We got a full house here at Legislative Hall. Seems a lot of suits showed up for this impromptu meeting. But who is on the Delaware School District School District Consolidation Task Force?
Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting
Jon Sheehan (Education Policy Advisor for Governor Carney)
State Rep. Earl Jaques
State Rep. Joe Miro
Senator David Sokola
Senator Brian Pettyjohn
Woodbridge Superintendent Heath Chasanov
Caesar Rodney Superintendent Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald
Colonial Superintendent Dr. Dusty Blakey
Director of OMB Mike Jackson
DSEA Representative Jeff Taschner
DSBA Representative John Skrobot
GACEC Representative Robert Overmiller
Delaware PTA President Dr. Terri Hodges
New Castle Co. Parent Rep. Nacole Gardner
Kent Co. Parent Rep. Loretta Greig
Sussex Co. Parent Rep. Lauren Hudson
Vo-Tech School Districts Parent Rep. Mark Dufendach
Wilmington City Council Rep. Hanifa Shabazz
New Castle Co. Executive Matthew Meyer
Kent Co. Designee Michael Petit DeMange
Sussex Co. Designee Gina Jennings
State Rep. Earl Jaques ran introductions. He said there will be a lot of hard work for this committee. He is hopeful the report will be done by January but he doubts it. Everyone, members and audience members, introduced themselves. Jaques said there are 22 members on the task force, not 23. He said this task force is not just about money. If we aren’t putting children first none of that matters. That’s because the Charter Schools Network rep. was voted out on June 30th since the charters didn’t want to be included in the conversation. Dr. Bunting is giving a history of past attempts at district consolidation. See the 2002 report (I will put a link up later).
Rep. Miro said there are districts across state lines that have a district with the same number of students as all of Delaware’s public school student count. He mentioned Fairfax County in Virginia. Miro is opening the floor for nominations for the Chair of the Task Force. A motion for State Rep. Earl Jaques to be the chair. Motion seconded. Only nomination. Jaques is the Chair. I am shocked (not).
There will be four sub-committees of the group:
Structure, Transportation and Manpower: led by Dr. Kevin Carson and assisted by Jaques
Financial: led by Fred Sears (think Rodel) and assisted by Mike Jackson, will deal with property assessments
Academic and Children Needs: led by Dr. Bunting and assisted by Rep. Miro
Teachers And Staff: led by Dusty Blakey, assisted by Jeff Taschner
These sub-committees will meet between meetings. Miro invited members of the public to sign up for the sub-committees as non-voting members. I actually signed up for the money sub-committee. Next meeting will be at Woodbridge High School at 6:30pm on September 18th. This will be down in Sussex County so you might want to leave early if you live up north. October 16th meeting at William Penn High School at 6:30pm. November 16th meeting at Caesar Rodney High School.
Jaques said this committee is not going to decide on closing schools. Their job is to figure out if it works or doesn’t work. I gave public comment urging more transparency for the group to which Jaques said that was his fault. I also urged the task force to make sure this is about students first and to have the State Auditor make sure they can properly audit funds that are already in play. Woodbridge Board Member Walter Gilefski said he is adamantly against district consolidation. Caesar Rodney teacher Natalie Ganc said she is here to check this out. She said she has a daughter in Smyrna School District and thinks they are awesome despite what I write about them.