Family Foundations Major Modification Approved By State Board of Education, Potential Conflict Ahead?

On Thursday, the Delaware State Board of Education approved the major modification Family Foundations Academy submitted on June 30th.  Following the Charter School Accountability Committee’s final meeting on August 7th, a public hearing occurred on August 10th.  On August 20th, the CSAC approved the major modification.

The modification was approved for FFA to move it’s elementary school from it’s present location at 1101 Delaware Street in New Castle to 170 Lukens Drive in New Castle.  The 170 Lukens Drive has been home to the recently closed Reach Academy for Girls as well as the Pencader Business School which was shut down by the state two and a half years ago.  In addition, they will move their middle school from their former location in Newport at 1 Fallon Avenue in Newport to the former FFA elementary school location.  In the 2016-2017 school year, FFA will move it’s middle school to 160 Lukens Drive, the  other building where Reach and Pencader used to be and will sell the 1101  Delaware St. building.  If they sell the building sooner, the middle school will move to 160 Lukens Drive shortly afterwards.

The goal of the modification is enrollment expansion.  Currently both schools have enrollment up to 800 students.  This would allow them to expand to 1100 students.  Where this gets somewhat sticky is House Bill 56, passed by the 148th General Assembly in April of this year, and signed by Governor Markell on May 5th.  While this law put a moratorium on any new charter schools until 2018, it does not specifically mention major modifications with existing charter schools.  If a charter school is expanding, it may go against the law because the law specifically states:

“There shall be a moratorium on all new charter schools opening until June 30, 2018 or until the State Board of Education develops a strategic plan for the number of charter, district, and vocational-technical schools in the State, whichever occurs first. The aforementioned strategic plan shall be based on a systematic evaluation of educational needs using national models and best practices that align with the public education system, such as the National Association of Charter School Authorizers guidelines.”

By expanding their enrollment, FFA is throwing off the dynamic of existing charter schools and traditional school districts enrollment figures during this crucial time of transition with the current redistricting effort in Wilmington.  If Red Clay Consolidated takes Christina’s City of Wilmington schools, those schools may suffer from a decreased enrollment based on the actions of FFA.  The current Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities initiative, suggested by Governor Jack Markell in March, is enacting the Strategic Plan called for in House Bill 56.  The Delaware Department of Education must submit this report to the Governor, and they are anticipating its completion in November.

It would not shock me to see more charters submitting major modification requests in an effort to increase their enrollment before all is said and done.  At Gateway Lab School, the new principal and interim head of schools is a former assistant principal from East Side Charter School, Rebecca Brookings.  When FFA was under formal review last winter, East Side essentially took over the school from its prior leadership team and board.  With one of their key employees overseeing Gateway, some have expressed concern about the East Side Board of Directors and Dr. Lamont Browne beginning a charter consortium in New Castle County.  East Side, Kuumba Academy, Prestige Academy and Thomas Edison are all part of what is known as the Delaware Charter Collaborative, a consortium of charters that have their own teacher evaluation method outside of the DPAS-II used by every other school in Delaware.  How long until FFA and Gateway become a part of this consortium?  And what does it all mean for WEAC’s recommendation of a group to help manage the Wilmington charters?  The mysteries continue….

Updated, 10:03pm, 8/22/15: This article has been corrected to clarify Family Foundations Academy is NOT selling their 1 Fallon Ave. location because they do not own it. This is owned by St. Matthew’s Church.  But they will be selling the 1101 Delaware St. location.  Sorry for any confusion folks!

8 thoughts on “Family Foundations Major Modification Approved By State Board of Education, Potential Conflict Ahead?

  1. That is correct BAR. The Fallon Ave property is owned by St. Matthew’s church. The Delaware Street property is owned by FFA, but they more money on the property than it is worth. I’ve heard rumors as to what the plan is, but I don’t want to post it here. Kevin can email direct. There are some “conflicts” that will come to light, IF people are honest. I’m not so sure that this new board is any better than the prior board. They are all a bunch of sneaker mother f$%kers. I think the charter boards should be elected by the people, not by their attorney peers. Moreover, they should have to be residents of the State of Delaware. Hell, some of these people on these boards are from neighboring states. WHAT’S UP WIT DAT??? So people from PA are in charge of Delaware schools funded by Delaware tax dollars??? I think Rep Kim Williams ought to draft a bill to stop that bullshit practice. I pay Delaware taxes. I want a Delawarean in charge of how my Delaware tax dollars are being spent; not some jackass from Pennsylvania.

    Perhaps ALL Delaware reps and senators should consider drafting this legislation. I know for a fact that someone has already brought this up to Kim Williams, because the individual who told her, also shared that same opinion with me at the local diner.

    These charter schools have gotten out of hand. My daughter pulled her kids out of FFA. They are back in traditional pubic schools, but I still have my connection at FFA. Many of the staff left because of the nonsense. The remaining staff there is scared shitless. They are afraid to speak up because they fear they will be fired.

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    • Thanks for the clarification Roy. My thing is, if a school is increasing its enrollment, and they could surely get children from Wilmington, is that not just as disruptive as a new charter could be?

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  2. Pingback: Family Foundations Financial Fiasco Timeline | Exceptional Delaware

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