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  • Superintendent's Message - October 2015

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    Dear BSD Community,
     
    On opening day, I spoke to all BSD teachers and administrators about equity and ensuring that we are delivering services and programs that meet the needs of all students so they can learn, grow, thrive, and succeed.  This is not a new initiative or theme for this school year.  Rather, it is a philosophy that should be embedded into every program, conversation, committee, initiative, and classroom.  It is our job as educators to create a culture and climate of equitable support across the District.
     
    This week, we received a wonderful reminder of how much that means to our students and families.  A Carrcroft parent posted this picture on the BSD Facebook page with a lovely note thanking Carrcroft Elementary and in particular Principal Mark Overly for including her son in his first after-school flag football game. 
     
    carrcroft  
     
     
    The post went viral: more than 1,350 likes, nearly 100 positive comments, and 95 shares.  It caught the attention of the News Journal, and that post also received hundreds of likes and was shared more than 125 times.  The look on this student’s face is pure joy, and all it took to make him that happy was being included in something that many other students were doing.  This is what all of us in BSD are striving for every day, in every interaction with every student and family. 
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent   
     
     
     
     
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  • Superintendent's Message - September 2015

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    Dear BSD Community,

    As you may know, State and District data from last year’s Smarter Assessment has been released to the media this week and, as expected, the proficiency rates are significantly lower than previously collected state assessment data.  Across the State and in BSD, the percent of students at or above the proficiency level has dropped as compared to DCAS and DSTP.  While Brandywine is higher than the state average, we are still lower than we have been in previous years and, more importantly, not where we ultimately want to be.

    One of the big reasons for the drop is that Smarter Balanced is a fundamentally different test than students have ever taken before.   It is a computer-based, adaptive test that measures skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and mastery of subject matter.  It includes short answer and performance task items, multi-step problems, conceptual questions, and writing skills.  In short, it is a harder test than previous state assessments.  That being said, one test, no matter how challenging, does not define a student.  Rather, the student’s portfolio over time is a better predictor of success.  The Smarter scores being released are but one data set we can use to gauge student performance; we have many additional data sets (classroom assessments and grades, AP scores, SAT scores, and STAR reading and math scores, to name a few) as well as non-assessment measures such as work ethic, involvement in extracurricular activities, ability to work in small groups and teams, etc.

    If you recall, when DCAS was first implemented we saw a similar dip in scores.   We worked hard, used the data to inform instruction, implemented supports and programs, and saw significant growth over the four years of DCAS.  We expect the same to occur with Smarter Balanced as teachers and students become more familiar with this very different type of test.  That is why I for one am choosing to stay focused on the present and future.  We will continue to support our students, families, and teachers and focus on equitable practices in order to eliminate gaps in services, support, and ultimately achievement.

    Sincerely,

    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent
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  • Superintendent's Message - Back to School 2015

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    September 2015
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    The first week of school is off to a great start!   Thanks to all of our staff, students, and families for their positive attitudes and smiling faces.   The opening of school has been smooth and very positive so far.   We hope you appreciate everything our staff has done across the District to get buildings and classrooms ready for students so we all have a fantastic year.  (In case you missed it, a recent Facebook post detailed all the work done this summer by our Facilities Department, and our teachers and Curriculum & Instruction Department has also done a wonderful job to get everyone ready for the year.)   
     
    Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent 
     
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  • Superintendent's Message - August 2015

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    August 28, 2015
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    Come Monday...
     
    Turn over the engines
    Run the school buses.
    Open the doors.
    Welcome students and families with open arms.
    Educate all students in a loving and caring way.
     
    It's going to be a fantastic year!  
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent 
     
     
     
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  • Superintendent's Message - August 2015

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    August 2015
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    It’s hard to believe, but the summer is winding down and the school year is quickly approaching.  I hope you have all had a restful and enjoyable summer and are rejuvenated and ready for another great school year.  I have to give huge kudos to our Facilities staff for the outstanding and comprehensive work they have done this summer.   Every one of our buildings has received some work – whether it’s painting, landscaping, cleaning, or more involved enhancements – and a few buildings have undergone dramatic changes to improve safety and security for students and staff.  Our Facilities team works hard year-round to ensure that our buildings receive the necessary improvements and updates to be the best in the state, and their hard work is very much appreciated.  
     
