Christina School Board, while I doubt you are seeing these during your meeting, you NEED TO PUT ALL THE AIR QUALITY REPORTS ON BOARD DOCS. Yes, I understand capitalizing all letters shows signs of anger. Yes, I am pissed. DO THE RIGHT THING!
If the Christina School Board does not vote to close Pulaski for at least two weeks, I will lose all faith in their ability as a governing board. How many more cover-ups do they need to see? How many more teachers have to get sick? If they vote no, I challenge them to spend 48 hours straight in that building. If the rooms that are being cleaned are still closed off, just stay in the rooms above them. See what they vote then…
They didn’t pull the carpet up from the ISS room. Let me reiterate… they did not pull the carpet up in one of the rooms they cleaned. Carpets are made of fibers. Pull up that carpet. See what is underneath it. I don’t care if they carpet cleaned it. There is mold in that school. It is not in those three rooms alone at high levels. I know you want rock-solid proof on this. But how many more people have to get sick or worse before you get that rock-solid proof? You have enough now. Act. Do not wait.
Can someone please tell me what level of incompetence we are dealing with here? It is OBVIOUS Pulaski is fast becoming a potential health crisis. We have sick teachers, it’s raining maggots during IEP meetings, dead mice, and lots and lots of mold. And NOT in the computer lab and the two other rooms. And knowing the issues, why would they replace an air filter BUT NOT CLEAN THE DAMN COVER TO THE UNIT? Look at all that mold on there. Come on. What do we need to do here? THEY ARE COVERING IT UP! I saw brand new fresh tiles and white paint on ceiling tiles. To see the pictures, see below… Continue reading Why Did They Put A New Air Filter In At Pulaski But Not Clean The Cover? Stop Covering It Up And Hiding The Mold!!!!
Thanks to Newsworks for getting this video up on Youtube.
This morning I followed-up on plans to observe a talented and gifted program in one of our Delaware schools. It was great seeing the kids interacting with their teacher. I arrived at Pulaski Elementary School at about 9:45am and stayed until shortly before noon. I got a tour of the building. I haven’t been in too many inner-city schools that are older, so it was great to see the design of the building and the different levels.
About fifteen minutes after arrival, I developed a nasal drip. Which was very strange because I wasn’t congested prior to getting there. About ten minutes later I began to have a headache. I ate a full breakfast this morning and took my vitamins. Most headaches I get require me to take some type of medicine like Motrin or Tylenol. Alas, I didn’t have any with me. The headache went away about 45 minutes after I left Pulaski.
I saw the rooms where the mold remediation took place. They were sealed off with plastic zipper doors, like what we saw in E.T. back in 1982. I asked if the carpeting was the same in the one room to which my guide said yes. Other areas that were not remediated had a musty, damp kind of smell. Not the whole building, but areas near the remediated rooms and above them. Even the front office had a peculiar smell.
I met the principal. A very nice woman. I met quite a few teachers, most of them in passing. All were very polite and doing what they do best, teaching kids. There were a few times I had to ask my guide to repeat herself. Unfortunately, under doctor orders, she had to wear an air filter mask because of lingering health issues.
By the way, the Christina Board of Education will meet tonight at the Sarah Pyle Academy in Wilmington. The meeting opens to the public at 7pm and public comment is always welcome. I know they will be discussing the mold issues as well as the charter school lawsuit against them and the Delaware Dept. of Education. Last night, the board held an Executive Meeting to discuss the litigation. I anticipate a very large crowd in attendance this evening, so you may want to think about arriving early. Meanwhile, the Delaware Division of Public Health is set to release a report on their walk-through of the school last Friday.
Academy of Dover is up for charter renewal this fall. The Secretary of Education will announce his recommendation at the December State Board of Education meeting and then the State Board will vote on it. The school has a gigantic hurdle to overcome: their enrollment.
Today, the Charter School Accountability Committee released the report from their initial meeting with Academy of Dover on October 10th.
Mr. Blowman noted that the school’s enrollment has declined steadily over the years, from 308 students in school year 2013-14 to 247 students this school year.
That is a very serious drop! Their approved charter enrollment is 300 students. Charters can’t go below 80% of that, so their magic number is 240. How bad is it? To put things in perspective, they decreased their Kindergarten classes from 3 to 2 this year because of lower enrollment. That is their bread and butter for future growth.
Ms. Johnson stated that if the current 2016-17 enrollment is projected out based on the trends to date, the school would be at 46% enrollment in four years, well below the required 80%. She added that this trend is occurring at every grade level versus one particular cohort. She reiterated that the school must provide a strong plan to mitigate this year’s reduced kindergarten enrollment and the low year-to-year retention rates.
Teacher retention was also an issue, but Academy of Dover is not immune to this issue. Many charters and districts regularly suffer through this process each year.
This is my problem with charter school renewals. So much of it is based on standardized test scores. Far too much of it. I can’t sit here and mock charters about low test scores while demonizing them in traditional schools. This very huge flaw in education is universal. For any school to feel they have to create a “Smarter Balanced Boot Camp” to drive up scores shows exactly what is wrong with the system to begin with. This school already has a long day, from 7:45 to 3:30. By keeping struggling students until 5pm and factoring in transportation, that is half of a student’s day. Gone.
One thing I was very happy to see was a minor modification request submitted by Academy of Dover to reduce their number of school days from 200 to 180. Citing a lot of absenteeism of students the first two weeks of school and the last two weeks, the school said they are listening to parents. But of course the DOE has to pick that apart as well.
I believe the DOE needs to take a strong look at their Charter School Accountability Committee. The non-voting members, at least two of them, had a lot to say during this meeting. More than I’ve seen in a long time. But when one of the voting members could potentially stand to gain if the school shut down… that I have a huge problem with.
The next Charter School Accountability Committee meeting, where the committee will give their final recommendation, will occur in late November or early December. I think the school has come a long way since the Noel Rodriguez days. I think they realize what their major mistakes were and have attempted to take swift action. The addition of Gene Capers, a former Principal from Capital School District, as a curriculum director, was a stroke of genius. Cheri Marshall has come a long way. While she was thrust into a position of leadership based on another person’s wrong actions, she has grown in that role. I saw a confidence in her at the renewal meeting last week that I didn’t see during their formal review a year and a half ago. While this may seem to be too little too late for those who are no longer at the school, no human being can change the past but they can try to make a better future.
I gave this school a very hard time the past couple of years. So much of that surrounded a central theme: transparency. I think the combination of Rodriguez’ shenanigans, special education issues, and their start and stop time of the school year are playing a major part in their current enrollment woes. My recommendation: approve their minor modification and let them stay open. See what happens in the fall. If their enrollment falls below 80%, the DOE will be forced to follow the law. But give them a chance. We have had far too many charter schools close that serve minority and low-income populations the past few years. It is not good. They have to get special education right, but they are not the only school in this state struggling with that. We must, as a state, clearly define a better strategy for special education and make sure all schools are consistent with that path.