First off, I don’t think any charter school that has not even opened should be getting a “performance award”. They haven’t done anything yet. Second of all, it is obvious their “long-term” strategy for this school didn’t work as they are closing a little over a month after they opened. Third, if they don’t, I know at least two legislators who will be screaming foul on this. And rightly so. Finally, they should openly, honestly, and with great transparency return ALL unused funds immediately.
|$250,000||$175,000||High-quality plans for start-up or expansion; AND Serve high-need students||Start-Up Costs||Funds may not be used for marketing materials or mentor appreciation/exhibition events||No|
In the above chart, it was taken straight from the 2015-2016 list of Charter School Performance Award winners. They requested $250,000 for “start-up” costs, even though they already received $250,000 from the Longwood Foundation in 2014. They won the $175,000 out of the $250k requested. In their application for the performance fund the school stated they needed a special education coordinator in the amount of $46,000.00 to “ensure we can meet the needs of our high IEP student population“. Don’t federal funds coming under the IDEA-B allocation already cover that need based on how many special education students they already have? This means the school already knew they would be having a lot of students with disabilities and they had not even hired a coordinator as of July 7th of this year, a month and a half before they opened.
The big question is where these funds even come from. Do they come from the DOE, or somewhere else in the Delaware Government? If you look at Delaware Online Checkbook, it shows them receiving $39.83 in revenue this year. These are funds that have already been sent to these schools. So where is the money and where did it go to? Why isn’t it being reported by the state?
To be on the safe side, I checked Kuumba Academy who received $425,000 last year as their charter school performance fund. This was announced after Fiscal Year 2015 started. Even though the budget states the charter school performance fund comes from the General Fund, since the funds are allocated to a specific purpose (i.e. a special education coordinator), it would then go the Special Fund once the General Fund sends funds to that allocation. In the bill for Fiscal Year 2015, on page 59 of this pdf: Senate Bill 225 Final FY2015 Budget it shows $1.5 million allocated to the charter school performance fund, coming out of the General Fund. But Kuumba shows no revenue in their General Fund for FY2015 on Delaware Online Checkbook. So it had to come out of what is called the special fund. But the only special fund items listed with an amount higher than $425,000 are “Donation Contributions” of which Kuumba received $1,671,735.39. $500,000 of that was a donation from the Longwood Foundation at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2015. And in their May 2015 board meeting minutes, Kuumba’s board announced they were getting another $1 Million from them as well. So that is $1.5 million alone in their “Donation Contributions” section which is the only place $425,000 could have possibly gone. But it doesn’t fit with $1.5 million being donated by Longwood, so where is it?
Even though the Delaware MET is showing less than $40.00 in revenue, that doesn’t mean the $175,000 wasn’t sent to them. It’s just a question of where, in the maze that is Delaware funding, the hell it is. This charter school performance fund is one of the abominations that sprang out of House Bill 165 during the first half of the 147th General Assembly back in 2013. Maybe the 2nd half of the 148th General Assembly can get rid of this monstrous waste in taxpayer funds by next June, and save the state some semblance of money.