    All BSD teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrators will kick off this year on Wednesday, August 26, and our conversation will be an important one.  In my remarks, I will focus on the foundation of the Brandywine School District: outstanding customer service, a high level of professionalism, all with an emphasis on equity.   In education today, we are all dealing with high stakes accountability, a polarizing national environment, and near-constant reform and changes.   It is more imperative than ever that we know our focus and hone in on the needs of our customers – students and families.   They are the reason for everything we do.
     
    Enjoy the rest of the summer!  I look forward to seeing you soon.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent 
     
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  • Superintendent's Message - July 2015

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    July 2015
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    Happy summer!   I hope all of you are enjoying time with loved ones, some well-earned time off from work, and even vacations to fun locales.
     
    To our parents:
    Schools and District Office are staffed during the summer,  so please do not hesitate to reach out if you have a question or need assistance with a school matter.  Many of us are here year-round to serve you.
     
    To our students:
    READ!  And then read some more.  I can't stress enough how important it is to keep reading through the summer.   It can be a book, a magazine article, or even an online blog.  Just keep reading.  
     
    Have a great summer, everyone.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent 
     
     


     
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  • Superintendent's Message - June 2015

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    June 2015 


    Dear BSD Community,
     
    Another successful school year has come to an end. I can’t possibly list all of BSD’s accomplishments in the space allotted here, but here are a few: a successful transition to a new schedule at the secondary level, a national grant for Concord students to invent a new device to assist hospital textile workers, the first STEM Award for three high school STEM teachers, a 5th place world finish in Odyssey of the Mind, the best bus driver in the state, another hugely successful District Art Show, dozens of prizes at Delaware History Day and Delaware/National TSA competitions, the first National Elementary Honor Society class at Carrcroft, statewide and national recognition for Mount Pleasant Elementary’s environmental efforts, parent engagement activities at all schools, and so much more. 
     
    Every year at this time, I work with my Executive Team and the School Board to review the school year, assess programs and positions, dissect what has gone well, and evaluate how to keep improving.  After all, as Voltaire said, “Good is the enemy of great.”  We do many, many things well.  It is not enough, however, to be good.  Our goal is to be great.  Ensuring that the right people are in the right positions to affect positive growth is a large part of this equation.  I would like to inform you of some leadership and organizational changes for the 2015-2016 school year.  As always, these changes have been carefully considered to ensure they represent what will best serve our students and families in the coming year so that we continue on our journey toward greatness.  The changes become effective on June 22, 2015.

    Thank you for another great year.  Have a wonderful summer!

    Sincerely,

    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent
     
     
     
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  • Superintendent's Message - May 2015

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    May 2015
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    Spring has sprung!  That means there are a lot of fun activities going on (athletics, spring performances, Moving Up Day, and commencement) as well as some necessary but not as fun events such as finals, AP exams, and more.  Students, I want you to continue to work hard, read every night, and do your best on these important end-of-year assessments.  Don't look ahead to summer just yet; there is still important work to be done in the classroom.
     
    Parents, I hope you will have a chance to enjoy some of the activities mentioned above.  Students and staff have done a great amount of work to prepare for performances, interscholastic events such as Math 24, and athletic competitions.  I encourage you to attend as many as your schedule permits.  I know the students, teachers, and advisors will appreciate having you there!
     
    Of course commencement is an event that every student looks forward to throughout their academic career.  This year, commencement for all three BSD high schools will be held Sunday, May 31, at the Bob Carpenter Center at UD.  The schedule is as follows:
     
    Mount Pleasant High School - 1 p.m.
    Concord High School - 4 p.m.
    Brandywine High School - 7 p.m.
     
    Please remember that tickets are required for admission to all commencement ceremonies.
     
