Delaware has three vocational districts, one for each county. For this post, I’m combining Polytech (Kent) and Sussex Tech (Sussex). Both have fixed enrollments. In fact, Sussex Tech got in trouble a few years ago for going over that fixed amount of students. The key difference in funding between the vo-techs and the districts and charters is the Delaware General Assembly sets their budget in line-by-line items in their annual budget. As well, their boards are appointed by the Governor of Delaware. Their salaries can be higher than the districts around them in certain areas. And what is up with Sussex Tech’s former Superintendent still making the big bucks? Isn’t he former? Oh yeah, he’s been on paid leave since last June because of inappropriate land deals down there according to the Cape Gazette. Do these two schools really need this many administrators? Continue reading Polytech and Sussex Tech Salaries Over $100,000
The last of the traditional school district, Woodbridge School District is another one of the “cross-county” districts. They are a growing district. They also have a Superintendent with a name that sounds like a movie star: Heath Chasanov. I’ve written a billion of these salary posts so I feel I ‘m allowed a bit of humor as I approach the finish line. But I digress. Woodbridge is also home to someone I admire, Michele Marinucci. The district’s special education coordinator, along with State Rep. Kim Williams, got the Special Education Strategic Plan formed into a cohesive committee that is doing great things for special education in Delaware. Chasanov has been commended by the Delaware Dept. of Education for the district’s growth on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Not my cup of tea, but it keeps them in the spotlight. Continue reading Woodbridge School District Salaries Over $100,000
Smyrna and Clayton are very tight-knit communities. Many in the Smyrna area will tell you the Smyrna School District runs the town. Whether that is true or not, one thing is true: Superintendent Patrik Williams certainly runs his schools! By keeping administrative costs down, he runs a tight ship. While Smyrna is not the fastest growing area in the state, it is certainly growing. Smyrna’s biggest competition is local charter schools Providence Creek Academy and First State Military Academy, both in Clayton. The district has grown modestly by about 200 students in the past four years. Last year, former Superintendent Deborah Wicks retired. The one thing about Smyrna that troubles me to no end is their very high expulsion rates. They are the highest in the state. Last year they had 30 expulsions. To me, that is zero tolerance. Something we should be getting away from. It is rumored Smyrna does this so they can pay for pre-paid spots at Parkway Academy. While this hasn’t been made official, it makes sense in a bizarre way. The State Board of Education sees more expulsion appeals come from Smyrna over any other district or charter school. There is a reason for that. Williams is a pretty funny guy once you get to know him. Continue reading Smyrna School District Salaries Over $100,000
The Seaford School District lies on the western edge of Sussex County. The district hovers around the just below 3,500 mark most of the time. Even though their enrollment is the same, they have two more administrators making over $100,000 than they did four years ago. Like their neighbor to the south, Laurel, they have a high percentage of low-income students and English Language learners. The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission brought up both of these districts many times in their reports on Delaware public schools. Seaford reminds me of the school district I grew up in with its make-up four elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. But that’s where the similarities end. My school district was about 3/5ths the size of Seaford. Which means they have a lot of kids in their buildings. Continue reading Seaford School District Salaries Over $100,000
Red Clay Consolidated School District has become a cash cow.
I thought I had a general idea of my overall theory of school administrators in Delaware. Red Clay was the last to respond to my FOIA request with their numbers. I sat for a good ten minutes just staring at what they sent me. While Christina and Red Clay have the exact same amount of administrators, Christina has more schools AND holds statewide programs like the Delaware Autism Program. Both have 93 administrators. But in reviewing Red Clay’s, along with some of the titles, I was utterly shocked. They have individual supervisors for each core subject, personnel specialists, and program coordinators. Continue reading Red Clay Consolidated School District Salaries Over $100,000
The Milford School District is one of the few districts in Delaware that lies in two different counties. For Milford, both Kent and Sussex County have parts of the district. As a result, their tax pool is different. A couple of years ago, Milford, like many other districts, had to raise their tuition tax. This is a portion of property taxes the public does not get a vote on. The money is for special education costs. Milford raised their tuition tax considerably and the public got sticker shock when they opened their tax bill. As a result, it forced the district to become very frugal with their spending. The district has the second lowest amount of administrators over $100,000 based on their student count. New Superintendent Kevin Dickerson inherited the previous Superintendent’s mess but is doing a decent job of putting the district back on solid ground. The district has 104 less students than they had four years ago and three less administrators making over $100,000. Continue reading Milford School District Salaries Over $100,000
As a protest is forthcoming tomorrow in front of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church due to the termination of the much-loved and respected Head of School Cindy Mann at Padua Academy, the Board of Trustees for the school sent out a letter today regarding their opinion of the firing. They do NOT agree with Father Nicholas Waseline’s decision yesterday.
The controversial decision, based on the firing of Mann because she would not allow Father Waseline to dip into the Padua Academy coffers, has caused a tremendous outcry from students, alumni, teachers, and even the former Head of School.
