At the Christina School District Board of Education meeting two weeks ago, Chief Financial Officer Robert Silber gave insight to a very interesting meeting at the Delaware Department of Education concerning the recent decision to give Delaware charter schools a portion of match tax funds through the local funding formula. Silber’s description of Delaware Secretary Education Dr. Susan Bunting’s reaction during this meeting was surprising.
The memo that they also sent to districts said that due to the uncertainties associated with the budget, we’re holding off on a determination of match dollars until legislators made a determination around how the proposed reductions were going to occur. They didn’t want, as they expressed it to us, they didn’t want to make a decision in advance that may have been different based upon the budget (state) for this year since there were a lot of talk legislatively around match tax. The Department then came out with a position statement that said they believe match taxes are operating expenses and as an operating expense should be included. District business managers then turned as a group and said to the Department, as part of the process, that we would like to have a meeting to discuss that. That meeting occurred last Thursday (August 3rd) and I would say that the Secretary and a member of her staff were there, listening. But there was no decision rendered at that meeting and we have not seen anything since that point in time to know whether or not they listened to our concerns. One of the concerns that we expressed, and is probably the easiest one for me to grasp around, is that when you take a look at the various match components that exist, one of those matches is for reading resources. Reading resource teachers are, by the definition of the dollars enabling legislation to begin with, was very specifically targeted to elementary schools. So we posed the question to the Secretary, once these dollars go into the formula, those same dollars are going to a high school. It doesn’t make logical sense and we asked that be considered. She’s considering it.
Come on Dr. Bunting! As someone who comes from a traditional school district, you know how this stuff works. Charters lobby for more money, whether it is justified or not. Just because they want it doesn’t mean it is right. I get that everyone wants a piece of the funding pie but sometimes the taste isn’t so palatable. Don’t give in to this Bunting! We live in a state where charters are able to keep their excess transportation funds. It is VERY hypocritical for the Department of Education to give in to the charters while that anomaly exists. We need a Secretary who will stand up to these freakish money requests from the charters and do what is right! We need a home run here, not a bunt!
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It may (or may not) be worth noting that Dr. Bunting comes from Indian River School District. A district whose board of education steadfastly refuses to utilize match tax for anything other than minor capital improvements (MCI). Even then, their Board *REFUSES* to call MCI a Match Tax (even though, by law, it is). Her experience with match taxes and their purpose is likely quite limited. So much so that her decision making processes would likely be influenced by whom she has serving in her department.
Remember who the actors & actresses were the last time DDOE tried to pull this move last year? They’re still in the cast at DDOE.
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