Jack Wells Shows Red Clay Support Salaries Far Exceed Any District In Delaware… And They Need More Money?

I really have to catch up on my email!  Jack Wells sent another Red Clay money email and this one is very illuminating:

The information provided below shows the  spending on salaries for Supervisors General Support by the Red Clay School Board.  This type of spending is an example of why Delaware Ranks 40th in Education and 14th in “Total Current Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Day Schools per students.  Does anyone except the members of  Red Clay School Board believe this is the most effective use of $3.1 million dollars?

How is it possible that one district, in this case Red Clay can spend more on salaries for Supervisors General Support than all the school districts in either Kent or Sussex Counties, over a million dollars.  It is possible because in Delaware  providing local school boards the authority to spend public funds without any oversight, without being required to provide justification or without any requirement to inform the residents is more important than  ensuring $2.4 Billion annually is used effectively so our children will receive the greatest opportunity to receive the best education possible.  

Spending          Percent of

       On           Salaries Funded

   Salaries       From State Funds

       95,503           70.9           Appoquinimink

1,024,330         35.7               BSD

1,222,845         47.5               CSD

   666.990         28.1               Colonial

   722,523         53.0               NCCVT

3,197,002         18.1               RCCSD

6,929,193        Total

 

   469,018        52.2               Cape Henlopen

   103,309        80.5               Delmar

  469,057        56.9               IRSD

   170,777        37.5               Laurel

   643,009        36.3               Seaford

     78,617        54.0               Sussex Tech

   314,969        46.0               Woodbridge

2,248,756   Total

  

   525,104       70.0               Caesar Rodney

   600,593       66.9               Capital

   418,992       40.3               Lake Forest

     24,705       82.1               Milford

   217,755       42.7               Poly Tech

  275,040       86.1               Smyrna

2,962,189      Total

 

While the money of the hard working taxpayers are wasted, it is the “children” who are denied the opportunities to receive the best education possible.  Unfortunately power to the school boards is more important than education opportunities.  

How and where are we expending over $2.4 billion annually for the education of our children?  Since Delaware is ranked 40th in Education and 14th in total current expenditures, you would think, my question would be the battle cry of our education decision makers, unfortunately their battle cry is, we need more money if you want us to fund our schools based on the needs of our children.

Here is where in just 2 account codes, the Red Clay School Board expended $14,498,184 in 2014-2015, an increase of $12,479,933 over 2006-2007.  I believe if our legislators are going to do what is best for our children, than they must require the Red Clay School Board to provide an explanation/justification for this spending.  Unfortunately in Delaware, school boards are authorized to spend millions without justification or informing the community.  

     Total                    Total                Increase         % Salaries    Federal Funds

Compensation  Compensation           in                Funded by      Expended

  6/30/2014            6/30/2006      Expenditures  State Funds     6/30/2014

 4,571,712              2,018,251          2,553,461         18.1              2,858,733       Supervisors

 9,926,472                  none               9,926,472         29.6              2,709,089       Salaries General

14,498,184              2,018,251        12,479,933                               5,567,822

 

Comments:

A.      The job title Salaries General was created when our state implemented the Statewide Financial Management System. It was created to be used by our school boards when they create positions that are not identified by the State.  When I compared the old and new system, the only positions I could identify that were deleted were those used for transportation. Those implementing the new system did not want the public to know the cost of transportation. Why would they not want the public to know the cost of transportation? Answer: Those making the decision did not want the public to know how many millions were/are being expended on transportation for activities.

B.      Except for bus drivers and bus aides I believe most of the employees being charged to Salaries General work above the school level, in any case they are not teachers, paraprofessionals, and other school level employees. The districts salary scales show positons like Education Associate with 6 digit salaries that are not identified by the state.  The board establishes these 6 digit salaries without providing justification or informing the residents. I strongly oppose allowing 4 elected officials to create these positions and these salaries without justification or informing the community, NOW THAT IS POWER OVER PUBLIC FUNDS.

C.      The percent of state funding supporting these positions clearly show Red Clay has determined more overhead is required than determined by the state, once again no justification required.

D.      Expending $5,567,822 from federal funds that are mostly earned by our low income and special needs children, than informing the community, we have no money to fund the needs of our schools, requires an explanation.  Why are these funds not being used to hire employees for our schools? 

We have a choice, continue to allow school boards to spend money without justification and without informing the community, or require accountability on how and where districts are using $2.4 billion annually. I vote for accountability. Why? That is what is best for our children.

Being ranked 40th in Education and 14th in Total Current Expenditures is a disgrace.  Is this the best we can do for our children, if so, shame on us.

Jack Wells

 

Are Red Clay’s Administrative Costs Out Of Control?

A gentleman by the name of Jack Wells, a frequent commenter on Kilroy’s Delaware, has been hammering at Red Clay Consolidated School District for years over their administrative costs.  He makes my charter school financial stuff look weak in comparison!  I tend to focus on the Department of Education’s finances, but one of the major complaints I hear in Delaware is how administrative costs are out of control.  Every school district and charter school in Delaware should have a Jack Wells looking out for these types of things.

