Breaking News: The Olympics Are Coming To Delaware!

Yes, you heard it right.  The Olympics are coming to Delaware.  Or, to be more specific, to Barley Mill Plaza!  Odyssey Charter School, in celebration of their 10th Anniversary, is bringing the Olympic Torch to Delaware.  I just have one question though…  If this is to benefit Odyssey Charter School, why are folks asked to make checks out to the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) and not directly to Odyssey Charter School?  Does that mean the schools get all the money from these sponsorships for their 5k Run/Walk on September 24th?  Awesome!  But when I went to the website included in the press release (seen below) to register, it doesn’t give an online option to register.  You can only mail checks to the AHEPA Wilmington Chapter.  Wow! I can’t wait to see how much revenue they raise for the school!

AHEPA Wilmington Chapter 95
PRESS RELEASE
August 1, 2016
(For Immediate Distribution)
THE OLYMPIC TORCH LIGHTS UP
ODYSSEY CHARTER SCHOOL

In this Olympic year, Odyssey Charter School (OCS) is proud to bring the Olympic Torch and the Spirit and the Ideals of the Games, straight from Ancient Olympia, Greece to Delaware for the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Founding of the school and the Dedication of its new Barley Mill Campus.  Olympians from the United States and Greece, along with US, Greek and Delaware Dignitaries, will be on hand to join in the Dedication, Annual 5k Race and celebration on September 24th, 2016.

FESTIVITIES IN GREECE (Completed – June 2016)
Starting in June 2016 in Ancient Olympia, Greece, members and athletes from the Greek Olympic Committee, the Hellenic Athletics Federation, along with the Mayor of the City of Ancient Olympia, Public School Principals, and Students participated in the following events at the Ancient Olympic site:

  • The Mayor of the City of Ancient Olympia gifted an authentic Olympic Torch to be delivered to Odyssey Charter School for the re-enactment of the lighting of the Olympic Flame, which symbolizes peace, unity, friendship, respect, excellence, fair play and joy in competition.
  •  In the ancient tradition, students from Olympia, Greece created wreaths using branches from the olive groves of Ancient Olympia.
  • The Mayor of Ancient Olympia and dignitaries presented the Olympic Torch and olive wreaths to Greek athletes, who will deliver them to Odyssey Charter School at the September 24, 2016 celebration.
  • Pledging the Olympic Oath, athletes and dignitaries paid tribute to Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, at his tomb in Ancient Olympia.
  • Officially recognized the “twinning” – creation of sister schools –  of Elementary, Middle and High Schools in Ancient Olympia with Odyssey Charter School in Wilmington, DE.
  • In the tradition of the modern Olympic Games, athletes carried the torch from Olympia, with stops at a number of    historic sites in Greece including the Panathenaic Stadium and the Parthenon.
  • The Olympic Torch and wreaths will next travel from the Athens to Wilmington in the company of Greek Government officials, dignitaries, and athletes.
  • A production company is creating a commemorative documentary film of all festivities and events.
  • Major funding for this event has been provided by two Greek Corporate Sponsors, “Real Greek Artisan” and                “The Hellenic Protein Group”.
 FESTIVITIES IN THE U.S. (September 24, 2016)

The AHEPA Wilmington Chapter 95, in conjunction with the Odyssey Charter School’s PTO and volunteers, will hold the following activities on September 24:

10:00 AM OPENING CEREMONY

Olympic Parade of Nations by students
Debut of the documentary film showcasing the events held in June in Greece
Arrival of the two athletes from Greece bearing the Torch and the Olympic wreaths to the Odyssey Campus
Olympic Torch relay by dignitaries and members of the school community
Singing of the Olympic Hymn and the United States and Greek National Anthems
Lighting of Odyssey’s Olympic Cauldron and welcoming the Olympic Flame with special performances
Recognition of dignitaries and friends of the School
Official dedication of the Odyssey School Campus at Barley Mill
Implementation of the official fraternal “twinning” of Odyssey and the schools of Ancient Olympia
12:00 NOON – 10th ANNUAL 5K RUN
Medal ceremony for the 5K winners and awarding of olive wreaths

