Since last Winter, the fate of the three Christina School District Priority Schools has been in limbo. While threats from the Delaware Department of Education and Governor Markell were thrown against the district if they did not comply with the Memorandum of Understanding, a last minute miracle seemed to rise in the form of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee. Their suggestion of taking the Christina schools currently in Wilmington and transferring them to Red Clay put a freeze on the Christina Priority Schools. They are still priority schools, but the plans are not really moving forward as they are in the Red Clay Consolidated School District.
On Tuesday, at the Delaware Education Support System Advisory Council (DESS), Kristin Dwyer with the Delaware School Education Association (DSEA) posed a question to the Chief Officer of Accountability and Assessment at the Delaware DOE. To paraphrase: What happens if the redistricting effort doesn’t go through? Penny Schwinn said this is a question on many folks mind at the Delaware DOE. She said the schools are eligible to receive funding this year, but did not go into details about what the terms of that “eligibility” is. She said she felt uncomfortable giving a firm answer to this without the blessing of Interim Secretary of Education, Dr. Steven Godowsky. But she did say this will be a topic of conversation between the two in the next couple weeks.
Dwyer indicated that the unique situation with the Christina Priority Schools does not match with the proposed language in Regulation 103 to which Schwinn nodded in agreement. While the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission continues to have meeting after meeting, time is rapidly running out for them to come up with a firm plan that will have adequate funding and resources for this initiative. There is a lot of talk, and some good ideas, but nothing is set in place at this point. If the redistricting effort falls apart, I can foresee a scenario where the DOE and Markell go back to their status quo before the WEAC recommendations and begin the bullying tactics again. In my opinion, Christina thwarted the DOE and Markell at their intimidation efforts and made the DOE and Markell look very bad in the process. The whole process created a fire in teachers, parents, and communities in Wilmington and they do not trust the DOE as a result.