Governor Carney and the Delaware Department of Education almost had us. They were THIS close. In another 24 hours or so they could have gotten away with it. Their plan to completely evaporate the Christina School District Wilmington student population will depend on the vote at the Christina Board meeting tomorrow night. But they NEVER told us about the loophole. Does a Memorandum of Understanding give a state Governor the power to “waive” a law? I think not!
The kicker to all this is buried in Delaware state code. Title 14, §504A, under “Powers”:
(6) Contract with any school district, or any other public school or private nonsectarian, nonreligious entity also empowered to enter into contracts, for any and all real property, equipment, goods, supplies and services; provided, that a school district must make unused buildings or space (defined as space no longer needed, permanently or temporarily, for non-charter school purposes) buildings or space in buildings available to a charter school, and shall bargain in good faith over the cost of rent, services and maintenance related to such space;
So what does this have to do with the MOU between Christina, the Delaware DOE, and Governor Carney’s office? A whole heck of a lot! Under the MOU plan, Elbert-Palmer and Pulaski would close down. The property would be owned by Christina. The MOU gives clear understanding of what Christina could do with those buildings- work with the community and Christina would have authority over those buildings. But an MOU is NOT embedded in state code. The above section from Title 14 is.
So is this the game plan? Christina signs the MOU and the Wilmington schools consolidate. Under state code, if a charter school wanted to occupy those buildings, they could. So here comes a new charter in Wilmington, ready to invade the Christina School District population once again, thus swiping more students from the brand-spanking newly renovated schools. Then that building empties out. Now the charters have dibs on another, and so on and so forth. Pretty nifty plan! No more Wilmington kids in those Christina schools.
Unless Governor Carney convinces the General Assembly to reconvene in the next 24 hours and change the law. Too bad they are on recess while the Joint Finance Committee has all those budget hearings.
It was a nice gambit Governor. You came very close. I pray the Christina Board wises up very fast. Anyone planning on voting yes for this may as well resign from the board and get on the board of the Delaware Charter School Network. Because word on the street is they have recently been complaining about, you guessed it, their ability to use empty school district buildings.
Greg Meece, the Head of School over at Newark Charter School, stated in a public forum last Spring that he would love to open up a Wilmington Newark Charter School so he could spread the magic into the city. You may get your wish if the Christina Board votes in favor of the law-breaking MOU tomorrow night.
If you plan on attending this meeting tomorrow night, please bring popcorn. I have no doubt I will bring some Entenmann’s Chocolate Chip Cookies because that’s how I roll. 7pm, Sarah Pyle Academy, Wilmington. This is education theater!