The Red Clay Board of Education meeting the other night was one for the record books! The highlight of the meeting was the Charter School of Wilmington renewal discussion. Dr. Sam Paoli, the President of CSW, got drilled and grilled with a ton of questions about CSW’s demographics and recruitment efforts.
The absolute best part of the conversation was when Jose Matthews, the husband of Mike Matthews, the former President of the Delaware State Education Association, told Paoli the following:
“Congratulations on unionizing. I heard that you guys had a successful vote to join DSEA. I think that was incredible. I know DSEA has a lot of trainings, cultural competency trainings. Things that I think you, and your staff, will benefit from.”
To understand the significance of this, you have to understand that CSW teachers voting to unionize was a REALLY big deal. Along with Odyssey this year, this is the biggest push for charter school teachers unionizing in Delaware. And don’t think for one second there wasn’t significant retribution for those actions! (See Mike Matthews resignation from DSEA).
The board audio with the CSW renewal discussion starts at the 37:49 mark. It is standard charter renewal talk for the first 14 minutes or so. But then Red Clay board member Jose Matthews starts hammering Paoli with questions about diversity. His biggest gripe was the low number of Hispanic and low-income students at the “top-rated” charter school. That begins at the 57:00 mark.
Matthews asked “The President” about why they wanted a ten-year renewal. Paoli was whining about how labor-intensive the charter school renewal process is and that was the basis for them wanting a ten-year renewal.
“I do think there are other methods of outreach to populations not attending your school.” Matthews cited CSW’s Hispanic population of 5% as opposed to Red Clay’s 27% according to figures on the DOE website. CSW’s population last year was actually 4.7%. Matthews also brought up the recommendations for the school from their last renewal to improve their populations of minorities and students with disabilities to mirror the rest of Red Clay’s schools. Paoli responded they have absolutely done that. One thing CSW has done is turn their school into an entirely Red Clay school.
The school got a meets with a special asterisk after it for their finances. The asterisk was because of their very large cash-in-hand balance. We call that petty cash. I talked about this the other night. They got their asterisk because they have too much in their petty cash account. Red Clay recommends not having more than $500. The State of Delaware recommends not having more than $5,000. Charter School of Wilmington has $70,000 according to board member Cathy Thompson. That came at the 56:35 mark for that discussion. “That’s a lot,” said Thompson. You bet it is! And they know this. Later on in the conversation, Paoli explained how their Chief Financial Officer, Jed Desmond, was unable to attend the meeting. He briefly said they were “uh, student club fees and we’re addressing it”. What kind of “student club fees” generate $70,000???? And why is the school, KNOWING it is wrong, continuing to thumb their noses up in the air?
I can’t wait for the vote on CSW’s renewal! That will come next month.