Education Funding Mismanagement In Delaware

The below picture portrays exactly what is wrong with education funding in Delaware.  There is no consistency or oversight with where existing funds are going.  As a result, we have a boiling cauldron of fraud, waste, and abuse.  It seems like anyone can get paid in education and it can be catalogued however a school wants.

In this picture, we see the former Head of School from Family Foundations Academy and East Side Academy doing what appears to be consulting work for three Delaware charter schools.  Given that the amounts are very similar, I can assume it was the same type of work.  All three schools put the payments under different categories: Educational Benefits-Chld, Consultants, and Other Professional Service.  All three schools used different funds for what I assume to be similar work: Special, General, and Federal.  All three schools belong to the same Wilmington Charter School Collaborative, which is an alternate teacher evaluation system.  This initiative came about through Lamont Browne.

Lamont Browne left Delaware last summer and moved to Colorado to work his “magic” in another corporate education reform state.  So how is it he is able to do all this work in Colorado and still get paid by the State of Delaware through various charter schools?  Does he have a finders fee for this teacher evaluation system?

Governor Carney wants to talk about all these education funding decisions but has completely ignored the elephant in the room: we don’t know where existing funding is going to, especially in our charter schools.  School districts pull the same kind of shenanigans (wait until you see the next major audit investigation report coming out of Tom Wagner’s office!) but they can be harder to find.

I did go ahead and submit this as a tip to Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office as I wrote this article.  In the vein of full transparency, I am including screen shots of my tip:

When I write about this kind of stuff, all too often charter school supporters start defending the schools and say I am picking on charter schools.  While this most likely isn’t a Sean Moore kind of deal, it is symptomatic of what is wrong with our education funding oversight in Delaware.  I’m not looking for the causes as much as I truly want a solution to these kind of problems.  I would love to stop writing about these matters.  So Governor Carney, I am throwing you the gauntlet one more time: are you ready to talk about this or do I need to keep writing?

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9 thoughts on “Education Funding Mismanagement In Delaware

  1. I commend you for reaching out and trying to resolve this matter. After being actively involved in the referendum for Indian River, I found a lot of interesting things that I had no clue about regarding finances for a school district. It is VERY complicated because it is funded through 3 different areas. So it very well could be that the school allocated funds differently, but I am not sure how difficult it would be to try to streamline the process. How do other States do it? I am not trying to argue with you and do think it’s great that you contacted someone that might have an answer. If you do receive a response, I would be interested in hearing it as well.

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    1. The thing is, with federal funds, there are usually grants involved. You don’t get to use those funds for that purpose unless you have a grant. It could be a consolidated grant like IDEA for special education or other federal programs. My sense, in the case in my article, is incompetence and no one really knew what they were doing. Or perhaps one party did but the other two didn’t. I can’t speak for other states, but Delaware SHOULD be consistent. We can’t cry about education funding all the time with no true apparatus to track it and make sure there is consistency. I recently spoke to a legislator pretty high up in the education world who was well aware special education tuition funding (raised or lowered by a school board without a referendum) was not always used for its intended purposes by school districts. I advised this legislator this could be millions of dollars. He shrugged it off as not wanting to affect local control. I am all for local control but not so they can do whatever they want with funding meant for kids.

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      1. I agree with you about being consistent. I only mention other States because if they have a better way of managing the different funds, it could be an alternative solution that only needs to be researched. There very well could be a model out there that is better than what we are doing currently in our state. I would not say that these expenses shown here are necessarily inconsistent. I think more information is needed before I would make that judgment.

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  2. This is exactly why referendums are voted against, IT’S FOR THE CONTINUED MISMANAGEMENT OF FUNDS. The Delaware public school management is terrible and should be abolished to 4 districts, enough is enough!

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      1. Look for yourself! Christina SD is mismanaging funds by providing property tax dollars to educate illegals! It’s crazy, there are laws that need to be followed or you have anarchy. CSD should put this up for a vote, it’s not their money!

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  3. Can we take a moment and also recognize the fact that there are finance managers and volunteers who bust their asses every month to keep Districts on track with revenue and spending? And that not all schools and not all Districts are playing “Hide the Money”?

    Governor Carney might want to look into upgrading the State’s accounting system first, because it’s atrocious. If you want more transparent finance reporting from the State, they need to invest in a system that actually reports finance data transparently. Then maybe we can ease up on the number of soothsayers needed to translate school funding into coherence.

    Kevin, judging by what I’ve learned about how Charter school CBOC’s go, incompetence is likely the correct diagnosis.

    Kristy, it’s complicated for sure. There are three main sources of funds, but within those three sources there are dozens and dozens of appropriations (or accounts) that the funds are divvied up into. Some of the accounts are have spending restrictions on them, some do not. And none of that is reflected in the Delaware Online Checkbook. That thing is a joke.

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    1. The OAOA’s referral information form state’s, “Informants are kept confidential AND so are the results.!!!!

      The VA new Chief stated, ” the way you fix this is not by internally motivating people to fix it–you actually need the external environment, people looking, saying “I don’t understand why it’s 45 days.”

      This is why our legislators, school boards and other education decision makers are so strongly opposed to financial transparency.

      Check all the information in the school profiles on our children compared to financial information.

      Never forget, when you control what information is provided to the public, you have absolute control over revenue . Than we have no oversight by our state auditors.

      This will not change until voters vote out our state legislators, those who are responsible for passing laws that must be followed by our school boards.

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