Super Merv Stops Red Clay Board From Violating State Law

In the matter  of replacing former board member Mike Piccio’s seat last evening, the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education came very close to breaking the law.

A motion to appoint a replacement came up.  Delaware state law dictates that a school board shall replace a vacant board seat with an appointee until the next regular school board election.  Piccio’s former seat expires in 2019 so the new appointed board member would only serve on that seat for nine months.  The vote came…

Three board members voted yes and three voted no.  A tie vote meant the motion failed.  But it really shouldn’t have come up for a vote because of what exists in state code.  As well, it is also board police in conformity with state law.  State Rep. Kim Williams, who was in attendance at the meeting, immediately recognized the glaring error and immediately notified Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty.  As she wrote on Facebook at the time:

The Red Clay Board vote was 3 no to 3 yes to fill the vacant school board seat in District E. The motion failed because of a tie vote. The policy states the following: A vacancy for any reason other than the expiration of a term shall be filled by appointment for the remainder the fiscal year. A new member shall be elected at the next regular Board Election to fill the remainder of the previous member’s term.  They did not follow the board policy.

Daugherty forced the board to rescind their vote.  At this point, the Board is accepting letters of interest from those who reside in the Wilmington nominating district.

The board voted for the President and Vice-President titles.  Martin Wilson is the new President and Faith Newton is the Vice-President.  The board will vote on the appointee for Piccio’s seat at their October board meeting.

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Red Clay Mom Against Bullying Releases Many New Videos…Time To Step Up Red Clay!!!

Twelve days ago, I put up a post about a Mom taking on Red Clay’s “Zero Tolerance Against Bullying”.  Apparently the situation is not getting better and the mom released a bunch of new videos.  This is one mom I wouldn’t mess with Merv!

Red Clay Schools Continue To Openly Defy Their Own Board of Education With Opt Out Threats

I sent the following email to the entire Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education and Dr. Merv Daugherty, the Superintendent of the district.  I am posting the email because I have heard similar complaints from parents several times since the Smarter Balanced Assessment came out in 2015.  What is the point of having a policy if the schools ignore it?

Questions About Due Process Surround AI duPont Basketball Team Suspension

A group of parents demanded answers today from Red Clay Consolidated School District officials regarding the suspension of the basketball team from their last game and the playoffs.  As I wrote yesterday, the team was suspended when they got off their bench at the end of a game after they were told not to.  Allegations of racial slurs have been central to this matter but neither Red Clay or Delaware Military Academy have said anything in an official capacity that these epithets came out despite numerous witnesses coming forward on Facebook, comments on Delaware Online, and witnesses that have come forward to Red Clay officials.  Now those parents are demanding the suspension decision be rescinded based on what they are perceiving to be a lack of due process based on policies within Red Clay.  The following letter was sent to the district today.  As well, Red Clay board member Adriana Bohm asked the district to rescind their decision.

**Updated, 4:25pm: According to The News Journal, the district may reconsider the team’s suspension for their remaining game and the playoffs.  Still no response from Commandant Pullella at Delaware Military Academy.

https://www.scribd.com/document/340126552/Appeal

Is The DOE About To Dump 7 Christina Schools On Red Clay? Does WEIC Know About This?

Red Clay taxpayers beware: You might get a sticker shock on a future tax bill!  The Delaware Department of Education issued a Request For Proposal on November 28th for a “time sensitive” Facilities Condition Evaluation of all the Christina schools based in Wilmington.  While I initially thought this could have been related to Christina’s recent mold issues, I found this went much deeper than that.  Is this some type of surprise announcement that will come in John Carney’s State of the State address?

The schools that will be evaluated are Bancroft Elementary School, Bayard Middle School, Elbert Palmer Elementary School, Pulaski Elementary School, Stubbs Elementary School, Douglass School, and the Sarah Pyle Academy.  Even the district office at the Drew Education Support Center is on the list!  The smoking gun is this part:

Develop cost estimates to bring each of the above listed facilities to a similar state and with the same control systems such as building controls, camera systems, keysets, alarm, access control, phones, tech. infrastructure (switches), and wifi as Highlands Elementary School, 2100 Gilpin Avenue; Shortledge Elementary School, 100 West 18th Street; Lewis Dual Language Elementary School, 920 North Van Buren Street; Baltz Elementary School, 1500 Spruce Avenue; and DuPont Middle School, 3130 Kennett Pike.

