Breaking News: Secretary Godowsky Is Changing Funding Formula So Charter Schools Will Get More School District Money

Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky is about to set off an education war unlike any Delaware has ever seen.  If you thought the school district vs. charter school war was loud before, you haven’t seen anything yet.

In Title 14, the Delaware Secretary of Education has the authority to change the local cost per pupil.  When a student choices out of their feeder pattern, or their local school district, a portion of that school district’s local funds follows the student to the charter school.  To keep things in perspective, no Delaware Secretary of Education has touched this formula in the past 15-20 years.  There are slight increases each year based on inflation, but they are nominal in comparison to what Godowsky is about to do.

For big districts like Red Clay and Christina, this will hurt them… bad.  Any local school district that sends funds to charter schools will be affected by this decision.  Every school in Delaware already created their FY2017 budget months ago.  Each school district and charter set their budget on the expected number of students they anticipate having.  This was based on the same formula that has been in use for years and years.  When a district has a referendum, the funds generated from that referendum are earmarked for certain things.  Godowsky found a way to circumvent those funds to directly benefit charter schools in Delaware.

On August 8th, Secretary Godowsky sent all the Chief Financial Officers of each district a letter.  He asked them to list all of their restricted and unrestricted funds in their local budgets.  Restricted funds are not used in the calculation for money going to charter schools or other choice schools out of district.  These cover many things, like building maintenance, consultants, and food services as a few examples.  These are district expenses that only affect the district.  These aren’t services the student would bring to the new school.  The school the student choices to should already have those services.  Godowsky is moving budget allocations that were previously in restricted over to unrestricted.  By changing the way this is done, charter schools will get more money while districts will have less.  How much more?  It will differ between district and how much local money they have.  Even though Christina choices out more students, Red Clay has more money in their local share based on their tax base.  But the districts will bleed.  A lot of money.  From what I’m hearing it could be anywhere from 10-15% more money going to the charters, depending on the district.  Millions and millions of dollars.  This won’t just be a Red Clay and Christina thing.  Think Colonial, Brandywine, Appoquinimink, Smyrna, Capital, Caesar Rodney, Indian River… these districts will feel the pain as well.  Any district that sends dollars to charters will send more.

So when your kid comes home from school this year in school districts, don’t be shocked to see something cut that you thought they would have already had.  For charter school parents, they will be happy when their kid gets some new things they might not have had before.  In other words, charter schools will be getting more while districts will be getting less.  This will be in the double-digit millions.  I don’t have exact amounts yet.  But if your district pays a decent amount of money to charter schools, they will be paying a lot more.

Secretary Godowsky didn’t just wake up one day and say “I’m going to change the local cost per pupil formula this year!”  This wasn’t even his idea.  For this, we can thank the folks at Newark Charter School.  When Christina won their third attempt at a referendum last March, the school immediately pounced on Christina for more money.  Everyone wants more money, but Newark Charter School is relentless with their greed.  Immediately after the referendum, their board discussed a meeting that was about to take place:

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This trio from the bastion of discrimination and cherry-picking in Delaware, good old Newark Charter School, is Head of School Greg Meece, Board President Steven Dressel, and their Chief Financial Officer, Joanne Schlossberg.  The Superintendent of the Christina School District, in an Acting Superintendent role, is Robert Andrzejewski.  The Associate Secretary of Education is David Blowman.  This was in April of this year, a month after Christina passed their referendum.  Ironically, Newark Charter School’s May board minutes seem to have disappeared.  I did read these board minutes when they came out, but I don’t recall specifics (I should have saved them).  I know there was a lot of discussion about the school refinancing their bonds.  In looking at Christina Board minutes and listening to their audio recordings, I did not see or hear any mention of “Bob A”, as their Superintendent is frequently referred to, and this strange group of people meeting.  I would like to publicly, right here, right now, ask Bob A what happened at this meeting and be prepared to discuss at their next Board of Education meeting on September 20th.  You don’t get a skate out of Christina free card Bob A.

Bob A did have a meeting with Newark Charter School earlier this year.  He asked Meece to support Christina’s upcoming referendum.  Meece flat-out refused.  Even though their charter school directly benefits from Christina School District with their five mile radius requirement for students.  Even Governor Markell and Senator David Sokola supported the referendum.  Which was a bit unusual.  But even that mystery will be cleared soon.

Meece, backed by the Delaware Charter Schools Network I’m sure, successfully lobbied the Secretary of Education to change the local cost per pupil formula.  By Delaware law, the Secretary of Education has up until September 1st of each year to do this.  But if this wasn’t the final straw, get ready, cause it gets worse.  Several sources are telling me this won’t just go into affect for this school year.  Godowsky wants districts to pay for last year based on the new formula.