The Order of AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (www.ahepa.org), founded in 1922, is the oldest and largest Greek-American organization in the United States.
AHEPA members are proud of the unparalleled contributions of the ancient Greeks to Western Civilization. As Americans, we share fundamental values they revered: civic responsibility, philanthropy, education, family, individual excellence, and the ideals of democracy.
Odyssey Charter School of Wilmington.
In 2006, Odyssey Charter School (http://odysseycharterschooldel.com/index.html) opened its doors as Delaware’s first mathematics-focused, bi-lingual (English and Modern Greek) elementary education charter school. A rigorous standards-based curriculum and instruction in the Greek language is delivered in a challenging, yet nurturing learning environment.
Odyssey offers its students strong academics, insight into the classical learning ideals of Hellenism, a small-school environment, and a fresh approach to learning.

 For more information contact: Dimitri Dandolos  dimitri@ecologosinc.com or 302-983-1883
The AHEPA
10th Annual Olympic 5K Run/Walk
at the Barley Mill School CampusSaturday, September 24, 2016

The Olympic Flame and Ideals
Travel from Ancient Olympia, Greece
To Wilmington, Delaware
To Celebrate
The 10th Anniversary of the Founding of Odyssey
And the Dedication of the Barley Mill Campus

Ceremonies and Olympic Festivities
10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon

  • Athletes from Greece to present the Olympic Torch on Campus
  • Parade of the Olympic Flag by Students
  •  Lighting of the Olympic Flame
  • Twinning of Odyssey with Schools from Ancient Olympia
  • Official Dedication of the Campus
  • Greek Lunch and Refreshments
 and
The 10th Annual 5K Run/Walk
Registration 11:15 AM – Race Starts 12:15 PMTo benefit The Odyssey Charter School of Wilmington

Race Top Winners will Receive Olive Wreaths from Ancient Olympia
Complimentary T-shirts to the first 300 participants

On line Registration at www.races2run.com

By mail registration:
A.H.E.P.A. 5K Run
Odyssey Charter School of Wilmington
4319 Lancaster Pike, Wilmington, DE 19805-1512

THE OLYMPIC FLAME AND IDEALS
TRAVEL FROM ANCIENT OLYMPIA, GREECE
TO WILMINGTON, DELAWARE
TO CELEBRATETHE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDING OF
ODYSSEY CHARTER SCHOOL
AND
THE DEDICATION OF THE BARLEY MILL CAMPUS
SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

GRAND SPONSOR:            $5,000

  • Company representative to present awards at the post-race ceremony
  • Sponsor’s logo on registration forms distributed throughout area
  • Sponsor’s logo on banner displayed prominently at race picnic
  • Sponsor’s logo to appear prominently on Official 5K T-shirt
  • Entry Fee waived for 10 athletes

FINISH LINE SPONSOR:             $950

  • Company representative at finish line.
  • Sponsor’s logo displayed on finish line material pole/tape
  • Sponsor’s logo to appear on Official 5K T-shirt
  • Prominent display of Sponsor’s sign or banner at race finish line
  • Entry Fee waived for 5 athletes

AWARDS SPONSOR:              $495

  • All references to awards, in event-related print materials and at the   post-race picnic, will mention, “Awards presented by Sponsor”
  • Sponsor to be recognized during the presentation of all appropriate athletic awards distributed at post-race picnic
  • Sponsor’s logo to appear on Official 5K T-shirt
  • Prominent display of Sponsor’s sign or banner at race check-in and post-race picnic
  • Entry Fee waived for 3 athletes

