I have officially seen it all! Kuumba Academy in Wilmington is planning on having students do a presentation to Capital One to raise money for a playground. Meanwhile, their enrollment has dropped by a fairly big percentage.
The projected costs of the playground for the Community Education Building, where Kuumba is located, are $125,000.00. The school has already raised $45,000 through fundraising efforts. At their last board meeting, a board member suggested students work on a presentation in the film and civic engagement portion of their classes. Then another board member said they can present their ideas to Capital One.
The Community Education Building is the entity asking Kuumba to pay for the playground even though they own the building. The only other charter school in the building is Great Oaks. The playground would be used by Kuumba.
I’m sorry, but since when do students spend school time to go to a bank to ask for money? Are the board members too lazy to do this kind of work themselves? This is something ANY school board should NOT do. While I think it is great students have civic engagement in classrooms, it should NOT be so the school can get more money. If the board or administrators want to engage in philanthropy efforts, go for it. If they want to ask parents for money, go for it! But I don’t think students should be used to do it. Just my two cents. I’m sure many will disagree with me on this and say it is a unique learning opportunity. I see it like this- teachers have most likely planned their curriculum for the year. To have the board or the Head of School say “you need to do this”, it puts the teachers in an awkward position. And what if Capital One says no to the funding? Would the teacher get blamed for that?
But Kuumba Academy is hurting. Only 79% of their students re-enrolled this school year. According to Head Of School Sally Maldonado, as written in their September board minutes, parents are taking their kids out of school for the following reasons- rigor, lack of rigor and behavior issues. One parent even said, “It’s too hard.”
As per an approved minor modification request in March, 2016, Kuumba was supposed to meet an enrollment of 755 students. As per their enrollment projections for their renewal process they were at 660 students but that number could have gone up to around 673 by the September 30th count according to Maldonado. She also said the school would lose $240,000 in funding based on the decreased enrollment.
It wasn’t that long ago that Kuumba was one of the “success stories” in Delaware charterville. Along with EastSide Charter, they were praised for their standardized test scores by the Delaware Department of Education and Governor Jack Markell. You really don’t hear much about that these days. Governor John Carney is not an education governor. Neither was Markell, but Jack could talk a big game.