Districts are at a loss.  They are in a frenzy and searching other possible remedies to address this education funding catastrophe.  When was this decision made?  I don’t have the answer to that one…yet…but I’m working on it.  It has been in play since April according to the Newark Charter School May Board minutes.  David Blowman, as the former Deputy Secretary of Education until earlier this year, oversaw the Charter School Office at the Delaware DOE.  Since their Executive Director left in June, Blowman has been taking on the responsibilities as the authority figure in that area of the DOE until they find a replacement for Jennifer Nagourney.

I have to imagine that Meece had other help with this as well.  Something this high up and controversial would have to fly by Governor Markell.  I have no doubt in my mind Meece’s legislative buddy Dave Sokola had a hand in this as well.  Things like this don’t happen in a vacuum. I imagine the Delaware DOE will have to announce this by September 1st since this is the deadline for the Secretary to make these decisions.

This will create a war between school districts, charter schools, the DOE, the State Board of Education, and the Delaware Charter Schools Network unlike anything seen before.  If this change in the way districts pay charters goes through, expect a lot of hardship on districts.  Expect boons for charters.  You will have to pick a side.  You can’t sit there and stay neutral.  Every Delaware candidate for public office is going to face this question.  This isn’t going to be a situation where both sides can come to the table and stay neutral.  This move by Godowsky is the knife in the back that will cause outrage.

All because one little man hates the Christina School District so much, and he continually runs his “great” school.  The same school that continually benefits from the laws Delaware Senator David Sokola creates every single year.  And from what I’m hearing, Sokola isn’t the only candidate running for office that is getting support from Newark Charter School.  But the actions of this one little man will affect an entire state.  If you thought the funding issues for the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting plan were rough before, get ready for this whole thing to take on a whole new level.

I wrote earlier today about this with cryptic words.  But make no mistake, Governor Jack Markell is leaving this in the lap of John Carney to deal with.  Markell doesn’t give a crap about Delaware education.  He has proven this time and time again.  This is just one more of his final revenge tactics before he leaves office (he will have more if Jack lives up to his true self).  Markell hates Christina.  Watching him in the video supporting the district for their referendum… he looked like he would rather have a root canal.  But it was very important their referendum passed.  Which was why Sokola also supported it.  If their referendum failed, Meece wouldn’t have been able to get the opportunity for his huge money grab.

This will affect every public school district student in the state.  For years, education reformers true goals have been to privatize education.  They found a very successful way to do it with charter schools.  They suck money out of local districts until they are gone in some cities.  But this time, I believe Meece overreached.   The reputation of charter schools as greedy, money-sucking vampires of local school districts is now set in stone.  All because of Meece.  Remember this moment.  Remember who started all of this.

District parents… I invite you all to attend the September State Board of Education meeting on September 15th.  The meeting begins at 1pm at the Townsend Building in Dover.  Bring picket signs protesting Godowsky’s actions.  Give public comment and demand the State Board of Education take action on this abuse of power.  Make your voice heard.  Go to your local school district board meetings and tell them to not send this money to the charter schools.  Go to the charter school board meetings and tell them they can’t get more while their children get less.  I have no doubt the charter side will make a lot of noise.  But only 10-12% of Delaware students go to charters.  We have the numbers.  We have the louder voice.  And we have more voting power.  Find out which legislators support the district side and which support the charter side.  If they tell you they support both, they are useless.  This war will demand strength in leadership.

When the dust settles on this, there will be casualties.  The question that remains is how much more students have to suffer because of stupid little men like Greg Meece.  We can’t tolerate this as a state any longer.  We can’t have a third of our state budget benefitting charter schools and allowing our kids in school districts to suffer because of them.  This has to change.  The war began a long time ago, but take a side.  And get ready to rumble!

I will be updating this story with new articles as they come out.  This is going to be a long Autumn.  With this action, Secretary Godowsky will replace Secretary Mark Murphy as the most reviled Delaware Secretary of Education in our entire history as a state.

 

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40 thoughts on “Breaking News: Secretary Godowsky Is Changing Funding Formula So Charter Schools Will Get More School District Money

    1. Sadly, it appears this was done without any true legislative input at all. That isn’t to say I don’t think some of them knew about this. But the ones on the good side… they would have made a lot of noise about this.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Because as much influence as Meece seems to think he has, he would never publicly support Christina. It isn’t in his DNA. He is arrogant and condescending and manipulative. Not to be trusted at all.