REGISTRATION SPONSOR:    $249

  • Display of Sponsor’s sign or banner displayed prominently at registration
  • Sponsor’s logo to appear on Official 5K T-shirt
  • Entry Fee waived for 2 athletes
MILE MARKER SPONSOR:    $100
  • Sponsor’s name imprinted on a mile marker sign
The AHEPA 10th Annual Olympic 5K Run/Walk
Celebrating the Olympic Flame and Ideals
Saturday, September 24, 2016Location: Odyssey School    Contact: Dimitri Dandolos
Barley Mill Campas              302-983-1883

dimitri@ecologosinc.com

To Benefit:     Odyssey Charter School of Wilmington

Sponsorship Form

Please print Sponsor name exactly as you wish to be listed on promotional materials.

Sponsor _____________________________________________________________

Address _____________________________________________________________

City _________________________ State ______  Zip_____________

Phone ________________________

Fax_________________________________

Contact

Name ____________________________

Email ____________________________

____Grand Sponsor ($5,000)

____Finish Line Sponsor ($950)

____Awards Sponsor ($495)

____Registration Sponsor ($249)

____Mile Marker Sponsor ($100)

____Prize and or Donation ($25- $99)

Total Due$_____________

Signature ______________________________________

PLEASE RETURN COMPLETED FORM TO:
AHEPA
Odyssey Charter School
4319 Lancaster Pike, Wilmington, DE 19805-1512
MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO AHEPA, Chapter #95

My Guess? Odyssey Has Issues With Women On Their Board…

The Board of Directors at Odyssey Charter School in Wilmington, DE clearly does not benefit from having their members publicly elected.  Especially if you are a woman.  Like something taken out of the late 19th Century, Odyssey seems to be very comfortable with discussing the downplaying of females on their board.  There are nine members on Odyssey’s board but five are made of representation from the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association.  Yes, they have the word Progressive in their title.  But you wouldn’t know it based on the below conversation at their May 2016 board meeting.  I really can’t wait to hear charter board meetings when the audio recording law takes effect at the start of this school year!

OdysseyMayBdMtgPt1

But the kicker is that this board can never be dominated by women.  Why?  Because of “The Brotherhood”…

OdysseyBdMtgPart2

How can you call yourself progressive but limit the role of women in a governing body?  Has this board forgotten about civil rights and equality?  Did they know very important rules passed in this country regarding women’s rights?  It isn’t just women that are reduced on this board.  We see a very clear disliking of their Parent Teacher Organization as well.   Guess how many women joined their board the next month?  A big fat zero!  I’m not sure what their male: female ratio is on their board now.  I know they had 3 out of 9 women on the board prior to this vote.  I can’t wait to hear Odyssey’s board meetings.  I’m assuming they don’t pay their bills with Susan B. Anthony coins…

Odyssey’s Future Tied To Their Bondholder

Odyssey Charter School looks to have their hands tied by their current bondholder.  If they do not score well on their next financial performance framework, the bondholder will step in to intervene at the school.  The school submitted a minor modification request to increase their numbers by a shade below 15%.  Normally, that type of request doesn’t require a full-blown Charter School Accountability Committee (CSAC) hearing, but it is at the Secretary of Education’s discretion.  Godowsky wanted that, and here we are.  Who did the school call to help them out with their struggling money issues?  Below is the initial report from CSAC.

State Board Of Education Preview: WEIC, Assessments, Teacher Evaluations, Charter Modifications, And Maybe One Illegal Request

strategic%20plan%20graphic2014

At 9am this morning, the Delaware State Board of Education will have their first meeting of 2016.  Normally these meetings are at 1pm, but since Governor Markell has to give his big speech across the street at 2pm, they are having it earlier.  I thought they would make it a light schedule for this meeting because of the time change and the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission vote, but I was very wrong.  There is a lot going on at this meeting.  So being the good little blogger I am, I thought I would just go ahead and put up everything going on!  To get to the potentially illegal thing, you have to go all the way to the bottom… Continue reading “State Board Of Education Preview: WEIC, Assessments, Teacher Evaluations, Charter Modifications, And Maybe One Illegal Request”

