Red Clay, Brandywine, & Appoquinimink Go After Christina For The Same Bling The Charters Got In Settlement

Christina School District is about to get screwed again!  But not by the charters this time.  This time it is districts who should be their allies!

Okay, time to let the cat out of the bag.  A month ago, and if you blinked you missed it, the Christina Board of Education discussed and voted no on the Chief Financial Officer of their district negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding between Christina, Red Clay, Appoquinimink and Brandywine.  The MOU would have given authority to the CFO of Christina to send those local funds to the three other districts for students that choice to those districts out of Christina.  The board said no.  Look for a special board meeting sometime next week.  From what I’m hearing, now the Superintendents of the districts (all four) want to have the MOU between them.  Welcome to Christina Richard Gregg!

That’s what happens when you open Pandora’s Box like that with that stupid settlement between Christina and the charters.  I’m talking to you four Christina board members who voted FOR the settlement and then voted against rescinding the settlement a week later.  Did I not distinctly hear that it would set a precedent?  That it would come back to bite them in the ass?  I know I said it.  I believe a few others did as well.  Karma truly is a vengeful and mean bitch.

Do I have anything against Brandywine, Appo, or Red Clay for going after these funds?  I don’t know.  The timing sucks.  And how soon until Colonial jumps on the train?  All this happened because, supposedly, according to some commenter named Elizabeth, Jack Markell had some secret deal with Lillian Lowery and Christina when she became Secretary of Education.  The way I’ve heard it, Lowery was involved in a lawsuit when she became Secretary and Captain Jack wanted it all hush-hush so all sorts of crazy crap happened.  I heard that from someone who used to be on the board who hasn’t been too quiet about it over the past year or so.  Funny how stuff gets out in The First State.

So what happens if Christina’s board says no again?  Will the big three (and possibly Colonial) get their feathers in a twist and file a lawsuit against Christina as well?  My gut tells me Christina’s board will be forced to vote yes because of the precedent set in the charter settlement.  So last week, the board announced they will be laying off 44 or so teachers.  Will this cause that number to rise?  And how the hell does their CFO Robert Silber still have a job there?

How much money are we talking?  I don’t think it would be as much as the cha-ching the charters got, but it will leave a mark on their budget.  At this point, anything more is suck city.  Here’s a novel idea… how about going after Jack Markell and Lillian Lowery for their side deals that went on.  Better catch Jack quick before he goes on his Forrest Gump tour of America!  Yeah, like that will ever happen.  Captain Jack seems to have some special immunity shield around him.  It’s a special kind, where you screw things up for eight years and you get to go biking into the Pacific sunset.

Education never gets boring in this state.  But this will not be a joking matter for the teachers and staff in Christina School District.  These are good people who have been the victim of these education funding games for many years now.  Throw in priority schools and the constant labeling and shaming of the district.  I feel bad for all the districts right now.  Students and teachers should not be the sacrificial targets because the adults in charge can’t get their shit together.  Sorry to be so blunt, but I’m really getting sick of it.

Here’s the kicker!  I submitted a FOIA to the Delaware Auditor of Accounts office a couple of weeks ago.  This is what I asked for:

Please provide, in PDF format, all reports, letters, guidance, or inspections for any Delaware school district, vocational school district, or charter school generated by the Office of the Auditor of Accounts that is not listed on the Auditor of Accounts website for fiscal years 2014, 2015, and 2016. This would include any of the above listed documents sent to members of the General Assembly, the Delaware Department of Education, the Office of Management and Budget, Office of the Controller General, or the Office of Management and Budget that would be considered a public document 29 Del. C. Paragraph 10002(1).

Wanna know what I got?  Bupkis, that’s what!  I got the petty cash letters sent to a handful of charters last year along with the letters about that specific situation sent to various state agencies.  For three fiscal years!

Wanna know what that means?  The Auditor of Accounts office is NOT auditing ANY school district unless it is an investigation based on something submitted on their tip line.  Which means that office is breaking the law.  But the General Assembly won’t give them the funds to do their job as required by Delaware State Law (which the General Assembly does: create laws).  So who do we take to court?  The Auditor of Accounts office or the General Assembly?  Who is tracking where the hell education funds actually go?  NO ONE!  Except myself and Jack Wells it looks like.  But yeah, let’s layoff teachers and make classrooms into sardine cans while people in district offices are making over $100,000 in salary.  Cause that makes a lot of fucking sense!  Let’s keep paying for state testing and all these one-to-on devices so we can just weed out teachers and turn education into a reformer wonderland!  as I said, I’m getting tired of all this nonsense.  And if I were a teacher, I would be too!  If I were a parent (which I am) I would be shouting this from the rooftops: Stop screwing over our schools!  And when I say schools, that primarily means the students and teachers.  That is the heart of it all.