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      1. Your response is not based in fact. It appears you have a personal grudge against Meece. You cannot say on one hand that he managed to strongarm Godowsky into changing the formula, and then on the other say that he seems to “think” he has much influence. I don’t see why NCS would not support a referendum from which they would benefit. In fact, my take on it is that Meece presented a neutral stance. NCS parents supported it in large numbers. CSD officials were like toddlers having tantrums over a cookie.

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        1. I assume you are somehow affiliated with NCS. That is the elitist kind of thing that burns people about NCS in a big way. I have never even met Greg Meece, so I couldn’t tell you how he is as a person. As a state employee, running a highly controversial school with demographics like only one other charter in the state, that I very much am offended by.

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          1. Let me guess – Greg Meece wouldn’t hire you at NCS? Or your kids didn’t get in…?
            This article is full of hate but little fact. How about providing factual based data rather than your rants on why we should all hate charter schools.

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          2. First off, use one name and stick to it. I don’t tolerate people using different names in a rushed effort to get approved out of moderation. Second of all, I’m at work today. Third, I have never applied to NCS, nor would I ever want to. What you perceive as hate is actually fact. Demographics don’t lie. Neither does the social engineering that goes into this school’s application process. If you read the article, I stated I don’t know which funds are moving from restricted to unrestricted in the district’s budgets. Do you know?

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          3. Again you make assumptions without any facts. And you state that you cannot tell how he is a person, right after saying he is arrogant, condescending and manipulative, and cannot be trusted. Then you called me an elitist without knowing a thing about me. So much for having an open exchange of opinions. I guess time will tell if any of the “facts” you’ve reported are, in fact, true. In the meantime, you will believe what you will.

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          4. I changed my name only because I decided to use my middle name – sorry to offend you. Anyway, when i say I hear hate from you I am referring to you repeatedly referring to Greg Meece as “the little man”. Again I haven’t heard any facts that are supported by any sources in your rant.

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          5. No apology needed. I had to leave another comment in moderation because of something very personal and nasty, so I was in a bit of a foul mood after that. My apologies.

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  1. With groups like Rodel lobbying with seemingly unending funds, it’s highly likely many will sell their support no matter how many voters there are; they have the lobbyists and the money that travels with them in their wallets around the offices at Legislative Hall.

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  2. What exactly is being moved from restricted to unrestricted? Oh and Mercedes definitely supported the css referendum. Sent emails with info on why’s it’s needed and encouraging all to support it.

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      1. You said he did NOT support it. Now you agree he did? Why should he have done so publicly and how would you and others have twisted it if he had? CSD shamelessly solicited votes in a myriad of ways. So, are they to be disparaged for the “money grab” as well?

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        1. Well golly gee KatH, why in God’s name would a district try to solicit votes in a referendum? I’m going by what you said, that he did. Don’t try to play word games and twist words. I get it, you’re obviously affiliated with the school in some way, so obviously would try to defend it. Let me reclarify so you understand succinctly what I am saying. I don’t know Greg Meece personally. I don’t hang out with him, play golf with him, or drink beers with him. He could be a heck of a nice guy in that setting. I am talking about his time as a state employee of Delaware. I am talking about his professional life, as Head of School at NCS. From what I’ve seen, he is all those things. Once again, not saying that as his role as a human being. And I was referring to another commenter about using different names. Why should have supported the referendum publicly? I don’t know. Maybe as a sign of good faith and willing to patch things up w/CSD. Instead, he went for the money grab. It’s in your own board minutes. Not those exact words, but I know how people operate at that level with the DOE. I spend a lot of time in Dover, so I see and hear a lot of things. Try to sit there and tell me NCS doesn’t benefit immensely from the DOE. Please try…

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          1. Of course NCS benefits – did I ever say they don’t? And why shouldn’t they? We ALL pay taxes for ALL students. ALL students should benefit from DOE, no? And of course the district will solicit votes. You missed my point. Meece is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t by those who oppose charters and specifically NCS.
            So, while I get that we will not agree, I’ve been respectful in commenting and simply asked for facts versus opinion, and you’ve been condescending (golly gee) and called me elitist. (Also, it was another commenter who said Meece solicited support for the referendum).

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          2. It’s been a rough day for all of us. I don’t mind having discussions about education funding. But this was obviously NOT the way for Greg to try to force the issue. It wouldn’t have turned out well for ALL students, charter or district. A blitzkrieg change in how this stuff is paid out the first week of school, after districts and their boards have approved their budgets based on the old funding… that wasn’t a smart move. And some would say if NCS wants “equal” funding, they should have “equal” demographics. I know that isn’t something a lot of NCS parents like to hear, but it is a very valid point. I get why parents want to go to NCS. But why isn’t Meece sharing those practices with the districts? That’s what the original charter school law was based on. The funding system where charters get funds from local districts does NOT work. All it does is set up a natural animosity between the charters and districts. We are all here. Districts and charters aren’t going away.

