Breaking News: Delaware DOE Wants To Revoke Charter Of Delaware STEM Academy

The Delaware Charter School Accountability Committee had their final meeting with the Delaware STEM Academy on June 2nd.  The report came out tonight.  Prognosis: Don’t open the charter school!  The main reason for their formal review was very low enrollment numbers.  How low?  They had 105 students enrolled when they went on formal review a month and a half ago.  In the 45 days since… a whopping 124 according to the below report.  Their charter calls for 250 students.  They had to meet 80% of that.  They are a bit under 50%.

I think the time has come to say we are getting “chartered out” in Delaware.  This isn’t to say they aren’t popular and are growing.  But new charters?  Not so much.  Out of the more recent charter school openings, I would have to say Great Oaks and First State Military School are doing well.  Delaware Design-Lab is going through some growing pains.  Delaware Met got the heave-ho before they could start a third marking period.  Mapleton Charter School at Whitehall was going to move to Dover, but then backed out of that so they would need to reapply if they ever figure out what they are doing.  And now Delaware STEM Academy.  On top of Pencader, Moyer, and Reach Academy for Girls closing.  And Delaware College Prep will close it’s doors at the end of this month.  While this isn’t related at all, I did notice the State Board has not approved any new charters in Delaware since I started blogging just about two years ago…

The State Board of Education bit off more than they could chew when they approved all the new charter schools in 2013 and 2014.  We are seeing what happens when there are too many charter schools, especially in upper New Castle County.  As local districts beef up their programs, there are only so many students that can be choiced out of a school district.  And after Delaware Met, parents up there have to a be a bit cautious.  I am glad to see the Charter School Accountability Committee asking the right questions.  These are things we need to see from the State Board of Education when they vote on new charters.

The final report from the Charter School Accountability Committee is below.  Delaware STEM Academy will have their last public hearing tomorrow night.  Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky will make his recommendation to the State Board of Education at the June 16th meeting.  At that point, the State Board of Education will vote to revoke the school’s charter or let them open.  My gut says revocation.  The enrollment is just too low and everything in the below report doesn’t leave much room for error…

 

After-School SAIL Program Stuck In Harbor

The Delaware SAIL program, the legislation created by Valerie Longhurst is dead in the water, at least for this General Assembly.  As per the latest email from the Delaware House Democrats…

SAIL Program Put on Hold

With the state facing a multi-million-dollar budget shortfall requiring many difficult cuts, House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst on Thursday announced she would put on hold her bill to create a new afterschool program providing homework help, enrichment activities and an extended school meal plan.

The program, dubbed the Statewide Afterschool Initiative Learning (SAIL) Program, was designed to help students become more effective learners and achieve better outcomes both in and outside their classrooms. However, House Bill 240 carried a $7 million price tag. Even with a drafted amendment to make it a pilot program and decrease the cost, Rep. Longhurst said Delaware’s budget crunch necessitated hard decisions.

“I am committed to creating a quality afterschool program that will keep kids engaged, boost attendance and enhance literacy, improving the likelihood that our students will stay in school and earn their diplomas,” said Rep. Longhurst, who sits on the board of directors for the Bear-Glasgow YMCA and Police Athletic League of Delaware.

“However, when I look at the full picture of our budget, I know we cannot afford it this year. It’s hard to ask for money for this program when we simply don’t have the funds for many basic state functions and have to make tough cuts across state government. This was a really difficult decision because I have seen firsthand the need to increase children’s access to quality afterschool programs.”

As part of the move to put a hold on HB 240, Rep. Longhurst also announced her intention to create a task force including afterschool stakeholders that would review afterschool programs in Delaware; how funds are spent; how to target children not currently being served; and how to best close those gaps.