    Enjoy the spring, and I hope to see you at a BSD event soon!
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent 
     
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  • Superintendent's Message - March 2015

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    March 2015
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    Over the past several weeks, there has been some discussion about the new state assessment, Smarter, and many people have been asking for BSD’s position on testing.  As a former principal and now as Superintendent, I have always supported state assessments.  They provide information on what students know and can do, and test reports enable teachers and administrators to deepen their understanding of student progress and identify gaps to help students succeed from grade to grade.  I understand that not all parents agree on the value of state assessments and that this issue is becoming increasingly political.  That being said, I also understand that some students have legitimate issues that may necessitate an exemption from high stakes testing.  We have always reviewed those exemption requests, and this year will be no different.  
     
    The process for requesting an exemption from the Smarter assessment will be the same as it always has been in BSD.  Parents who wish to request an exemption for a medical issue should submit a letter to the school their child attends.  The letter should include any relevant documentation, where applicable.  Once the letter has been received by the school, the principal will review it and forward it to District Office for final approval by me or my designee as appropriate.  As in years past, the exemption request must cover the entire testing window.  For students in grades 3-8, the window is March 10 through June 4.  For students in grade 11, the window is April 13 to June 4.
     
    This process, which has been our standard for at least the five+ years I have been Superintendent, is fair and impartial.  Legitimate concerns will be addressed as they always have been; however, I am uninterested in a game of political chess that uses kids as pawns.  While I support state assessments in principle, I do believe we have entered an era of over-assessment.  I too am a parent of children who will be taking assessments this spring.  In my role as Superintendent, I have been proud to serve as a representative of our district and lobby for our parents and students – with DOE, state legislators, and even the federal government.  I will continue to advocate for our parents, teachers, and of course students to try to strike a healthier balance between teaching/learning and testing.   I hope that we can all put politics aside and work together so that we can best support the people who matter most – our children.  
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent
     
     
     
     
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  • Superintendent's Message - February 2015

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    February 2015
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    As you have heard me say many times, parent involvement is critical to students' success.   Students with involved parents or other caregivers earn higher grades and test scores, have better social skills, and show improved behavior.  Engagement is a word that is tossed about with great frequency, but it really encompasses several easy ways to stay involved.  These include checking homework, reading with your children, setting goals, talking about the students' day, and ensuring students get adequate sleep and nutritious foods.  Another easy way to be engaged in your child's academic career is to check their grades and assignments through the Home Access Center.  You can click here for more information.  If you don't know your login information, simply call your child's school for assistance.  
     
    You can play a big role in ensuring your child keeps up on their work and succeeds in school!
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent
     
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  • Superintendent's Message - December 2014

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    December 2014
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    I hope you have had the opportunity to attend one or more of the winter concerts at our schools this month.  They have truly captured the spirit of the season and showcased the talents and hard work of our students and music teachers.  Time and again, I have heard nothing but great feedback from parents, staff, and community members after the concerts.  I am so proud of our students for all their hard work and dedication.  
     
    As we enjoy the last few days of school for this year and prepare for Winter Break, I want to wish all of you a very happy holiday season, time with loved ones, good health, and prosperity throughout the new year.  I am looking forward to great things in 2015 for all of us!
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent 
     
     
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  • Superintendent's Message - November 2014

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    November 2014
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    As news of another polar vortex sweeps across the country, I want to let parents know that we are being extremely proactive in preparing what could be another nasty winter.  We're all hoping it won't be, of course, but we will be ready for anything.
     
    As in past years, we have built snow days into the student calendar this year.  If we have fewer snow days than expected, students will earn extra instructional time, which is always a good thing.  Here is some information on how snow days will be handled this year.
     
    Eight snow days are built into the student calendar for all students in grades PK-11 and four days for students in grade 12.  These days would not need to be made up.  If we have more than eight snow days this winter, here is how additional time would be made up for students in grades PK-11.
     
