office for discipline purpos- es. He also commended them for the help they give students by es- corting them to the parking lot to get forgotten books, etc. In fact, he noted, one of the monitors even coaches a team. Two of the monitors are on tem- porary assignment, hired shortly after the school was plagued with a series of bomb threats. Streett said Andy Brandenberger, direc- tor of business operations, is cur- rently checking to see if the dis- trict can finance their positions for the remainder of the year. One parent in the audience was curious as to how discipline in the school had changed this year com- pared to last year. "It hasn't changed in terms of the rules so much," said Burrows. "It's changed in terms of having more help to do it." The next meeting of the PTSA will be held at the high school on Monday, March 24 at 7 p.m.