Those are all Red Clay schools.  If this were just some random facilities evaluation, there is no way there would be something to bring Christina schools up to Red Clay specifications.  There is going to be a big move coming soon!

Identical to the process and methodology followed for typical school facilities assessment work, the assessment will identify any potential issues related to major building systems and building components such as the building envelope/structure, roofing, HVAC/mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, telecommunications, and security systems as well as any site improvements required to the immediate surrounding area for building access. Data generated from this effort will:

• Evaluate the above listed schools in 1. facility condition indices as compared to RCCSD facilities as listed in 2.

• Identify and prioritize required short and long term improvements

• Identify code compliance, accessibility and system coordination issues requiring immediate attention

• Identify potential energy conservation opportunities

But does the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission know about this?  They are having a regular commission meeting next Wednesday at Warner Elementary School.  If they don’t, boy are they in for a surprise!

As well, it looks like the Delaware Autism Program could be shifted to Red Clay as well:

Prepare a design analysis for the Christina Administrative space, Douglas Alternative School, Sarah Pyle Program and Delaware Autism Program as currently located in one of the buildings listed above.

Who is the driving force behind this?  If it is John Carney, he may want to open with a huge splash by finally giving the civil rights advocates in Wilmington their hearts desire.  But if this is his move, it would also be a huge smack in the face to the Red Clay taxpayers.  Carney was very wishey-washey during his campaign about what he would do with the WEIC redistricting plan.  He hinted at liking some of it but not all of it.  But WEIC Chair Tony Allen is on his transition team.  If Carney pulls this off without the General Assembly he risks alienating many of State Reps and Senators.  Which may not work out in his favor with the special election for Bethany Hall-Long’s seat.  That race will determine whether the Democrats or Republicans control the Delaware Senate.

Another option is Governor Jack Markell.  With the time sensitive status around this and a due date for bids of December 13th, could he have the gumption to stick it to Christina one last time before he leaves office?  While ticking off the taxpayers at the same time?

The RFP was authored by a Renee Harris.  The only thing I found on her while doing a Google search and a State of Delaware search was related to the Tobacco Settlement from the Delaware Attorney General’s office.

No matter what this is, it is going to be something that will change the Wilmington education landscape.  There is absolutely no way the DOE would issue an RFP like this without something waiting in the wings.  The WEIC redistricting plan was put on hold for a year.  The state isn’t overflowing in cash right now either.

**UPDATED** 12:35pm, 12/2/16: Senate Bill 300 with House Amendment 1 was what allowed the WEIC Redistricting Plan to survive.  But there is key language in the amendment put forth by State Rep. Kim Williams:

The amendment removes language obligating the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and affected school districts to develop, before February 2017, a detailed assessment of the impact of transitioning City of Wilmington Students from the Christina School District to the Red Clay Consolidated School District. Such detailed assessment would require development of school- and student-level changes that require public input and facility analysis that cannot be completed in the timeframes in the original bill. Instead, they should be undertaken as part of the planning phase for redistricting upon commitment of necessary and sufficient funding. The amendment preserves appropriation of $200,000 to continue the work related to the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, including analysis of fiscal impacts, and language clarifying and ensuring that any additional state funding requires further action of the General Assembly.