    The next five days (snow days 9-13) would be added to the end of the school year during the week of June 8-12.  If there are more than 13 snow days this winter, four additional make-up days would come out of spring break.   If there are more than 17 snow days this year (perish the thought!), days would be made up either by extending the school year beyond June 12 or extending the school day.  All of that would have to be determined at a later date, of course.
     
    For seniors, any additional days beyond their four snow days would require a modified schedule that would be determined at a later date.  
     
    Meanwhile, let's all keep our fingers crossed for a milder winter than last year!

    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent 
     
     
     
     

     





     



     

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  • Superintendent's Message - September 2014

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    September 2014
     
    Dear BSD Community, 

    A recent internet post depicting the senseless beating of a 26 year old Delaware man who has special needs has captured national attention and drawn out much emotion.  It should.  Simply put, it is sickening behavior that cannot be tolerated.  As someone who has kids in school and works with children for a living, I find it not only horribly disappointing but utterly deflating.  With that said, events such as this provide our district, schools, staff, students, and families with an opportunity to self-reflect on our practices, policies, procedures, and relationships.  As a district, we have implemented numerous programs to minimize and hopefully someday eliminate bullying and other inappropriate behaviors, such as piloting the innovative No Bully program in all nine of our elementary schools under the leadership of Assistant Superintendent Dorrell Green. 

    We must, as the adults who run and operate our schools, continue to strive for a district-wide school culture that celebrates diversity, promotes empathy and understanding, and encourages children to accept others for who they are.  Students with disabilities are often the target of bullying, as are students who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender.  It is our responsibility, in school and at home, to have age-appropriate and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about attitudes, behaviors, and caring for all people, not just those who are like us.  We in BSD can help.   There are resources available for parents, including school PTAs, the Brandywine Special Needs PTA, our wonderful and caring special education staff under the leadership of Supervisor Mark Mayer, and more.  Please feel free to contact any of us at any time if you need information, guidance, or help. 

    We are fortunate in Brandywine that as a large comprehensive public school district, we welcome and educate all.  That is our goal: ALL students.  Yet, I am not naïve and recognize that we have plenty of work to do in this area.  Let’s work collaboratively to shift the deflated and angry feelings we have when reading about this recent event and instead use it to springboard our efforts to create a caring, nurturing, welcoming, and loving environment for all students in the Brandywine School District, from PreK all the way through 12th grade.  

    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent
     
     
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  • Superintendent's Message - August 2014 (2)

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    August 2014
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    Welcome back!  I am so excited to see all of our staff and students back in our buildings.   The first days of school are integral to the overall tone and climate for the entire school year, and I am pleased that the year has started so well.  
     
    Over the summer, our facilities staff was hard at work getting buildings, playgrounds, classrooms, and athletic fields ready for the school year.   This is just a partial list of what they accomplished over the past few months: 
     
    • Maintained 397 acres of property
    • Thoroughly cleaned more than 2 million square feet of building area
    • Emptied and cleaned 790 classrooms
    • Moved approximately  47,000 pieces of furniture
    • Stripped, sealed and waxed 27 acres of vinyl flooring
    • Applied 2,820 gallons of floor finish
    • Reseeded, top dressed and fertilized all sports fields
    • Major work on the tracks and gyms at Concord and Brandywine High Schools
    • Replaced 50% of Brandywine’s water fountains
    • Major renovations to Brandywine’s Audion 
    • Renovations to Brandywine’s STEM lab
    • Removed carpet and damaged floor tile from several classrooms and replace at Mt. Pleasant High
    • Repainting, casework repairs, and new flooring in Mt. Pleasant High School music rooms
    • Brick repointing and restoration at P.S. duPont Middle School
    • Wall and floor tile work to eight bathrooms at Claymont Elementary
    • Attic HVAC equipment maintenance and ductwork realignment and air rebalancing at Forwood Elementary
    • Hallway painting 1st floor at Harlan 
    • Library carpet replacement and entry way flooring at Harlan
    • Replacement of Lombardy chiller and associated re-piping  
    • Partial curb replacement at Maple Lane
    • Painting of all hallways, gym, cafeteria, and Multipurpose Room at Mt. Pleasant Elementary
    • Replaced interior rain water piping from attic to basement at Mt. Pleasant Elementary (30% of total piping)
    • Pothole repairs District wide (from winter damage)
    I have visited every one of our buildings over the past few weeks, and I can attest that they look immaculate and very welcoming.  I hope you agree.
     
