Budget Projections Place Christina In Jeopardy In A Year If Current Trends Continue

Christina School District

The true financial impact at Christina School District was revealed for all last night, and the most troublesome of these numbers was the bleeding out of students from Christina to charters.  It is a requirement that any district in Delaware be able to meet the first month’s payroll prior to the school year starting, and CFO Bob Silba announced this may not be a possibility in a year’s time.  Board member John Young commented that the district needs to face the reality they could be down from three high schools to two in a couple years.  Projected numbers show over 900 students leaving Christina but their Title I funding basically remains the same and their IDEA funding which comes from students with disabilities will actually go up.

This shows the students leaving the district are not necessarily those in most need: low-income and special needs.  As Christina hemorrhages students, they are left with financial numbers that are in dire straits.  School resource officers are being spread out among schools instead of one located at each, extra pay for extra responsibilities (EPER) has been drastically reduced, and classroom materials has been reduced by over 50%.

Discussion surrounding an interim superintenedent was chaotic at best, with Board President Harrie Ellen Minnehan starting the meeting with a very long monologue about how the board was unified, but the meeting showed they are anything but.  Minnehan referred to herself as “I” several times, much to the chagrin of other board members who felt out of the loop.  As the meeting stretched into the wee hours of the morning today, several board members actually left the board table for long stretches.  Minnehan, unsure of what the board had just voted for, actually said at one point “I guess we just passed a motion.”

Apparently, even public comment was in disarray with Minnehan cutting off a speaker and having the microphone turned off after the 3:00 minute mark for another.  Challenges of board policy went back and forth between Minnehan, Young and George Evans.  This board needs to unify once and for all before it is too late.  This district will be gone in two years time unless they are able to retain students and increase enrollment.

There was much discussion about the district’s  agreement with the Office of Civil Rights over discipline of minorities, which is now two years running.  From the agreement, the district has to have a vendor to oversee it, but the board was very concerned about the costs associated with this and the revelation that the main staff member who was overseeing much of this was placed in a different school.

Current Superintendent Dr. Freeman Williams, who announced he was going on personal leave last week, will be out at least another 11 weeks.  Prior to the meeting, rumors circulated that former Red Clay Consolidated School District Bob Andrzejewski would be appointed interim Superintendent, but members of the board felt they should not rush into a rash decision.  Discussion around qualifications of principals within the district and timing of the temporary hire took center stage.  The board will meet in a special meeting on August 20th to go over the qualifications and will plan from there.

A proposed board policy on parent opt-out passed it’s first read with six “yeas” and one abstention (George Evans, who was the sole no vote on the board’s opt-out resolution earlier in the year).

19 thoughts on “Budget Projections Place Christina In Jeopardy In A Year If Current Trends Continue

  1. Kavips? Glad to have me or kevin?

    Since you are here, I know I’m on the wrong thread, forgive me pleae, but I’m curious and don’t feel like tapping thru a million screens- So your slow drain theory – what happens when a charter does not have shareholders? Where does all the money go when its a delaware homegrown mom and pop charter?


  2. Thank you for posting this. I had to leave before the end, and I was wondering what the outcome was on a few things. I was waiting and hoping for an update from you! You didn’t let me down! 🙂


  3. Hey kev, you left out a couple details – like that the speaker minnehan cut off was you bc you articulating some very serious and untrue accusations about her. (Not her words here, these are mine). Show me concrete evidence of her going to the auditor and you could change my mind. In lieu of, the accusations are false. And I’d like to note that if any of the CSd board members know of fiscal misconduct they had better go rogue and report to the auditor. An internal investigation would be a fruitleSs.

    Oh, the saffer clock is programmed to Demic automatically at 3 minutes. Minnehan couldn’t control that.

    Wonder what else the audio will shed light upon?

    Thank you for going and sharing your interpretations.


    1. And how exactly would you know this Elizabeth? Because she told you this? Show me concrete evidence that she did not go to the state auditor. I stated she went to the state board, and then the state auditor. You fail to neglect that very important part. Furthermore, the State Board is required to notify the state auditor of any calls they get like that, and when they called them they had already been contacted by the Dynamic Duo. The State Auditor won’t come out and say who tipped them off, but unless the State Board is lying, then the Dynamic Duo are. Certain words were said to the State Board that they wouldn’t have direct knowledge of which I have been privy to. Therefore I am inclined to believe (can’t believe I’m saying this) the state board. Harrie Ellen could have come to be anytime during the past two weeks and shed light on this. She chose not to. So I chose to be transparent and name the two board members. Obviously this is something you are taking issue with because you happen to be friends with one of the individuals, but that can cloud judgment. I have no skin in this game.


