Letter From Newark Charter School Board Chairman May Turn District/Charter/Delaware DOE Funding War On Its Ear

Newark Charter School

No sooner do I receive the official word that no changes to the local cost per pupil formula will be changed than I get multiple emails with a letter from Newark Charter School Board Chairman Stephen Dressel sent to Newark Charter School parents.  This letter shows a very different take on the whole issue and alleges that Christina has been hiding funds in a certain bucket in their local funding.  The letter further states that the Delaware Department of Education approved this every single year.  That it wasn’t until this year that this funding bucket was found and corrected.  At this point in time, I truly don’t know what to believe.  While I have serious concerns with Newark Charter School’s enrollment practices and other financial issues at the school, if (and this is a very large if) what they are saying is true, I have serious questions about that as well.

I will be very clear with a few things before you read this letter.  The information presented to me from sources last week was a change in this formula, not a correction.  At no point in time until now did anyone from Newark Charter School or anyone from the charter school community present this information to me.  This is crispy fresh information that I just received.

So if there is no change, as the letter alleges, does that mean Christina will still have to pay these funds?  And who are the other districts alluded to in the letter?  Who was responsible for signing off on this at the Delaware DOE?  How does the Office of Management and Budget fit in with this?  Why did the local cost per pupil go up three times the original amount from 2013-2016 when the amount of students Christina sent to Newark Charter School only went from 1,200 to 2,000?  Those are still big mysteries in my book.  So while NCS may claim they are owed these funds, the fact remains the DOE put their stamp on it every year.  Were there earlier funding inequities going on with this formula which accounts for the huge change in funding between 2013-2016?  If this “hidden” budget was so hidden, how did Newark Charter School come to find out about this if the DOE was oblivious to what was going on as the letter alleges?  How much did Governor Markell or Ann Visalli, the former chief of the Office of Management and Budget know about what was going on with this if OMB were the ones determining the actual formula?  And is there any connection whatsoever to Kathleen Davies at the State Auditor’s Office being put on leave in May?  I do not have these answers, but my door is open for anyone to contact me on these questions.

In terms of this letter, it is written by a sole member of the Board of Directors of Newark Charter School and signed by one individual.  This letter is not from the entire board, or even on behalf of the board.

I have no doubt the NCS supporters will see this as justification for the actions Greg Meece, Joanne Schlossberg, and Dressel took last Spring.  The Deputy Secretary of Education, who the Associate Deputy Secretary of Education answers to, would be responsible for financial oversight of the Delaware DOE.  They did not meet with the Deputy Secretary of Education in the Spring.  They met with the former Deputy Secretary of Education, David Blowman, who now serves as the Associate Secretary of Education.  Blowman would have been the head finance guy at the Delaware DOE for the past few years when anyone would have signed off on what Dressel alleges to in this letter.  This is going to blow up this entire conversation all over again.  If what NCS is saying is true, then I would owe them an apology for allegations surrounding this particular issue.  I went based on information presented to me and I publicly wrote about this.  NCS or the charter school supporters could have responded in an official capacity at any time but chose not to.  But this is one letter written from one board member of the NCS board without full board approval. This letter was sent to the parents of a local education agency as defined by federal law so this document is in the public domain.

Oh, and just one more little itty bitty thing.  The creator of the PDF file was not Stephen Dressel.





24 thoughts on “Letter From Newark Charter School Board Chairman May Turn District/Charter/Delaware DOE Funding War On Its Ear

  1. Effectively the NCS (unelected) board pres. is calling the Christina CFO either incompetent or corrupt. This is a significant accusation. We’ll need much more detail from DDOE to determine which funds are being contested and whether the DDOE/NCS or Christina interpretations of the appropriate accounting is correct. More soon, no doubt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You owe no one an apology…. As with all things, there are elements that require judgment. Is something within, or outside a frame of reference?… One sets rules and parameters and even then, some things will fall on the line and someone will have to make judgment as to whether we collectively will consider that in, or outside the line…

      When this happens, there is a system and all must follow that system.

      It is no different than a referee determining whether a ball hit out of the park is a foul, or home run… As any sports viewer is aware, quite often that judgment is seen from completely different viewpoints depending upon the loyalty of each particular fan… Which is why we have referees… And why we have instant replay…. And why we have a head referee whose decision is final… Because you can’t argue forever. The game has to go on….

      In this case, the head referee stepped out and his assistant changed the call… Nothing else…. It was the assistant referee who decided the home run was a foul and not only overturned the judgment of the head referee, but also the precedent set by the former head referee, Mark Murphy….

      If you think during that big explosion 2 years back that all these categories were not closely searched to find anything wrong, you would be naive. It is Mark Murphy and Jack Markell we are talking about….

      So basically what happened here, is that Putin stepped in for Obama and sent notices that the US would hereby recognized that Ukraine would now be part of Russia….