In a February news bulletin from their website, Father Waseline talks about his plan to pillage Padua’s finances to boost the parish. But what he has done is alienate parishioners, some of whom have sworn to stop giving to the parish until Mann is reinstated:
Excellence in education is recognized as a current and ongoing reality at Padua Academy. It is, without doubt, one of the best secondary schools in the region. Padua Academy retains its identity as a Parish School, even though 97% of the students who attend, and their families, are not parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua Parish. The school is well-positioned for success – it is professionally managed, financially viable and maintains an admissions waiting list. Most of the Academy graduates attend the best colleges and universities in the country and beyond. We are grateful for Padua Academy’s accomplishments and outstanding reputation. The financial corollary of the fact that only 3% of Padua’s students are parishioners is that virtually no financial support from a majority of student families flows to the parish in terms of offertory contributions. When the significant number of Padua students were parishioners, their families were regular financial contributors to the parish. With the current demographics of today’s Padua students and families in mind, the parish has determined that a “Stewardship Assessment” of Padua revenue will be established to restore the offertory income no longer available to the parish and reconcile the value of the Padua campus within the parish portfolio of assets.
Might want to rethink this one Father Waseline!
These five charter schools are very distinctive in one area: they all have low populations of special education students compared to their surrounding districts. But those aren’t the only comparisons among them. Two of them have school leaders that received salary bumps over $50,000 and then resigned or are set to retire. Pension law in Delaware sets your pension based on your three highest years of salary. Intentional? You be the judge.
These five charters range from near the top of Delaware in New Castle County all the way to the heart of Sussex County with one right near the middle in Kent. All of these charters have significant student enrollment and have taken many students from their surrounding school districts. They are also in very populous, and in some cases, fast growing areas of the state.
One of the southernmost districts in Delaware, Laurel school district’s population is increasing at a modest rate. But it also has a very large percentage of low-income students. As well, they are dealing with a fast growing population of English Language learners. Many districts in western Sussex county face the same issue with property assessments bearing a large burden on local taxpayers. The way the system was set up decades ago has winners and losers. For Laurel property owners, they lose big. As a result, the district is forced to tighten their money belt the same time their population is growing. Four years ago, only the Superintendent made over $100,000, now there are five. Continue reading Laurel School District Salaries Over $100,000
Lake Forest School District is in the northern part of Sussex County. Student enrollment hovers around the 3,800 mark each year. New Superintendent Brenda Wynder faces many of the same challenges other districts face in Sussex based on property assessments being among the lowest in Delaware. As a result, the district only has 12 administrators making over $100,000. Continue reading Lake Forest School District Salaries Over $100,000
Indian River School District, located in central Sussex County, has the least amount of administrators per student out of all the school districts in Delaware. The district has 1,000 more students than they did four years ago. With a growing population and over 10,400 students in the district, Indian River had to cut back on administrators back in the Fall of 2016 to avoid the state having to bail them out during a financial crisis. Their former leader, Susan Bunting, is now the Delaware Secretary of Education. Mark Steele leads the district now and has to deal with doing more with less. Compared to similar districts with student enrollment at that size, such as Appoquinimink and Brandywine, Indian River runs a tight ship these days. Indian River has a large number of English Language learners in the district and with a current lack of extra funding for those students, it can be tough. The district faced an investigative audit by the State Auditor’s Office at the same time they tried to pass a referendum. While the referendum did eventually pass, it caused the district to get their finances together fast!
The smallest school district in Delaware! Delmar is a very interesting district because it shares schools with another state, Maryland. As a result, students spend their school years in two states. I’ve never understood how or why the thing went down like it did. As a result, they run a tight ship and don’t go hog-wild on administrators. There are only three administrators making over $100,000 which is the same as four years ago. Their enrollment ebbs and flows around the 1,300 mark year after year. The Delaware side of the district has the middle school and high school while Maryland has the elementary schools. Continue reading Delmar School District Salaries Over $100,000
I underestimated Colonial School District for years. I always thought they were just kind of there and they were off my radar. I didn’t write much about them. Under the leadership of Superintendent Dusty Blakey, Colonial is changing before our very eyes. How and why is something I plan on writing much more about in the future. Colonial struggles to hit that 10,000 student mark. They face the same thing other districts up there do as they are surrounded by charter schools. Which baffles me why Blakey would push for the district to be an authorizer of Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security. But I digress. Colonial’s board is in for a massive shake-up in the upcoming school board election so it will be interesting to see where this district goes in the future. Blakey is everywhere these days, attending meetings in Dover all the time and pushing for public/private partnerships. But a growing discontent among teachers in his district may force Blakey to take a second look at his big push for more Relay Graduate School teachers. The district does have 6 less administrators making $100,000 and over than they did 4 years ago. Continue reading Colonial School District Salaries Over $100,000