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7 thoughts on “Red Clay, Brandywine, & Appoquinimink Go After Christina For The Same Bling The Charters Got In Settlement

  1. Sigh. Kevin, I know it’s fun to beat up on Christina, you do it as much as anyone else, the settlement sucks, yes. But according to budget epilogue language and state code, Districts receiving choiced students are entitled to per student funds from the sending districts. As much as you hate it, that’s how it is currently unless our esteemed legislators were to close some loopholes in the funding process.

    Doesn’t make a difference whether the receiving school is in a District is a Charter. If it’s includes in DOE’s local cost per student calculation (that whole included/excluded crap) it goes to the receiving District. That doesn’t make for sexy headlines though.

    If the Board didn’t settle and took it to court, they would have lost and then we’d be reading your posts about Christina frivolously wasting taxpayer funds on legal fees for losing causes. It’s a catch 22 damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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    1. I’m not beating up on Christina. What I’m beating up on is the settlement to begin with. If I’m not mistaken, you were VERY much against the whole thing when it came out and you are on Christina’s CBOC. How can you assume they would have lost? When the settlement came out, there was language in there that you weren’t totally in agreement over, especially the match tax part. What would stop the districts and charters from going after that? This is EXACTLY what I was afraid of and why I urged the board to vote NO on the settlement. You are assuming I would have written about taxpayer funds if they fought it. I would have been VERY impressed because the amount of money going out to the charters (and possibly the districts) over this would end up being much more than the attorney costs over time. I would rather see them lose in court than have the board vote yes on that crapstick of a settlement.

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      1. You are still missing two very vital components in all of this, which serves as a good chunk of my basis for assuming Christina would have lost upon challenging this in court.

        1. The money that will now go to Charters as a result of the settlement was and is LEGALLY theirs, because they are educating Christina resident students. Just as it would be for other Districts who receive and educate Christina resident students AND
        2. Prior to 2014, this money was **already going to Charters** where it proceeded to be unaccounted for once it hit Charter accounts.

        It did not get sent to Charters from 2014-2016 because DDOE granted the bulk of the funds in question as “excluded” from the “Local Cost Per Student” formula, which is what determines the $ districts send to Charters educating their resident students. Why? Because they were asked to grant exclusionary status by the Christina. That’s literally the only reason we know of. Every year prior to 2014 that exclusionary status was denied. Suddenly, on the 11th time the District asked DDOE if these funds could be excluded from local cost per student (thus blocking them from going to Charters), they said “OK”. Why? I have no idea. This entire process in DDOE is completely obscured. But if you find Dave Blowman, please ask him. He’d know the hows and whys.

        You are correct in that I did not agree with the settlement and that I serve on Christina’s Budget Oversight Committee. Further you are correct in that I disagreed with portions of the settlement language specifically surrounding the Match Tax, which as you know was not included as part of the settlement. To your question to and fear of “What’s to stop them from going after the Match Tax?”

        The answer is, nothing. Nothing can stop them. Nothing stopped them prior to the settlement either. They could have sued over the match tax issue at any point in time since the match tax became a thing.

        But they haven’t. Why is that I wonder?

        Because they’d lose. Delaware code and budget language is very specific on which entities are empowered to generate revenue by levying taxes on real property. When it comes to the Match Tax, it is provided in code that Districts may raise revenue to generate *their* portion of the Match, and when it comes to Charters Match is “Not Applicable”. Yes it literally says “N/A”. There is a provision for minor capital funds (part of the Match Tax) to go to charters directly from the General Assembly (not through the Districts), and that’s it.

        The only way Charters can go after Match is if they lobby for a change in the law. So keep your eyes on Dover for that one, because I’m sure it’s been in the works for quite some time.

        As to whatever this deal between Markell and & Lowery you keep talking about is, I have no idea what in the hell you’re talking about. What deal? That Christina was to send this funding to Charters from 2003-2014 where it summarily vanished into the Hall of Smoke & Mirrors that is Charter School Spending because there’s zero accountability? That’s a pretty shit deal if you ask me. But it sure lines up with Markell’s anti-District stances.

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    2. And sorry, Silber needs to go at this point. If there was some shady deal between Markell and Lowery, he had to know it would come back to bite the district once Jack was on the way out. And he helped to negotiate that craptacular settlement!

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    3. Brian,

      The only silver lining would have been that a judge would have had to gut CSD instead of us doing it to ourselves (making them the “bad guy”). Maybe would play better at referendum time, maybe not. Would have like to have had the opportunity. The legal fees are an infinitesimal % when compared to the amount of the settlement, which is increased $$ to charters, forever.

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