    2. “The saffer clock is programmed to Demic automatically at 3 minutes.” I never heard that happen at Sarah Pyle, or any other board meeting I’ve been in attendance at in Delaware. If it’s programmed like that now, that’s because someone wanted it programmed like that. Who would that be?


      1. You are entitled to your opinion. And yes, I did ask minnehan and I believe her. I’ve never known her to tell a lie in her life. But, I also don’t think self reporting fiscal issues is a bad thing. If it’s true, whoever the duo is, god save them. Bc this type of sin shouldn’t be hidden inside board rooms (like family foundations tried to do.).

        As for the saffer clock – during my days, the clock could be disabled before a meeting. But, the board pres doesn’t have a button so he/she can just magically kill the mic.

        In this age of transparency, I think it’s a fair correction to make given all the allegations you’ve lodged against minnehan as of late.

        And don’t get all defensive on me. I like you. I just think sometimes you get fed really corrupt bs.


        1. Then maybe Harrie Ellen and Shirley should come to the next State Board of Education meeting next week and ask Dr. Gray and Donna Johnson about this matter to set the record straight.


  4. The person she cut off by turning off the microphone with no autority (she can gavel out a speaker but no where has the authority to stop the recording) was a taxpaying parent speaking about his concerns regarding the Talented and Gifted Task Force.

    Mrs. Minnehan shut him off, smiled at me and essentially declared she has no use for stakeholder input. It was a disgraceful act on her part.

    Very disappointing to have a Board President undermine your recording policy. I know that is not how you envisioned it.


  5. Also, the clock has NOT been programmed for 3 minutes for the VAST majority of the recording policy you moved and passed. Mrs. Minnehan clearly directed, against board policy, the operator to shut the mic off.



  6. John your assertion that the clock has not been set for the vast majority of the recording policy we moved and passed, is at least during my service, patently false. Back in the day, we ran the clock and chose to allow speakers to exceed three minutes. The mic went off but we let them speak. In violation of the board policy on public comment. We violated, you, me and the other five. What y’all have done since , I honestly don’t know.

    Has the policy been changed.? Did the board members announce they were setting aside the rules of public comment for the evening? is everyone angry bc she followed policy?

    What I am hearing is that the public should be angry w her when she allegedly doesn’t play by the rules and we should be doubly angry when she does!


  7. There is nothing in policy for terminating the microphone. The president can gavel out a speaker, with a reason and the speaker is to stop.It has rarely been enforced because, until now apparently, stakeholders were welcome to speak at CSD.

    Cutting off public input during a period of instability is poor judgement. In fact, cutting it off t all sends the wrong message to the speaker, and the audience about our willingness to listen.


  8. I wasn’t there but… you can certainly convey the tone of your comment and the most important points in three minutes. Write down your notes in advance and get organized. After three minutes nobody is listening anyway. If you have more than three minutes worth of details, put it in writing to each board member. There are plenty of bloggers who will publish such a letter for all to see.

    Really, the purpose of a public comment is to convey your basic point and more importantly, your level of passion. If you can do that your comment was successful. By design, public comments are not meant for extended argument, and for good reason.

    If you need to increase the impact of your statement, get three like-minded commenters to follow you – now your argument has twelve minutes.


      1. Here’s your policy: “The Board’s President shall halt public statements that are repetitive, vulgar, profane, or not germane to the matter before the Board. Upon the President’s striking of the gavel, any individual speaking publicly must immediately cease speaking. The President shall then explain the basis of the gaveling, and the individual shall not resume speaking until authorized by the President. By a majority vote, the Board may reverse the President’s determination that a public statement is repetitive, vulgar, profane, or not germane.”

        John, Regardless of whether the mic was intentionally cut or the clock was programmed to demic at 3 minutes – why didn’t you move to reverse the president’s alleged apparent determination of the comment?

        The power is not yielded solely by the pres, but rests in the quorum.


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