    Let's make it a great year!
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent
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  • Superintendent's Message - August 2014

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    August 2014
     
    Dear BSD Community, 
     
    Earlier this summer, I was asked to submit Back to School tips to the Jewish Voice, which I was delighted to do.  The tips are helpful for students of all ages, whether this is their first year in school or whether they are in high school.  I hope you will find them useful!
     
    The tips are on page 28 of the Jewish Voice, accessible by clicking here.
     
    Happy reading, and enjoy the rest of your summer!
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent
     
     

     
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  • Superintendent's Message - July 2014

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    July 2014
     
    Dear BSD Community,

    As you may know, the state’s DCAS results were released yesterday.  There is an article in today’s News Journal with detailed test score data.   I am pleased to report that at many grade levels and in all core subject areas of reading, math, science, and social studies, BSD students saw continued growth on this important assessment.  When we look at our growth over the past four years, we see tremendous improvement.  This is in no small part due to the initiatives that we have implemented over the past several years, including Singapore Math, STEM, and Learning Focused Solutions, to name a few.  With that said, we also recognize there is plenty of room for continued growth and overall improvement.  By the way, this was the last year for the DCAS assessment, as the state is moving to a new, more rigorous test called Smarter Balanced, as well as a new curriculum via the Common Core Standards.  We will continue to be vigilant in our efforts across the district to support and challenge our students so that they may learn, grow, and excel.  

    To that end, while summer academic and enrichment programs are underway, we are busy planning and preparing for the 2014-2015 school year.  This work includes curriculum alignment, scheduling, enrollment planning, and much more.  All of our work is geared toward one goal – student success.  Our commitment to academic excellence is unwavering.   You have my word on that.

    I hope you are enjoying your summer.  As I always do at this time of the year, I encourage all of you to help the children in your lives develop a healthy love of books and reading!  As Dr. Seuss said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

    Sincerely,

    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent

    P.S. If you are interested in learning more about the new assessment or Common Core Standards, please visit http://delexcels.org/

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  • Superintendent's Message - May 2014 (2)

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    May 2014
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    The end of a school year provides an opportune time to reflect back on our successes and challenges, as well as look forward to continued progress and growth.  As you have heard me say many times before, even though we are a very successful district, we must continue to look for ways to become stronger.   Certainly leadership is a key component of that success.  With that in mind, and with a few administrator retirements coming within the first half of the upcoming school year, I would like to inform you of some changes in leadership for the 2014-2015 school year.  All of these changes will be effective on Monday, June 23, 2014. 
     
    Acting Principal, Carrcroft Elementary School – Mark Overly
    Assistant Principal, Carrcroft Elementary School – Ed Harris
    Principal, Claymont Elementary School  – Ned Gladfelter
    Acting Principal, Harlan Elementary School – Hekima Wicker
    Acting Principal, Lancashire Elementary School – Lavina Davis
    Assistant Principal, Lancashire Elementary School – Jim Grant
    Assistant Principal, Mount Pleasant Elementary School – Ella Burton
    Dean of Students, P.S. duPont Middle School – Eunique Lawrence
    Assistant Principal, Brandywine High School – Marqueia Davis
    Assistant Principal, Brandywine High School – Keith Rolph
    Assistant Principal, Brandywine High School – Marty Regan
    Acting Principal, Concord High School – Yolanda McKinney
    Dean of Students, Concord High School – Diane Gray
    Principal, Mount Pleasant High School – Heather Austin (no longer Acting Principal)
    Assistant Principal, Mount Pleasant High School – Wally Waite
    Administrator Leadership Coach – Carol Norman (retiring effective December 1, 2014)
                    
    Please know that these changes were carefully considered and ultimately represent what will best serve our 11,000 students.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent
     
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  • Superintendent's Message - May 2014

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    May 2014
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy
     
    Brandywine is a successful district.  Our reputation is very positive, our students continue to make significant academic gains, and our staff is the best in the state.  However, we cannot rest on our laurels.  We are doing very well, but we can always get better.  
     