What has Mr. Wells upset right now?  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan.  More specifically, the clause indicating the Red Clay board may raise taxes without a referendum…

 

  1. Chart 1 shows total state, federal and local funds received by the district during the period 2006/07 through 2013/14 as reported by our State’s Department of Education.  {Excludes 2 special schools.}
  2. Chart 2 shows the same information for the period 2006/07 through 2015/16, figures for 2015/16 were taken from the districts 2015/16 Budget. {DDOE has not published revenue information since 2013-2014.}

 

%                                                   %

State        Total          Fed             Local        Total       Total

116,745,319  54.82    14,604,025   81,607,040   38.32  212,956,384  2013/14

113,643,134  62.06    11,867,910   57,580,215   31.44  183,091,259  2006/07

3,102,185  10.38      2,736,115   24,026,825   80.45    29,865,125  Total Increase

 

119,089,298   53.44   11,747,926   92,107,040   41.33  222,844,264  2015/16

113,643,134   62.06   11,867,910   57,580,215   31.44  183,091,259  2006/07

5,446,164   13.70  {-} 219,984   34,526,825   86.85    39,753,005  Total Increase

 

These charts show that in 2006-2007 the state provided 62.06% of the revenue and the property owners provided 31.44%, eight years later the state was providing only 53.44 percent, property owners 41.33%, and the districts delinquent school taxes had skyrocketed. During this period the state cut funding to our schools while continuing to fund overhead in our districts and DDOE. The fact are clear, funding overhead is a priority over funding our schools.

In 2014 after property owners provided the district an additional $24,026,825, that represented 80.45 percent of the total increase in revenue.  The Board than told community, if you do not approve increasing your current operating tax rate by 19.97 percent, we will have to terminate teachers, paraprofessionals, activities, etc.,  To prevent these cuts, the community approved increasing the tax rate, than the board voted to deny property owners the right to vote to raise the tax rate.

Chart two includes the additional $10.5 million received this year as a result of the rate increase, since the increased tax rate will be phrased in over 3 years, local revenue with continue to increase. Since the referendum was approved, the district built a new 600 student K-5 school, regular and special enrollment student declined, regular units decreased while special education Div. I Units increased. {Chart below shows changes in enrollment and units.}

Regular      Units   Special  Units

Enrollment  Earned  Needs  Earned

14,364        777       2175      309     2014

13,925        752       2169      321     2016

{-}439   {-}  25     {-}  6        12

When property owners provide 86.85 % of the total increase in revenue, and the Board still has insufficient revenue to provide funding for ELL and low income children, the board has a major problem.  Rather than doing a review on how and where funds were being used by program, and than allocating funding by priority, the WEIC, the board and the boards Community Financial Review Committee recommended doing away with referendums and authorizing the board to raise taxes.  NOW THAT IS A SLAP IN THE FACE TO THE PROPERTY OWNERS, SHOCKING.

I strongly oppose providing the Red Clay School Board authority to raised local taxes without a referendum and wonder why after the property owners provided 86.85% of all the additional revenue, they determined it was necessary to do away with referendums. NOW THAT IS VERY TROUBLING. 

Jack Wells

As a taxpayer, I would find this very troubling.  Charter school and DOE finances are tough enough to figure out, but Mr. Wells brings up many valid points concerning district funds and spending.  I know Christina had to make a lot of sacrifices when their referendums didn’t pass last year.  Teachers lost jobs or were sent to other schools.  Some board members even turned in their district-paid cell phones last summer.  But I also know there are several districts with folks making over $100,000 across the state.  If the Every Student Succeeds Act actually does give more state and local control and less fed mandates, does this mean there would no longer be a need for so much district administration?  Or would it actually increase?  Dare I actually crack the yolk of district funding?  I think Brian Stephan from Delaware Liberal (who is on the Citizens Budget Oversight Committee in the Christina School District) and Jack Wells should hold a forum on district spending!

I plan on sharing a lot of Mr. Well’s material (with his permission) since it is so brilliant!  What do you think?  I would love to hear from some district admins, especially in Red Clay, about their side of this.  It is a conversation that is not going to go away.  One big takeaway I have from all this is that Jack Markell can talk education all he wants, but in his administration, the percentage of funding to education has actually gone down percentage-wise.  Jack Markell likes to talk big, but he leaves it up to the districts and yes, even the charters, to carry more of the financial burden for his (not-so) moments of brilliance.

The Leap

Today is Leap Day.  Every four years, except for a millennium, Earth adds an extra day to its calendar.  Apparently, it takes 365.25 days for Earth to revolve around the sun.  To make up for that .25, we get an extra day every four years.  It is also Superman’s birthday.  I remember four years ago, when my son attended a Delaware charter school, a classmate of his had a birthday on Leap Day.  He was turning two that year since he only had two birthdays.  The things kids believe!