Odyssey Charter School And Other “Successful” Charters Want Money To Grow

Matthew Albright with the Delaware News Journal wrote an article today about Delaware charters, and centered on Odyssey Charter School.  Delaware charter schools face obstacles to growth is the name of the article.  I think it’s funny, because many disadvantaged students face obstacles to getting into these “dream” charters like Odyssey, Charter School of Wilmington, Newark Charter School and Sussex Academy.  Their student populations always have less African-Americans, students with disabilities and low-income students than those around them.  And their cheerleaders always say the same thing: “Their lotteries determine who gets in.”  Yeah, and I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

School leaders and parents at successful Delaware charter schools say the state can and should do more to help them grow.  While understanding that the Department of Education has to crack down on charters showing evidence of financial mismanagement or a failure to provide high quality education, parents and educators wonder: If a school has top test scores, deep community connections and parents clamoring for expansion, can’t the state help?

Did Publius from Kilroy’s Delaware write this article?  If a charter school has “top test scores”, which doesn’t mean squat to me because I don’t value any standardized test score as a true measurement of any school, than they have trimmed the fat and picked the better students and essentially recruited (stolen) them from their local districts.

Albright talks about Odyssey’s latest money problems, something I wrote about six days ago.  But of course, Albright, being a reporter for a somewhat major metropolitan newspaper would get more information.  I’m just a blogger!  Should Odyssey get more money from the state?  Hell no!  Charters wanted to have it their way, but when they can’t get things their way, they call the State.  Enough.  They get more financial perks from non-profits and loop-holes in the budget to make up for what they don’t get from the state.

Charter skeptics maintain that the state shouldn’t spend a cent more on charters while traditional school districts cry out for more resources to serve at-risk students. They argue charters don’t serve enough of the kids who need the state’s help the most, and every dollar that goes to a charter is a dollar less for districts charged with that mission.

Damn straight!  Some schools are literally falling apart, and Odyssey and other charters want more?  After they have siphoned money and students away from their local districts?  Sorry, you missed the boat.  Why don’t they call the Longwood Foundation?  They are always giving away money to charters.  Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko got the Albright call and didn’t mince words:

“Until you can prove to me, and I mean show me proof on a piece of paper, that these schools are taking in the same kind of students as our districts and doing a better job, then maybe we have a different discussion,” Kowalko said. “Until then, it is unconscionable for us to be sending additional taxpayer dollars to them.”

Why would we give more money to a school that is facing this on their latest financial framework with the DOE:

The problems reported include deficits, high debt-to-asset ratios, low cash reserves and negative cash flow over the past three years.

So we give them a get out of jail free card while Christina bleeds?  I don’t see the state rushing to help them.  And the article even has Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network joining the fray!  I’m not sure when she finally figured out there were other schools in Delaware aside from charters, but I’m not sure I buy what she wrote:

“If any public school, not just a charter, is doing great things for kids, we should be enabling them to do more of it,” Massett said. “Odyssey is a great example of that.”

The timing on this is impeccable.  The DOE and Donna Johnson will be presenting to the State Board on the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities.  This is the strategy to “determine how charters operate in Delaware” along with all the other great programs our schools offer.  Another US DOE non-regulatory non-Congressionally approved “suggestion”.

During the last legislative session, lawmakers approved a moratorium on new charters until June of 2018, or until the state finishes a comprehensive strategic plan that would address how charters fit into the state’s overall public education system.

If anyone really thinks there will be a moratorium on charters until 2018, they are smoking something funny.  Once the State Board celebrates Donna and the DOE’s hard work and does their high-five party, the charter applications will flow.

