Sussex Beat, August 5, 2002
NOTE: Sussex Beat is a log of news briefs and commentary by Kerin Magill, editor of Sussex County Online, with contributions from Sussex County Online users.
West Nile Threat Exists Despite Drought
Although there have been no reports of West Nile Virus in Sussex County this year, the mosquito control manager for Kent and Sussex counties said on Monday, Aug. 5, 2002, that residents should not assume there's no risk of the disease reaching the area.
One crow with the virus was found on July 9 in New Castle County. Last year, one horse in Georgetown tested positive for the disease, as did several horses in Kent County.
David Saveikis, program manager for the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's mosquito control section, said his office in Milford has received "hundreds of calls" from residents concerned about the virus this year.
Although there have been no reports of deaths in Delaware from West Nile Virus, last year three people in neighboring Maryland died from the disease.
In Louisiana last week, four deaths from West Nile Virus were reported. Twenty-six new cases have also been reported in Louisiana and 10 other people are being tested for the disease in that state this week.
Saveikis said the dry conditions throughout the state may have kept mosquito populations low so far this summer, but cautioned that "we don't want people to get the idea that because mosquito numbers are low, there's no way to get the disease."
On the contrary, Saveikis said, the fact that West Nile was found in New Castle County in July may indicate the disease is better established this year than in 2001, when it was not detected until mid-August.
He said Sussex County residents should continue to take precautions against mosquito bites. They including staying indoors at dawn and dusk and in the early evening, wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts outdoors, and using a bug spray containing 20-35 percent DEET.
West Nile Virus, while not normally fatal in humans, is more likely to be fatal among the elderly. Symptoms of the disease include headache, body aches, and often skin rashes and swollen lymph glands. In severe cases, the disease can also cause disorientation, stiffness, stupor, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.
Anyone who finds a dead bird -- particularly a crow, blue jay, owl or hawk -- they suspect died of West Nile Virus, should call the Kent/Sussex office of the Mosquito Control Program at 422-1512. Gloves should be worn when handling the dead animals.
Seaford Tests Better, But Room to Improve
While the Seaford School District still has some distance to cover to catch up to many other schools in the state, its students did post gains in most areas of the Spring 2002 Delaware Student Testing Program.
With only a couple of exceptions, Seaford schools typically performed in the bottom half of the state on the Reading, Writing and Math tests this year.
The major bright spot was the Writing performance turned in by third graders at West Seaford, who finished 15th out of 87 schools in the state with 61 percent meeting the standards.
There was other encouraging news, as well, as third graders at Seaford Central posted major improvements in Reading and Math with double-digit increases in the percentage of students meeting those standards, fifth graders at Seaford Intermediate made great strides in Reading, and eighth graders at Seaford Middle continued their improvement in Writing.
On the down side, eighth graders declined in Reading and 10th graders dropped nearly 15 percent in Writing.
The state-wide rankings generally show how far Seaford still has to go to catch up to other school systems in the state.
Seaford Central students were in the bottom half of the state in Reading and Writing despite a strong showing in Reading with 81 percent meeting the standard, fifth graders at Frederick Douglass were in the bottom 20 percent in Math and Reading, eighth graders were in the bottom half of all three subjects, and 10th graders were in the bottom 15 percent of all three subjects.
Following is a look at how each school performed in the Spring 2002 tests.
- Third Grade -- Third graders at Seaford Central Elementary and West Seaford Elementary continued to show dramatic improvement in Reading with 81.55 percent meeting the state standards. That's up more than 10 percent over last year's 71.54 percent and continues a pattern of improving every year since the tests began. At West Seaford, 80.33 percent met the standards compared to 74.84 percent in 2001. That's a big improvement over early years of testing, when just 55 percent were meeting the standards.
- Fifth Grade -- Improvement is also continuing at Frederick Douglass Intermediate, where 68.09 percent of fifth graders met the Reading standard this year. That's up over last year's 60.37 percent and up more than 15 percent from the 52.92 percent who met the standards in 1998.