That date of February 2017 flies in the face of this RFP.  I would strongly consider a “Facilities Evaluation” part of a “detailed assessment of the impact…” for the WEIC plan.  The amendment does not include the Delaware DOE though.  But the original WEIC bills from 2015 do not give the Delaware DOE to have this much involvement.  Something is happening…

**UPDATED** 2:04pm, 12/2/16: If you read the fiscal note for Senate Bill 200, it states the following:

  1. This Act is effective upon signature of the Governor.
  2. This Act provides a supplemental appropriation of $200,000 to establish the Wilmington Redistricting Transition Fund to assess the fiscal impact of transitioning City of Wilmington students from the Christina School District to the Red Clay Consolidated School District. The funding is to be used by the Red Clay Consolidated School District, in consultation with the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and the Christina School District, for the assessment in which said assessment is to be substantially completed on or before January 31, 2017.
  3. This Act also establishes a working group to review the fiscal impact assessment that is prepared by the Red Clay Consolidated School District in consultation with the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and the Christina School District. The Department of Education is to provide staff support to the working group, upon request, and it is assumed that the Department will provide this support within existing resources. The working group shall submit its review by March 31, 2017 to the Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives and President Pro Tempore of the Senate.
  4. Funding is set aside in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget process in the amount of $200,000.

But once again, that due date was changed based on House Amendment #1 to the bill.  So, once again, why is the DOE issuing an RFP with a submission due date for bids of 12/13/16 and labeling this as “time sensitive”?  The key words in the amendment are this- “commitment of necessary and sufficient” funding.  The amendment states this work should not take place until a time when that commitment is assured.  No budget proposal will come out until towards the end of January.  And a budget proposal does nothing until the General Assembly approves it.  So even if folks are saying this is part of the $200,000 allocated to WEIC as a result of SB300, it appears the amendment is being completely ignored.  The bill was dead before the amendment.  The amendment saved WEIC.  I am not convinced of anything I am hearing at this point.  Whomever is directing these actions is breaking the law.

**UPDATED** 2:16pm, 12/2/16: Upon further analysis of the above amendment, it states the type of work included in this RFP should be done during the “planning phase” of the redistricting plan.  As per the plan approved by the State Board of Education, the timeline consists of the following:

December 17, 2015 to June 30, 2016 Approval Stage

July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 Planning Stage

July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 Transition Stage

July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 Implementation Stage

But because the General Assembly did not pass the legislation that would make the redistricting plan happen, they instead bumped it up a year.  So the Planning Stage of July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 is no longer in place.  The amendment is very clear about what should happen during this stage.  That planning stage can’t begin again until July 1, 2017 if the General Assembly allows for that to happen based on signed legislation.  I’m just a blogger without the legal expertise the WEIC and DOE attorneys would have.  But if I can clearly see that the law is not being followed, they would assuredly know.

To read the RFP, please read below:

 

 

Red Clay Piloting Common Core Standards-Based Report Cards

Standards-Based report cards are here.  Three schools in the Delaware Red Clay Consolidated School District, Cooke, Forest Oak, and Richey are beginning a pilot program this year for 2nd and 3rd Grade.  The plan is to have standards-based report cards for all elementary grades, K-5, by 2019.  Modeled after the Smarter Balanced “scores”, the goal is to align report cards with the Common Core standards.  Really Red Clay?  Really?  It was bad enough when you took on Standards-Based IEPs, now this?

redclaysbrcrationale

redclaystandardsbasedtimeplan

redclaysbrcwhatis

redclaysbrclearningbehaviors

redclaysbrcprogresskey

This is something Rodel has pushed for years through their plan for Competency-Based Education in Delaware (now the subject of a series I’ve been working on).  Note how the schools beginning this pilot aren’t exactly “struggling schools”, like the three priority schools in Wilmington.  This is how these kin of pilots go.  The suburban parents will lap it up because it is new and exciting.  The district will tell the board, “Look at this resounding success,” and lo and behold it is a part of the entire district.  I’m sure the Delaware DOE and Rodel were going “cha-ching” when they heard this.  Or perhaps they pushed Red Clay towards this.

Just another way Rodel has completely taken over education in Delaware.  Rodel estimated up to ten school districts and charters will implement these Common Core report cards this year.  I have to say I’m disappointed with Red Clay for drinking the Rodel Kool-Aid.  What are they thinking?  First they joined BRINC, now it’s 1:1 devices for all students and this.  Should they change their name to Rodel Consolidated School District?

 

Jack Wells Shows Red Clay Support Salaries Far Exceed Any District In Delaware… And They Need More Money?

