In 2016, the Delaware State Board of Education approved a major modification request to lower their enrollment. This year, they are supposed to be at 475 students based on that approval. Charter schools have to be at 80% enrollment to be financially viable. That number would be 380 for Delaware Design-Lab High School this year. They are below 300 students according to sources. Will Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting recommend formal review for the struggling charter school?
The dangling carrot for Design-Lab is their $10 million prize from XQ. The school is currently interviewing positions for their three deans. But those funds can only be used for very specific purposes. It is not meant for salary increases for teachers. But according to an anonymous source, the Interim Head of School (Rebecca Collins) is promising teachers increases. How can the school afford this with their low enrollment? Many teachers are fearing for their jobs due to the school’s low enrollment. Since the Board of Directors ousted Dr. Joseph Mock a couple of weeks ago, a wave of parents have pulled their kids out. Their enrollment tally was due to the Delaware Department of Education on Friday because of the annual September 30th enrollment count.
Historically, the Delaware State Board of Education has put charters on formal review for low enrollment because below 80% charters are not financially viable. Many charters (including Design-Lab) faced this review in 2015. They all squeaked by with higher enrollment by the time the State Board voted that July.
For a charter like Design-Lab, they had their enrollment lowered after that and still can’t get anywhere close to their approved numbers. Many parents don’t seem to be wowed by the XQ award. Three different leaders have been in charge in the past nine months with another new one coming on. I did find out Rebecca Collins did step down from the board to take the interim leader role and plans to go back on the board once the new leader is in place. But Joseph Mock was definitely fired from his position.
At the Delaware DOE, charters are overseen by the Charter School Office. Since Denise Stouffer replaced Jennifer Nagourney in July, 2016, no charter schools have been placed on formal review. Will Delaware Design-Lab High School be the first?