- Eighth Grade -- Seaford Middle School 8th graders are having trouble in Reading as they have been unable to sustain any healthy improvement in their scores. In 2002, only 62.54 percent met the Reading standards compared to 64.75 percent in 2001. This year's results are up only 4 percent over the 58.54 percent who met the standards in the program's first year in 1998.
- Tenth Grade -- Seaford Senior High students posted a modest improvement over 2001 but still, just 55.56 percent are meeting the Reading standards. That's barely better than the 55.35 percent who met the standards in 1998.
- Third Grade -- Third graders at Seaford Central posted another double-digit gain in Math, while third graders at West Seaford remained relatively steady with a slight decrease. At Seaford Central, 81.31 percent met the standards compared to 68.94 percent a year ago. Again, Seaford Central third graders have bettered their performance in Math every year since testing began. At West Seaford, 77.94 percent met the Math standards for a slight drop from 79.5 percent in 2001. While both figures represent a dramatic improvement over the 50.63 percent who met the standards in 1999 but a troubling drop from the 84.67 percent who met the standards in 2000.
- Fifth Grade -- Frederick Douglass fifth graders showed modest improvement in Math but still has only 56.17 percent of students meeting the standards. That was up from 54.95 percent in 2001.
- Eighth Grade -- While 8th graders posted a nearly 7 percent gain over 2001, only 43.01 percent met the Math standards in 2002. This year's effort was only 2.4 percent over the 8th graders' previous high of 40.61 percent in 2000.
- Tenth Grade -- Just 30.74 percent of 10th graders met the Math standard in 2002, up slightly from the 27.08 percent who met the standard in 2001. The 30.74 figure is the highest in the five years of testing at Seaford High School.
- Third Grade -- West Seaford really shined in Writing this year as it more than doubled the percentage of third graders meeting the state standards with 61.31 percent compared to 29.45 percent in 2001. The high point for West Seaford, however, remains the 64.93 percent who met the standards in the program's first year in 1998. Although Seaford Central had another double-digit increase in the percentage of students meeting the Writing standard, only 37.38 percent managed to do so. Last year, only 25.74 percent met the Writing standard, compared to 54.87 percent in the first year of the DSTP in 1998.
- Fifth Grade -- Frederick Douglass fifth graders have taken a step backwards on the Writing test as 39.15 percent met the standards in 2002 compared to 48.58 percent in 2001. The best performance posted by fifth graders was 51.42 percent in 1999. This year's results approached the previous low for fifth graders of 39.08 percent in 2000.
- Eighth Grade -- Seaford Middle students have performed best on the state writing test, as 2002 students posted the best results of any 8th grade class to date with 65.28 percent meeting the standards. That was up considerably from last year's 58.56 percent and continued a steady rise from a low of 48.06 percent in 1999.
- Tenth Grade -- This year's 10th graders dropped off dramatically in Writing from last year's sophomores. Only 31.65 percent of 10th graders met the standards in 2002, compared to 46.85 percent in 2001.
County Council to Vote on Boca East
Sussex County Council will vote on a proposed zoning change from Boca East LLC for an age-restricted community with single-family residences, apartments and assisted living units in Angola during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 6.
The county Planning and Zoning Commission on June 13 recommended 5-0 that the council deny the developer's application for the zoning change from agricultural/residential to medium residential/residential planned community.
The proposed development, Boca East, would be located on 258 acres northeast of Sussex Road 279 and .9 mile southeast of Road 277 and would contain 509 residential units, with 123 lots, 189 cottages, 153 apartments, and 50 assisted living units.
The planning commission listed the following reasons for its recommendation:
- The proposed 153 apartment units and 50 assisted living units would be out of character with the surrounding single-family stick-built and manufactured homes;
- The access road is inadequate to serve the development and the surrounding area; it is narrow, curved and lacks adequate shoulders;
- Roadways in the proposed community are inadequate for emergency vehicles;
- The proposed access road frequently floods, according to area residents;
- The proposed site, 40 percent of which is tidal wetlands, is located in an environmentally sensitive area next to the Rehoboth Bay; and
- State agencies have reported the presences of rare plants and animals on the site.
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