    Part of my job as your superintendent is to lay the foundation for the future of this district and the 11,000 students we serve.  Right now, we are in the very beginning stages of a strategic planning process  that will guide us through the next five years.  Through careful analysis and thoughtful planning, we are working to ensure that our students have the skills and knowledge necessary to compete globally when they graduate from our schools and go on to college and career.  
     
    The strategic planning process is a large undertaking, but other changes are in the works as well.  The District is adopting a block schedule for all middle and high school students, starting in the 2014-2015 school year.   This new schedule was recommended after months of research and evaluation by a committee that consisted of parents, teachers, administrators, and staff.  The A/B Block schedule that we are adopting will allow us to better meet the needs of all students. 
     
    I recognize that change can be difficult, but it is necessary if we want to continue to improve.   We must be willing to do the hard work and make difficult decisions in the best interests of our students.  They deserve no less.  
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent  
     

     
     
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  • Superintendent's Message - March 2014

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    March 2014

    Dear BSD Community,

    I am almost afraid to say it, but winter is finally on its way out!  After this particularly challenging winter, and especially all the snow days we experienced, I know many parents are curious about whether or not we will need to add days to make up missed time.  Here is some information that I hope will explain where we are right now and alleviate many concerns.  

    The State of Delaware requires every student to have a minimum of 1,060 contact hours per school year.  Several years ago, we developed a schedule/calendar that provides additional hours for all students.  For example, this year our elementary students have 1,118 contact hours built into the calendar.  That adds up to a total of 58 additional hours or 8 additional school days that are beyond what is required by state law.  

    We have missed a total of 9 school days due to inclement weather this year.   All of the New Castle County school districts have requested that five of the missed days be waived by the Department of Education and the State Board of Education because the inclement weather caused a State of Emergency.  This request will go to the State Board of Education in either March or April.  If approved, there will be no student make-up days necessary because of the additional time we have built into our BSD student calendar.

    Of course, if the days are not forgiven as requested, we will need to make up some of the time.   Please be assured that we will not take days away from spring break.  If necessary, we would add student days onto the end of the school year.  

    As always, I thank you for the support you have shown to our District, and particularly our staff, during this very difficult winter.  Our facilities and custodial staff in particular have done an outstanding job with the conditions, and I know we are all deeply grateful to all of them for their dedication and hard work.  

    Meanwhile, think spring!

    Sincerely,

    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent  
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  • Superintendent's Message - February 2014

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    February 2014
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    This winter has certainly been a demanding one so far, and it’s not over yet.   Depending on which forecaster you listen to, there are rumors that February could bring even more snow and bigger storms our way.  Our facilities and custodial teams will meet any challenge head-on, just as they always do.  However, this winter has clearly shown us that digging out from a large storm is a group effort.  
     
    Every time we encounter inclement weather, our crews spring into action.  The facilities team, which consists of 13 staff members, is responsible for clearing all the parking lots, bus loops, and roadways on BSD property – plowing, salting, and sometimes even shoveling by hand.  That is 35 acres of parking lots and access roads.   At the same time, 116 custodial staff have the responsibility for making sure all sidewalks, steps, walkways, and entrances are clear for all 19 of our buildings.  In January alone, our crews have spread 226 tons of rock salt and 1,600 bags of ice melt on District property.  These dedicated men and women work long hours, often well into the night and/or early in the morning, to make sure our buildings are safe for students and staff.   The custodians alone put in 37 hours (per person) for snow removal in the month of January; that’s a total of 4,292 hours of manual snow removal in one month.  
     