My first Leap Year was 1972.  I was two, so I don’t remember anything.  In 1976, I was in Kindergarten in Syracuse, New York with Mr. McKinney.  I wanted to be a detective when I was older.  1980 brought us the Lake Placid Winter Olympics when the USA beat Russia.  I didn’t watch the final game because I was salivating over my Wacky Pack stickers.  I wanted to be a doctor when I was older.  In 1984, I was most likely not doing what I was supposed to be doing: homework, studying, chores.  What can I say, I was a rebellious young teenager!  My dreams of becoming a doctor went up in smoke when I saw an elderly man have a heart attack in Stop & Shop one day.  1988 was my Senior year of high school.  It was a good year, but also full of angst wondering what the future was going to hold.  I was going to major in business.  In 1992, I was in my final year at community college looking forward to transferring to Cabrini College in the fall.  I was going to finish college by 1994 with  an English/Communications degree.  In 1996, I had just moved to Sweden.  Literally.  I had sold most of my comic book collection and lived in a small town outside of Stockholm called Tullinge.  I didn’t work the first couple months I lived there.  There was no leap year in 2000 because it was a millennium year, but I was working at Chase Mortgage doing loss mitigation work.  2004’s Leap Day was definitely full of curiosity.  My wife was due with our son in a month and I couldn’t wait to see him!  Still at Chase.  In 2008, I was unemployed on Leap Day.  Luckily, it didn’t last long.  2012, the last Leap Day before this one, I was working two jobs and rarely had time for anything outside of work.  I was at my current job and also working as a paraprofessional at Campus Community School.  Which brings us to 2016 and today.

My point behind all of this, nobody knows for sure what they want to do with their life.  Some do, those who have exceptional drive and motivation.  Not everyone has that.  But our Governor and the Delaware DOE seem to think every child should know what they are going to do when they are “career ready”.  If not, the test scores will determine that and they will make sure you are put on a fast track to that career.  It isn’t right.  People need the freedom to stretch their own wings and figure things out for themselves.

 

 

Something Doesn’t Add Up With National PTA’s Intimidation Letter To Delaware PTA…

PTABullying

I was thinking about this a lot the past two days.  Since I posted the National PTA “Comply Or We Will Make You” letter to the Delaware PTA, something didn’t feel quite right.  Was it the absolute absurdity and gall of National PTA, or the timing of it?

The Delaware PTA heavily advocated House Bill 50, the Delaware opt-out legislation that our cowardly weasel of a Governor vetoed last July.  When an attempt  to have our legislators do the right thing and override Markell’s veto, the Delaware PTA staged a rally outside of Legislative Hall in Dover.  This was a month and a half ago.  The very next week, the Delaware PTA announced National PTA would be coming out with a position statement against opt-out very soon.  They did so in the beginning of February.

Let us flash forward to last Wednesday.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission has their post-State Board meeting where State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray is grilled and served on a plate by Wilmington school districts and members of the Commission.  State Board Executive Director Donna Johnson is most likely highly embarrassed about the allegation she advised State Board members how to vote on the WEIC plan.  The very next day, President of Delaware PTA Dr. Terri Hodges gets the comply or die letter from Laura Bay, the President of National PTA.  Right before the assessment inventory meeting at the Delaware Department of Education.  Right before.  As she walks into the meeting, handouts are provided to the committee and members of the public.  One of them is the National PTA position statement on assessment and opt-out.  It was a very odd choice for a hand-out.  Especially since it was NEVER discussed at all during the meeting.  Dr. Hodges attended the previous meeting, and I’m sure the DOE knew some type of Delaware PTA representation would attend the meeting.  I’m not coming right out and saying this, but I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.

Yes, the National PTA did issue the position statement against opt-out.  For what reasons, I absolutely cannot fathom.  But Kilroy’s Delaware did present something very interesting today in regards to National PTA President Laura Bay.  It turns out she is the coördinator for assessment and instruction in her Washington school district.  And she essentially runs National PTA.  But was there some outside influence to have Bay pull a sword on Delaware PTA?

We have January and February of 2016 as two key months with a lot of Delaware PTA/National PTA/State Board of Education/Delaware DOE/WEIC activity.  All involving some very key players in this very bizarre game of Russian Roulette with parental choices.  Add in some referendums, priority schools, and redistricting and we have a huge mess on our hands!

In the backdrop of it all: a very power-hungry Delaware Governor Jack Markell and John King, the very controversial figure at the US Department of Education who is hoping to become the next US Secretary of Education instead of Acting.  Surrounding all of this is the massive tome called the Every Student Succeeds Act.  The mammoth legislation that has not been clearly defined but will in the coming months when the US DOE begins issuing regulations around it.  To make matters more complicated, this will be going on during most state’s testing windows for their state assessments, including the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware.  Also during an election year.

The bridge between Delaware PTA and National PTA has one person on both sides: Yvonne Johnson.  She serves as the Vice-President of Advocacy for Delaware PTA and is a board member of National PTA.  The Governor was not pleased with the Delaware PTA’s defense of House Bill 50 at all.  The Delaware PTA has some choices ahead of them.  Fight, submit, or secede.  None will be easy decisions.  Secession is not an easy thing.  Fighting could result in major issues for them.  Submit will assuredly permanently scar the organization that has made a name for itself over the past year by supporting a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware.  Dr. Hodges is not one to surrender quietly.  This will definitely be something to watch over the coming months.  Perhaps a little push is in order…