Colonial School District To Hold 2nd Referendum Of The Year On June 6th

A few weeks ago, the Colonial School District referendum failed to gain enough yes votes for it to pass.  So the district is holding another referendum on Tuesday, June 6th.  The district issued a press release today.

Colonial Schedules Second Referendum

New Castle, DE- The Colonial School Board of Education voted in favor of holding a second referendum on Tuesday, June 6, 2017. The Board agreed to the same operating amount sought in the February 28 referendum of 38 cents per $100 of assessed home value. With impending cuts to the state budget announced recently, the 38 cents will now meet operating and growth needs only, and not the expansion of other district initiatives.

The Board of Education agreed to remove the capital improvement request of 1.4 cents, the second part of the February referendum, which was also rejected by voters.

Due to the failed referendum, the Colonial School District has implemented an immediate hiring, spending, and travel freeze to preserve funds through the remainder of this fiscal year.

Should the June referendum also be defeated, Colonial is preparing to implement over $4 million in cuts for the 2017-2018 school year. Immediate implications include:
• Over 170 positions will be eliminated. All departments will be impacted.
• Class sizes will increase due to the reduction in staff.
• Middle school and freshman sports will be cancelled.
• Parents will be required to provide basic school supplies.
• Student travel and field trips will be cancelled or costs will be incurred by parents.
• Art Show, Band and Choral Festivals and STEAM Showcase will be cancelled.
• The annual Teacher of the Year and retirement dinners will be cancelled.
• Summer enrichment programs will be cancelled, including Middle School Institute and STEM, impacting over 700 students.
• Summer Credit Recovery Program for high school students will be cancelled.

“We realized that we didn’t communicate the impact that a failed referendum will have on our schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Dusty Blakey. While vowing to remain committed to providing students with a quality education Blakey said, “If we aren’t successful in June, we are preparing to make some very difficult choices that will impact our valued staff, and as a result, our students. When we are forced to make drastic cuts like this, we look to preserve our classrooms. However, staff cuts will mean larger class sizes and possibly the end of some popular academic programs. In addition, some sports and extracurricular activities will also be casualties.”

Gary Phillips, President of the Friends of Colonial, is meeting with parents and community members who want to see the referendum pass in June saying, “The Colonial School District has made tremendous strides over the last few years. We want to see that momentum continue for the sake our students, so we will work very hard to convince voters to support the district by voting for the June 6th referendum,” Phillips said.

Christina Board Member Resignation Leads To TWO Board Seat Elections On May 9th

The New Castle Department of Election is accepting nominations for District B in the Christina School District until April 20th.  Anyone who files will be a candidate for the school board election on May 9th.  This will leave Christina with two new board members following the resignation of Meg Mason last week.

I’ve seen in other districts where the board appoints someone until the next FULL school board election season.  This decision by the Dept. of Elections leaves a candidate very little time to prepare for a 19 day campaign.  If no one files, that protocol would take place.  I imagine it is because the resignation came prior to the school board election as the basis for the decision.

District G already has three candidates running for that seat: Jeff Day, Meredith Griffin, and Kimara Smith.  I will be announcing my endorsement for that district in the next few days, along with some other races.

Delaware Residential Treatment Center Numbers Go Down As Day Programs Shoot Up

Day programs for children with big behavioral issues stemming from disabilities are shooting up rapidly.  This is a good thing.  Prior to this year, most of these special needs students were sent to residential treatment centers which can result in separation from family and a large financial burden to the state.  This is the most promising Interagency Collaborative Team report I’ve seen since I began covering these three years ago.

The unique challenges these students face is very difficult for families and schools.  At times, extra intervention beyond the capacity of the local education agency is needed.  The choice of sending a student to a day program or a residential treatment center is still a difficult one for a parent.  But a day program, in the same state, is a better option for the student and their primary caregivers.  While a parent doesn’t pay for these programs when it goes through the ICT, it costs the state much more for residential treatment.  In most cases, a local school district pays 30% of the cost while the state pays the remaining 70%.

Most of the children, teenagers, and young adults are male, at roughly 80%.  Over half of these students are teenagers.  Around 3/4 of the students in residential treatment centers go out of state to receive those services.  The number of students in these unique services has hovered in the low 140s for the past three fiscal years.