    Which brings me to a point that may be unpopular.  A few parents have asked why the District doesn’t plow or shovel the bus stops.  Given the enormous responsibility that is already placed on our crews, we simply cannot ask them to take on more, especially on property that does not belong to the District.   The simple truth is this: we all have to work together.   I am asking parents who share a bus stop to arrange a plan to ensure there is a safe, snow-free place for children to stand and wait for the bus.   If we continue to work together, we can get through this difficult, challenging winter!
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent

     

     
     
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  • Superintendent's Message - January 2014

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    January 2014
     
    Dear BSD Community,

    Happy New Year!  I hope you had enjoyable holidays and a relaxing winter break.

    In this message I want to address your involvement in your child’s education, your school and our district.

    Parent engagement is a priority for the Brandywine School District.  Research has shown that students achieve greater academic success when their parents or guardians are involved in their education and create home environments that encourage learning.  Specifically, students perform better, have higher grades and test scores, and are less likely to engage in disruptive behavior when their parents become involved in their education.   In fact, a 1994 study concluded that the most accurate predictor of a student’s achievement in school is not income or social status but the extent to which that student’s family supports and encourages the student’s learning and development.  

    There are many ways you can get involved, if you’re not already.  

    1.    Utilize eSchool and the Parent Access Center in a grade/age appropriate manner.  If you are not sure how to use these resources, please contact your child’s school.
    2.    Attend school functions and events.
    3.    When necessary, email your child’s teachers, counselors, and administrators.
    4.    Be sure to receive our monthly Brandywine Briefings electronic newsletter.  You can subscribe by sending an email to info@bsd.k12.de.us.
    5.    If you are on Facebook or Twitter, like or follow us.
    6.    Check your contact information in eSchool for accuracy so that you are sure to receive Alert Now phone messages from your child’s school and District Office.
    7.    If time permits, volunteer in your child’s classroom or school.

    The success of ALL students is our #1 goal.  Administrators, teachers, staff, parents, and the community can work together to achieve that success.

    All my best for a wonderful 2014!  

    Sincerely,

    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent
     

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  • Superintendent's Message - December 2013

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    December 2013
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    Now that winter is upon us, I thought it would be helpful to share some information about how decisions are made with respect to opening school during inclement weather.   Assistant Superintendent Dorrell Green, Facilities Supervisor John Read, Transportation Supervisor Rob Harding, and several other staff members are on the roads, in neighborhoods, and on school properties before, during, and after each storm.  They analyze the conditions and provide valuable information.  In addition, we work with other state agencies such as the Department of Transportation, Department of Education, and Delaware State Police, as well as our neighboring New Castle County school districts to make the most informed decisions possible when determining if and when to open schools.  

    Once a decision has been made, our Public Information Officer Alexis Andrianopoulos handles the communication responsibilities.  If you want the most updated information available, always check the BSD website first, specially the yellow box on the homepage.   That is the first place we update, followed by the BSD Facebook page, Twitter feed, state school closing website, and finally local media such as WDEL, WJBR, and Philadelphia tv stations.  While Ms. Andrianopoulos is doing that, I am creating the AlertNow message.  That message is typically launched at 5:30 AM.   Here is a suggestion: if you are unsure what the conditions will bring in the morning and whether or not we will have school, simply refresh the BSD website to see what’s in the yellow box, as it will contain the most up-to-date information.  I typically try to make a decision about school closing by 5 or 5:30 a.m., although it can vary a bit depending on the storm.  

    As we have seen time and again, predicting weather is an imprecise science at best.  (As you may recall, the forecast for this year's first snow storm called for 1-2” inches of snow, followed by a mix of snow and freezing rain, finally turning to all rain….  Instead we got 8-12” of snow in a period of just a few hours!)    We make the best decision we can based on the information we have available to us.  Our goal is to minimize interruptions to our school schedule; however, we must consider the safety of our children first and foremost.  

    I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season and a relaxing, enjoyable break.  

