Breaking News: Priority Schools in Christina Will Convert To Red Clay in 2016

According to a VERY anonymous source in the Delaware Department of Education, this is the plan with the three priority schools in the Christina School District:   Next year, Stubbs, Bancroft and Bayard will remain in Christina as they currently are but they will be given to Red Clay Consolidated School District in the 2016-2017 academic year.  Apparently a very small team from the Christina School Board came to the DOE for a meeting.  This meeting was hinted at in the 2/27 deadline letter in regards to the WEAC recommendations.

After everything, Christina still loses the three schools, but under their own terms.  It is unknown at this point if the schools will still have priority status by then because no one knows what will happen with the reauthorization of ESEA.  In my opinion, Christina successfully thwarted the DOE at nearly every level.  They never outright caved in to the demands inflicted upon them and said “okay, take our schools.”  This is usually what happens to priority schools in other states.  Red Clay signed their memorandum of understanding last year.

Teachers will not be forced to reapply for their jobs and the principals will get to stay.  At least or the 2015-2016 year, according to my DOE source.  What many people don’t see is how very powerful Red Clay Consolidated School District will become as a result of this.  They will become the biggest school district in the state.  While they have not authorized any charter schools in the last six years because of their own moratorium, do not forget they are indeed a charter school authorizer.  The only other entity in the state for this is the DOE.

Recent events on Red Clay’s own board suggest a power play is in the offing.  There has been a jockeying of power going on, and the attempted coup d’état Kilroy spoke of yesterday is just the beginning.  The charter players in Wilmington want in on the Red Clay board because they are an authorizer.  These schools would have become Red Clay schools anyways due to the upcoming legislative push to implement the recommendations of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee.  The status quo in Delaware has always been charter boards on one side and traditional boards on the other.  The moratorium on charter schools in Wilmington is a smokescreen to let the dust settle.  I predict many more charters in Red Clay Consolidated in the next few years.

Was the priority schools initiative a smoke and mirrors power play brought on by Governor Markell and the Wilmington power brokers?  Given the events brought on by the announcement and what came immediately after would give weight to this theory.  Many answers for this can be found here: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/the-priority-schools-foias-part-2-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-rceaprez-apl_jax-ecpaige-nannyfat-roof_o-delawarebats-netde-edude-delaware-edchat/

The pieces have been in play for years, and Red Clay could become a charter-wide district in the next few years.  But would it be individual charters as they operate now, or could we see a large charter chain such as KIPP swoop in and slowly wrest control from the original charter operators?  I’ve touched on this topic before.  The recent takeover of Family Foundations Academy from the East Side Charter School gives weight to this theory.  The Charter Collaborative in Wilmington, which includes East Side, Kuumba, Thomas Edison and Prestige gives even more weight.  Alignments such as these, on their own, do not amount to much.  But when looking down on the entire Wilmington landscape and the events that have been allowed to happen, everything has a purpose.  And even though they have been very quiet lately, do not count out Rodel.  They may appear to be out of the picture, but make no mistake, they framed it.

11 thoughts on “Breaking News: Priority Schools in Christina Will Convert To Red Clay in 2016

  1. agree wit John, this post is poked through with the very sketchy and the very iffy. For one thing, all DE public school districts are charter authorizers. RCSD just happens to be realizing that capacity. The norm for incoming charters is to go through the state, perhaps because of the laxity of oversight.

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  2. There is a lot that has to happen before this merger is realized. There has to be legislative approval; there has to be much worked out with the two local affiliates of DSEA; the very issue of the “priority status” has to be dealt with. However, that said, it looks now like the three schools will remain intact next year: teachers can stay, leadership can stay. No reapplications necessary for teachers. No fear of charters swooping into the East Side of Wilmington and snatching the schools. And let us remember that next year 2016 is an election year and the major players in this charade will change! The CSD Board has not discussed any of this yet. Probably best to hold off and wait and see what is in the WEAC Final Report scheduled to be released in mid-March. The only district which does authorize charters is Red Clay. The only other current authorizer is DOE. CSD passed a resolution in the last academic year that we would be receptive to considering an authorization role. I don’t know of any other district which has done that on the record.
    Also, Christina has additional schools in the city besides the now famous 3, what will their status be? Many, many questions, no answers yet.

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  3. Harrie, I look forward to the conversation. Like I said in the post, these are plausible scenarios, but they are by no means definitive. I’ve been calculating all the moves by all the players for a long time now, and this is a very likely endgame. I’m sure the schools in New Orleans, York and other cities said this could never happen here, but look at what happened prior to those schools becoming charter districts. One important thing to remember is the individual charters may not be too happy about a charter chain coming in, so there could be a charter war happening behind the scenes right now. I am fully aware it would take legislative approval for this to happen, and I believe that will happen prior to June 30th.

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  4. Any hint from your DOE source as to the funding of these schools if/when they are given to RCSD? My reliable source said that CSD will be funding the schools for up to five years until Red Clay can absorb the additional expense.

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    • First off Mominator, I love the name! Second, I have no clue on that part. I would think if Red Clay takes the schools, than that allocation of funding from the state and feds would go to Red Clay, but don’t quote me on that!

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  5. Looking at Chapter 5 of Title 14 you can see that converting a school to a charter takes a bit more than a snap of the fingers. 50% of the teachers and 50% of the parents (undefined in the code, is it 50% of all parents in the feeder? 50% of the parents whose kids are presently in the school? What 50%) must agree. Those are not small numbers to pull together. There are also a myriad of issues around staff: contracts, seniority lists, positions, etc. All of this has to be carefully negotiated for a seamless transition, if there is to be a transition to something other than being a CSD school. Would Red Clay want all of our Wilmington real estate? That’s a lot of teachers, a lot of kids, etc. What about the high school kids who would then be residents of the Red Clay district but now come out to a Newark high school? So much needs to be done….let’s wait and see if WEAC puts any parameters on their ideas in their report of January 26 when they issue their final report. And always, there’s the question of money….where will it come from? An expensive project I’d say….Red Clay’s charters are presently all schools that are very specialized, none are converted traditional schools. That is a new game….so far never played in Delaware, and so far I’ve seen nothing that tells me that is the direction anybody is contemplating with a merger.
    No matter what we can just sit back and say this has surely not been a boring year!!!

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  6. Pingback: Exceptional Delaware Top 10 Lists Spring 2015 Edition With Predictions | Exceptional Delaware

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