I really have to catch up on my email!  Jack Wells sent another Red Clay money email and this one is very illuminating:

The information provided below shows the  spending on salaries for Supervisors General Support by the Red Clay School Board.  This type of spending is an example of why Delaware Ranks 40th in Education and 14th in “Total Current Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Day Schools per students.  Does anyone except the members of  Red Clay School Board believe this is the most effective use of $3.1 million dollars?

How is it possible that one district, in this case Red Clay can spend more on salaries for Supervisors General Support than all the school districts in either Kent or Sussex Counties, over a million dollars.  It is possible because in Delaware  providing local school boards the authority to spend public funds without any oversight, without being required to provide justification or without any requirement to inform the residents is more important than  ensuring $2.4 Billion annually is used effectively so our children will receive the greatest opportunity to receive the best education possible.  

Spending          Percent of

       On           Salaries Funded

   Salaries       From State Funds

       95,503           70.9           Appoquinimink

1,024,330         35.7               BSD

1,222,845         47.5               CSD

   666.990         28.1               Colonial

   722,523         53.0               NCCVT

3,197,002         18.1               RCCSD

6,929,193        Total

 

   469,018        52.2               Cape Henlopen

   103,309        80.5               Delmar

  469,057        56.9               IRSD

   170,777        37.5               Laurel

   643,009        36.3               Seaford

     78,617        54.0               Sussex Tech

   314,969        46.0               Woodbridge

2,248,756   Total

  

   525,104       70.0               Caesar Rodney

   600,593       66.9               Capital

   418,992       40.3               Lake Forest

     24,705       82.1               Milford

   217,755       42.7               Poly Tech

  275,040       86.1               Smyrna

2,962,189      Total

 

While the money of the hard working taxpayers are wasted, it is the “children” who are denied the opportunities to receive the best education possible.  Unfortunately power to the school boards is more important than education opportunities.  

How and where are we expending over $2.4 billion annually for the education of our children?  Since Delaware is ranked 40th in Education and 14th in total current expenditures, you would think, my question would be the battle cry of our education decision makers, unfortunately their battle cry is, we need more money if you want us to fund our schools based on the needs of our children.

Here is where in just 2 account codes, the Red Clay School Board expended $14,498,184 in 2014-2015, an increase of $12,479,933 over 2006-2007.  I believe if our legislators are going to do what is best for our children, than they must require the Red Clay School Board to provide an explanation/justification for this spending.  Unfortunately in Delaware, school boards are authorized to spend millions without justification or informing the community.  

     Total                    Total                Increase         % Salaries    Federal Funds

Compensation  Compensation           in                Funded by      Expended

  6/30/2014            6/30/2006      Expenditures  State Funds     6/30/2014

 4,571,712              2,018,251          2,553,461         18.1              2,858,733       Supervisors

 9,926,472                  none               9,926,472         29.6              2,709,089       Salaries General

14,498,184              2,018,251        12,479,933                               5,567,822

 

Comments:

A.      The job title Salaries General was created when our state implemented the Statewide Financial Management System. It was created to be used by our school boards when they create positions that are not identified by the State.  When I compared the old and new system, the only positions I could identify that were deleted were those used for transportation. Those implementing the new system did not want the public to know the cost of transportation. Why would they not want the public to know the cost of transportation? Answer: Those making the decision did not want the public to know how many millions were/are being expended on transportation for activities.

B.      Except for bus drivers and bus aides I believe most of the employees being charged to Salaries General work above the school level, in any case they are not teachers, paraprofessionals, and other school level employees. The districts salary scales show positons like Education Associate with 6 digit salaries that are not identified by the state.  The board establishes these 6 digit salaries without providing justification or informing the residents. I strongly oppose allowing 4 elected officials to create these positions and these salaries without justification or informing the community, NOW THAT IS POWER OVER PUBLIC FUNDS.

C.      The percent of state funding supporting these positions clearly show Red Clay has determined more overhead is required than determined by the state, once again no justification required.

D.      Expending $5,567,822 from federal funds that are mostly earned by our low income and special needs children, than informing the community, we have no money to fund the needs of our schools, requires an explanation.  Why are these funds not being used to hire employees for our schools? 