      Of course, everyone else objected…. This letter is spin to cover up the committing of a crime… It is nothing else.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was told this summer, by an assistant secretary, that district CFO’s do this all the time. They manipulate the system to benefit their district. Sometimes even taking from one school in a district and giving to another. Whatever makes the district look the best is what goes.


      1. The man of the hour😜. I am not sure why they let it go. I assume, which is never good, they feel the system should be different but the general assembly has not presented legislation that would pass to change the current formula. So, DOE let’s districts do the best they can. I feel they look at districts as experts or Guinea pigs. Let’s see what they come up with and then we will do that. The district’s do the work and the state benefits. It’s just that no district has come up with something that will work long term, for every district, and help kids. Again, I am assuming no facts or conversations to quote, just my opinion.


      2. By the way, he played with numbers himself in brandywine. Every CFO does to compete in Delaware’s competitive educational market.


  3. I’ll give you credit on this post in that you recognize you may owe an apology. Maybe NCS leadership was trying to get things corrected without causing embarrassment to CSD and DOE. Based on this being a months long process by NCS, it seems they may have been looking for things to be corrected without being drawn into a public controversy.


  4. No apology is needed. It is obvious that the line given that they were trying to collect misappropriated funds is bogus, because the Charters had already budgeted the money they “knew” they’d be getting… and the public districts got a “Surprise Letter” August 8th and notice on the 26th… All budgets were finalized in March or early April….

    At that point (March, Early April) no one in NCS could have any idea what Christina had in their “buckets”…. Because those buckets had not been summoned and sent to the DOE….

    But ….. 5 months prior to a letter sent out… each Charter already knew how much each public district would be shaken down to pay them. They locked that in their budgets….

    Let me make it REAL CLEAR…. The only way this COULD work is if the charters put in what they needed in their budgets, and the “friends of charters” in the DOE then shook down the “buckets” to pay that predetermined amount….

    There is NO WAY based on the admission of charters to the News Journal, that the buckets were illegal all this time and they just happened to get caught…. The “buckets were made “illegal” after the fact for the express reason to provide more money to charters… It is no different than running down Rt 1 to Rehoboth and being pulled over at Frederica and given a ticket for doing 56 mph.

    They invented the crime to get the money…. No, Pete, NCS needs to apologize, hopefully to a judge who then closes them down for malfeasance and orders them to pay damages to all the public school children whose future’s were ruined by their irresponsibility…


  5. You are entertaining Kavips.
    Charter school funds are based on the district’s previous year’s budget. Wouldn’t thos “buckets” have been submitted to DOE prior to the school year and not towards the end of the year if the districts were complying with the law? Budgets are approved well before a school year begins, no?
    Those budgets are public information and, therefore, the charter schools involved should have had access to them either through the district website or a FOIA request. I would guess they knew how much was hidden in the “bucket” back in the spring, probably earlier, and had to wait until August for the slow wheels of DOE to confirm or change those amounts and decide to actually follow the law.
    The State Auditor needs to look into the books of CSD to determine what happened and how long it has been happening, and whether it was intentional or criminal.
    Who’s futures were ruined by NCS? How?


    1. Hey Petey, guess you haven’t been reading stuff today. I’ll chalk that up to you being busy with other stuff. I get that. But all your arguments have basically been debunked today. I know, it sucks. I would look to your charter chief and the legislator who was pimping the same crap about CSD to find out WHY they were doing that. I know, it sucks to lose this one. Just don’t choke on the crow you’re gonna have to eat.


  6. Not quite. Those funds that districts were told could be included in August. Why were they included in last years budget “bucket”? How did CSD know it should be in there well before DOE told them it was OK? Sorry, it sounds like DOE is trying the great Delaware way coverup.


  7. If that was accurate, why was DOE telling them less than a million of the original 8+ million was acceptable just a couple weeks ago? Too many inconsistencies in this story to fit the CSD superintendent’s letter.


      1. I read your “article” and there is quite a bit to figure out on both sides of this. To increase exemptions from $700,000 to over 9 million over a five year period is questionable. The referendum funds would increase marginally over time. However, property values of newly sold homes have not been increasing significantly over the past five years. Property values have not been re-appraised (not sure if that’s the official term) in a very long time – so there would not be significant increases from year to year.
        I would have to expect that charter schools are informed of the amount and nature of the exemptions by either the state or the district in an effort to avoid what we are seeing right now. If it hasn’t been happening, shame on them. Additionally, prior exemptions should also be listed out annually, including the year of approval to prevent any challenges. This would be incredibly easy things for an accountant to do from year to year.
        It is especially concerning that DOE denied the exemptions, only to back down after political pressure. I
        have no idea how you could consider this a DOE/NCS coverup. I can’t imagine they would expect anything other than a blogger/CSD/Kowalko/ Baumbach explosion after the experience they had with the expansion to a high school.
        By the way, if DOE told CSD that more things were permitted to be exempt, would you consider that a change in the formula as you did in the beginning of this? Would you still be outraged or does your moral compass move depending on who is affected?


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