Odyssey Charter Pauses On Their Journey To Expand

Odyssey Charter was supposed to have an Open House for their 9th grade choice enrollment a couple weekends ago.  It was abruptly postponed.  Apparently the school is not quite ready to expand into the high school arena.  Sources tell me they are having some bond issues to finance the new building.  Nothing major, but a letter is supposed to be going out to parents according to a dad I spoke with.  They do have a tentative open house scheduled for next year’s 9th graders in December.  I’m sure it is something that will be worked out, they just need some additional time to get everything sorted out.  The deadline for choice enrollment is January 13th, 2016.  If they are unable to get it all fixed by then, they may have to delay their high school for another year.

Odyssey Charter School Applies For Performance Fund $$$ They Don’t Even Qualify For!!!!

Last, but not least (well, it is in terms of the odds of them getting a penny from the Charter School Performance Fund), is Odyssey Charter School.  They don’t qualify for this because they were on probation during this fiscal year.  But that doesn’t stop them from applying anyway!  So let’s see what they wanted to get with this phantom money:

And we can’t forget the phantom budget!

So let me get this straight, they have a $500,000 shortfall in their capital budget for this building, they are already overbudget by $700,000 in their regular expenses (see last week’s Odyssey article), and whoever wrote this application doesn’t seem to be aware DCAS is no longer the state standardized assessment.  One word: INTERVENTION!

Odyssey Charter School Having Huge Problems, Spent $700,000 Over Budget This Year

It looks like Odyssey Charter School is having some pretty major financial problems in Delaware.   Following many other charters in the past couple years, Odyssey somehow managed to spend $700,000 over their budget this year.

Some highlights from the below board meeting minutes from 5/13/15:

-They spelled “Public” wrong…

-This school continues to run their board meetings like a corporate board meeting and very little is discussed about actual academics at the school, in fact the word “student” is never even mentioned…

-Jennifer Nagourney from the Delaware DOE Charter School Office attended the meeting and reminded the board to make sure they are following FOIA regulations, she also asked the board to give her good news about the school so she can report it to the State Board of Education…

-The board told the administration they need to look at cutting all expenses…

What was the deal with Headmaster Nick Manolakos unbudgeted salary change?  It was rumored he was looking to leave last winter and that he applied for the Providence Creek Academy Principal position.

Could Odyssey be one of the four unmentioned Delaware charter schools being investigated at the State Auditor office?

Will Odyssey Charter School Headmaster Swim Downstream?

My mole in the Delaware charter school community has informed me Odyssey Charter School Headmaster Dr. Nick Manolakos has applied for the position of Head of School at Providence Creek Academy in Clayton, DE.  This would be an interesting move for Manolakos.  Does this mean all Providence Creek kids will be required to learn Greek?  From the parents I know at this school, they will be less than thrilled at that prospect!

From the Odyssey Charter School PTO Facebook page, there is now a Move On petition to renew Manolakos’ contract at Odyssey. So I went to check the link, and sure enough, there it is: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/renew-dr-manolakos-ocs?source=c.em.mt&r_by=12008808

Renew Dr. Manolakos’ OCS Employment Contract

To be delivered to OCS School Board

Petition Statement

The Parents of Odyssey Charter School strongly urge that the Odyssey School Board renew Dr. Nick Manolakos’ employment contract immediately. The OCS Parents want to ensure Dr. Manolakos remains the leader of our school as we grow into a full K-12 school.
There are currently 284 signatures. NEW goal – We need 300 signatures!
Petition Background

Odyssey Charter School is an outstanding school with high academic performance and a supportive community of students, families and faculty.

This is in no small part due to our leader, Dr. Nick Manolakos. The OCS Parents highly value the culture he has created, the leadership he has demonstrated and the academic achievement he has driven.

Because of this, the OCS Parents do not want to lose Dr. Manolakos. Therefore the OCS Parents want the OCS School Board to renew Dr. Manolakos’ employment contract.

Thanks!!
Jen Ballas, PTO Board Rep
Kate Klemas, OCS Parent at Large Board Rep
Shelly Towler, PTO President