We have a choice, continue to allow school boards to spend money without justification and without informing the community, or require accountability on how and where districts are using $2.4 billion annually. I vote for accountability. Why? That is what is best for our children.

Being ranked 40th in Education and 14th in Total Current Expenditures is a disgrace.  Is this the best we can do for our children, if so, shame on us.

Jack Wells

 

Red Clay Senior Citizens Vehemently Oppose WEIC Plan, Also: What Is The $3.8 Million Dollar Question?

In reading the public comment for the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s Interim Redistricting Plan to be voted on by the Delaware State Board of Education on January 21st, I noticed many things.  The first of which is Red Clay’s elderly population does not like this plan at all.

Many of the feelings in the public comments feel they have been taxed enough given that Red Clay just passed a referendum last year. Some even suggested that the full release of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee recommendations taking place after the referendum was done deliberately.  These public comments are through December 14th, 2015.

One of the most interesting public comments comes from State Rep. Charles Potter. In an earlier message, he states he fully supports the plan, but towards the end he backtracks and opposes it.  His reason?  He claims that Colonial School District, whose board voted to back out of sending their Wilmington students to Red Clay in October, has less than 200 students but receives $3.8 million dollars.  He doesn’t specify where those funds come from or the nature of them.  If anyone has any solid information on this, I would love to see it.  I have heard some reference the fact that Colonial owns some of the property on the Port of Wilmington, but this has been a back and forth between both WEIC and Colonial for a few months now and I have yet to see something in writing indicating this one way or another.

Many of the Wilmington resident public comments are in support of the plan, albeit with some reservations. The Wilmington Education Strategy Think Tank even suggests Red Clay and the Brandywine School District merge.

There are numerous public comments in hear that are well worth reading, especially if this plan does get approved.  There are valid points on both sides of the coin.  Public comment will be accepted until January 14th.

Will The Red Clay Board Renew Delaware College Prep’s Charter?

The Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education, as well as voting on an opt-out policy for the district, will also look at the renewal of two charters authorized by Red Clay: Delaware Military Academy and Delaware College Prep.  Delaware College Prep has been plagued with issues for years.  Will the Red Clay board recommend charter revocation at their December board meeting?  The Delaware Department of Education gave them a rating of “Falls Far Below Standard” on their financial framework for the 2014-2015 academic year and the Delaware Auditor of Accounts found severe financial mismanagement at the school.  The Red Clay Charter School Accountability Committee report does not bode well for them…

Updated, 6:45pm: Kilroy is on it! Red Clay Charter School Accountability Committee recommending now renewing Delaware College Prep’s charter!

 

Red Clay Board To Vote On Opt-Out Policy Tonight

The Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education will vote on an opt-out policy this evening at their monthly board meeting.  This is an action item.  Like the Christina Board of Education did a couple months ago, this would make parent opt-out a policy in Red Clay.  While both boards as well as Capital passed resolutions over the past year, these policies would ensure superintendents, administrators and schools would have to follow this.  I fully support this measure and sincerely hope the board passes this unanimously.

In light of the impending hammer of doom about to be imposed on all Delaware public schools by the unelected State Board of Education and Secretary Godowsky, I encourage ALL boards to adopt this policy.  As well, I encourage all parents to opt their child out today.  If you live in Red Clay, go to the board meeting tonight at Conrad, beginning at 7:00pm and hand the letter to Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty.

Major Exclusive: Delaware DOE Email To Red Clay Allocating $750,000 For Each Priority School From November

The Delaware Department of Education, in an email dated 11/13/14, assured the Red Clay Consolidated School District of a certain amount allocated for each of the three priority schools in their district.  As well, they placed more demands regarding the school leaders.  Nowhere in this document does it state anything about Title I funding as addressed in the documents I posted yesterday between the DOE and Red Clay from May of this year.

What the Delaware DOE did by not informing the Red Clay Consolidated School District that 10% of Title I funding had to be divvied up between the three priority schools and taken out of other schools in the district is an absolutely disgusting and reprehensible new low.

There is also more “direction” placed on Red Clay in regards to the University of Virginia in this email…