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          3. Do you realize how off you sound on here? It is going to happen… it is going to be a war… you must pick a side… it is going to be a big %… but I don’t know how much… or what is moving… but I am blaming someone about it… oh wait, my bad, it is not going to happen. Meece did not support the referendum… well not publicly… well of course he did because he is greedy. Ha, keep spreading 1/2 truths and bad intel… it has worked well for you so far!!

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  3. I think all of you trying to defend MR Meece are failing. I agree with with the author. He has mentioned very good points even with no facts. What he has shown us is that our little with multiple district are influenced by politics. They are shown too be just as crooked as the federal system. Let’s look at the bigger picture here, NCS takes only the best students. They may be rumor but the proof is in their yearly rankings. I find it impossible they always have the highest rankings because of their teaching styles. My final words are this, everyone one that has responded to this article, the DOE, congress and that POS Governor we have missed the biggest point, the kids and them being the future of our state and country. When you miss that then you missed a lot. The students deserve the possible education they can have and each school should provide that for them not just NCS. It is disappointing to see and read they posts defending people who don’t care and only care about themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brian, I hate to out my daughter. She should be able to go to any school we/she chooses without her mother making it public. The whole world already knows that I have lived with feet in both the traditional and charter public schools for years. I have one child at our local feeder. And I have my daughter, with complex autism and a million other dx and penchant for failing tests at NCS.

      So while there is a ton of stuff being thrown about, I need to correct Brian’s statement about NCS taking only the best students. My beautiful amazing intelligent daughter is not the best student. And of all the schools we toured and considered for her when we were hunting for high schools, NCS was the only one who offered a comprehensive plan from day one, including mentioning a 5 yr plan to get her to graduation with a diploma and not certificate. And it was a miracle that her name came up in the wait list just weeks before school started. Since then the ED has checked in with me daily since school started. I have never had that concierge service in any other school.

      Which makes me think, there are lessons that our traditional schools should be learning from NCS. That was of course the original intention of the charter law – develop innovative and successful practices to be shared with our traditional schools.

      We haven’t been with NCS long enough to rebut the allegations or facts. But, when Greg Meece was my guidance counselor in high school, he was pretty nice.

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          1. Elizabeth – I am excited that your daughter is doing well at NCS. Maybe that school was the best for for her and made plans for her to succeeded. The big picture with that is your envolvement in her daily studies and I am sure the teachers noticed that in you. With taking funds away from two struggling districts and putting into one school that already has the reputation they have is wrong. Those schools can use the money more then NCS can. Isn’t the goal to have all of our schools achieve that level?

            My biggest issue here that politics are encouraging it. They need to stay out of it. They are there for the entire state not just one school. And if a local/ district politician wants to get engaged in it then he/ she should step down. There are many schools in their district they should show just as much attention to.

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  4. I too support the contention made by Kevin and echoed by Brian. Let me quickly put in play what is going on here… Whether those questioning are plants for NCS or not, is irrelavant; the scenario is still the same…

    We have watched this TV show for 4 consecutive seasons, and we comment to one another: “that person is a snake whose head needs to come off”… and viewers seeing the show for the very first time will go… “wait, you don’t have facts! How can you say that? Did you get dropped from being one of that show’s extra’s? You seem bitter. Where’s the facts? Do you know how you sound here? He’s only said one sentence so far…”

    True, from your viewpoint, we’ll grant you that, BUT…. we’ve seen far more sentences than you can even dream. If you have 4 years and would like to catch up on the real state of education in Delaware and the USA, here is one source… (Sorry, its the only link I have access to at this time, but it does show the depth of discussion out there prior to any first timers tuning in.) There are many other sources and Kevin probably has one isolated to discussing just the plural forms of moose, somewhere on his blog….

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  5. Two things, Meece supported the referendum. Signs and emails sent for parents to vote for the referendum. Second, you have been dupped. This information was leaked on purpose to distract from another issue Markell and Godowsky wants to pass before Markell leaves office. CSD priority schools in Wilmington and the Red Clay take over of those schools. A lot of money needed for Red Clay to take over those schools and the funding isn’t going to fall out of the sky.

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    1. Unless you can verify this information, I’m definitely not buying this one. I know for a fact Red Clay can’t just “take over” these schools. They have enough issues on their plate without adding three new schools. If this were accurate, how would you come to know this? And if this information about the charter funds was “leaked” intentionally, that would take more coordination than I could give Markell or Godowsky. Markell is a smart cookie, but not THAT smart.

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