    Sincerely,

    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent

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  • Superintendent's Message - November 2013

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    November 2013
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    Since it’s customary to reflect on what we’re thankful for at this time of year, I’d like to share some of the highlights from the first half of this school year.  We have much to celebrate in BSD!

    I am thankful for not only the smooth start to the school year in August, but also the incredible work that was done by our facilities and technology teams over the summer to prepare all of our buildings.   I can honestly say the buildings and grounds have never looked better, and our technology folks are working hard to upgrade systems, install equipment, and improve infrastructure to ensure that our staff and students have access to the technology they need.

    I am thankful that Hanby Elementary School was named a Delaware Recognition School and received a $50,000 grant from the state.  It is always gratifying to see great work recognized.   I am also thankful that we received LEED Gold Certification for Hanby (our goal was Silver).  

    I am thankful that Brandywine was one of four districts to receive a total of $600,000 in grant money to transform high school teaching and learning through the BRINC Consortium.  As our world evolves, it is critical that we keep pace and offer students the opportunity to learn and succeed.

    I am thankful that the Brandywine Education Foundation was not only formed but also able to offer 22 scholarships to students who graduated from Brandywine, Concord, and Mount Pleasant this year.

    I am thankful for the great working relationship we have with local law enforcement.  Not only do we have outstanding SROs in our secondary schools, but we also were able to host a very important training exercise with the Delaware State Police at Springer Middle School earlier this month.  On a related note, I am very thankful for the diligent, swift, and thorough work by the Delaware State Police in connection with the online threats that were directed at Concord High School last month.

    I am thankful for the donation of thousands of pieces of chemistry equipment to our secondary schools from PSEG and the Delaware State Chamber.   These partnerships are becoming more and more important, and the donation will ensure that we are preparing college- and career-ready students.  Speaking of college-readiness, I am thankful for the successful College Application Month events at all three of our high schools and for the work that ALL of our schools do to prepare students for success.

    Finally, I am so thankful to work with such a dedicated and talented staff of professionals at all levels of the organization. 
     
    My very best wishes to all for a happy, healthy, and relaxing Thanksgiving.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent
     

     

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  • Superintendent's Message - October 2013

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    October 2013
     
    Dear BSD Community,
     
    October is a busy month for all of us: homecoming celebrations, Halloween parties and trick-or-treating, athletic events, fall musicals, and more.   As the schedule heats up, the days get cooler – and shorter.   This means there may be occasions when students are walking to and from school and the bus stop in the dark.  I urge you to take all the necessary precautions to keep all of our students safe.  Please remind students t
     
    -    Stay on sidewalks or paths whenever possible, and walk in well-lit areas.  
     
    -    If there is no sidewalk, always walk in the shoulder facing traffic so you can see and react to all vehicles.  
     
    -    Beware of tripping hazards like wet leaves, rocks, or uneven sidewalks.
     
    -    Wear light or brightly colored and reflective clothing, and carry a flashlight.  
     
    -    Walk with a buddy!   Form a walking school bus by meeting up with other students and families who are walking the same way and getting to school or the bus stop as a group.
     
    -    Be aware of your surroundings.  This means no texting or talking on a cell phone while you’re walking, and no earphones that can reduce your awareness of others around you.
     
    You have heard me say this before, but it bears repeating.  The safety of our students and staff is our #1 responsibility.  Let’s all work together to make sure students are safe from the time they leave home to the time they return at the end of the day.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent
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  • Superintendent's Message - Back to School 2013

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    August 27, 2013

    Dear BSD Community,

    WELCOME BACK!  I am excited about the start of another school year, and I hope you are too.  Over the past week, I have visited every school, met with teachers and staff, greeted students and parents, and popped into classrooms.  The energy level is very high! 

    Hopefully you have noticed how clean and spruced up our buildings are this year.  Our facilities team did an outstanding job of cleaning and preparing our buildings this summer.  I can honestly say our facilities look better than ever, thanks to their Herculean efforts.

    I am looking forward to seeing all of you over the course of the year.  Let's make it a great one!

    Sincerely,

    Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.
    Superintendent
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