Which districts and charters saw big jumps with student enrollment? Which went down? What is the state of special education in Delaware? What key demographic is rising at a fast rate which contributes significantly to the budget woes in our state? Which charter school, based on their current enrollment, should no longer be considered financially viable and should be shut down? What is the fastest-growing sub-groups in Delaware? And which cherry-picking charters continue to not serve certain populations? Continue reading
The Delaware Department of Education came out with the 2016 September 30th Enrollment Report. This document shows the head count for each school district and charter school in Delaware public schools. As I predicted, special education students rose again this year. To qualify for special education, a student must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). With the exception of vocational schools, both the traditional school districts and charter schools went up in enrollment statewide. The growth for traditional school districts was anemic at best, with only a .32% increase from last year. Overall state enrollment went up by .9%. Once again, charter schools saw the greatest growth with a rise of 7.8% over last year. No new charter schools opened this year, however many submitted modifications last year to increase enrollments and grades in one case. Other charter schools began new grades this year based on their approved charters. Some districts saw very steady growth but others saw continuing drops. Continue reading
Tom Wagner, the elected Delaware State Auditor, issued a new September 30th inspect report from his office today. The original report, issued on May 4th of this year, was conducted by Kathleen Davies who was put on leave in Mid-May. Oddly enough, this report does not even appear on the state website but this was emailed to many state employees and legislators this morning.
I am presenting both the new report and the original so readers can compare the two.
To view the original point, go below:
In comparing the two documents, there are significant changes. Missing in the new report is a letter from Thomas Wagner to Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky. In the new report there is a new Appendix where the auditor’s office gave each charter school or district that received a finding to respond to the initial report issued on May 4th. There are key edits of certain sections. Especially when it revolves around the Delaware Department of Education. The changes appear to fluff up the DOE in certain instances. Almost as if the DOE had editing power over an audit approved by the State Auditor.
I resent this whole new report and the attempt to demean Kathleen Davies. No logical explanations have been provided by anyone on her situation. This smear campaign by the State Auditor’s office and the Office of Management and Budget needs something more than some bogus explanation provided by Ann Visalli. Wagner needs to step up for his employee who did her job faithfully for many years. Instead, just this new report alone looks like he is majorly kissing up to the Delaware DOE, led by Secretary Godowsky, who serves at the pleasure of Governor Markell.
The Delaware DOE released the September 30th student counts. This helps to determine funding units for each school. Special Education is determined as one of three categories: Basic for 4-12, Intensive or Complex. There is no funding for Basic Special Education for students in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade, even though State Rep. Kim Williams attempted to get a bill passed during the first half of the 148th General Assembly. I sincerely hope her House Bill 30 gets passed in 2016, because these kids need this!
For the state, the average percentage of the 19,870 special education students out of the total enrollment of 136,027 is 14.6%. Traditional School Districts have 18,580 while Charters have 1,290. To put this in perspective, 18% of students in Traditional School Districts are Special Education compared to Charters at 10.1%. Had Kim Williams House Bill 30 passed, 2,467 students in basic special education in grades K-3 would have received the extra state funding they rightfully deserve. Instead, schools get nothing for these students. This is 12.4% of the special education population in Delaware that is being underserved by a funding issue.
Charter School enrollment grew by 12.7% with an increase of 1,591 students. Last year, 13,521 Delaware students attended charters, this year it is 14,112. Five new Delaware charters began this year, but two were shut down last year. Some of the schools, with Delaware Met loud and center, are having special education issues.
Without further ado, let’s get to the numbers! For each school district or charter, the first number is the special education percentage, followed by last year, then this year’s student count, followed by last year.
Traditional School Districts
Appoquinimink: 11.9%, last year 11.1%, Student Count: 10, 378, last year 9,870
Brandywine: 14.4%, last year 13.3%, Student Count: 10,580, last year 10,740
Caesar Rodney: 15.6%, last year 14.7%, Student Count: 7,221, last year 7,249
Cape Henlopen: 17.3%, last year 16.3%, Student Count: 5,170, last year 5,075
Capital: 18.9%, last year 17.4%, Student Count: 6,486, last year 6,665
Christina: 18.8%, last year 17.9%, Student Count: 15,553, last year 16,255
Colonial: 16.4%, last year 14.8%, Student Count: 9,763, last year 9,825
Delmar: 9.8%, last year 9.1%, Student Count: 1,347, last year 1,367
Indian River: 16.5%, last year 16.0%, Student Count: 10,171, last year 9,842
Lake Forest: 15.9%, last year 14.9%, Student Count: 3,794, last year 3,812
Laurel: 15.5%, last year 15.0%, Student Count: 2,221, last year 2,177
Milford: 14.1%, last year 13.6%, Student Count: 4,119, last year 4,197
New Castle County Vo-Tech: 12.0%, last year 12.4%, Student Count: 4,698, last year 4,629
Poly-Tech: 8.4%, last year 9.1%, Student Count: 1,194, last year 1,192
Red Clay Consolidated: 13.5%, last year 11.9%, Student Count: 16,094, last year 16,302
Seaford: 17.2%, last year 17.1%, Student Count: 3,473, last year 3,509
Smyrna: 15.3%, last year 14.4%, Student Count: 5,233, last year 5,279
Sussex Tech: 6.9%, last year 6.9%, Student Count: 1,444, last year 1,545
Woodbridge: 12.5%, last year 12.5%, Student Count: 2,466, last year 2,384
While a few districts stayed the same, it is obvious the bigger districts are actually rising with special education students at great rates. Last year, the special education population was 17.2% for traditional school districts, but it is up to 18% this year, a 4.4% increase. I’m not digging the vo-tech numbers and their downward trend. The vo-tech percentages as a whole are actually lower than the charter average. 7,336 Delaware students are attending vo-techs, but their special education average is 10.4%, much lower than the traditional school districts.
Last year, traditional school districts had 104,388 students and this year they went slightly down to 103,335 for a loss of 1,053 students. For the four Wilmington school districts, they all lost 1,132 students this year, with the majority of those belonging to Christina which lost 702 students. The charters gained 1,591 students. But did their special education numbers rise as well?
* means they just opened this year
Academia Antonia Alonso: 2.2%, last Year .9%, Student Count: 320, last year 221
Academy of Dover: 9.5%, last year 11.7%, Student Count: 284, last year 290
Campus Community: 6.7%, last Year 8.3%, Student Count: 417, last year 410
Charter School of Wilmington: .5%, last year .2%, Student Count: 972, last year 972
Del. Academy of Public Safety & Security: 19.5%, last year 16.5%, Student Count: 303, last year 363
Delaware College Prep: 1.6%, last year 2.5%, Student Count: 186, last year 203
*Delaware Design Lab High School: 20.6%, Student Count: 233
*Delaware Met: 27.9%, Student Count: 215
Delaware Military Academy: 3.9%, last year 3.0%, Student Count: 564, last year 569
Early College High School: 10.5%, last year 2.3%, Student Count: 209, last year 129
EastSide Charter: 12.9%, last year 14.8%, Student Count: 443, last year 418
Family Foundations Academy: 8.6%, last year 5.3%, Student Count: 792, last year 811
*First State Military Academy: 19.3%, Student Count: 202
First State Montessori Academy: 7.4%, last year 5.4%, Student Count: 325, last year 280
*Freire Charter School: 6.4%, Student Count: 234
Gateway Lab School: 60.8%, last year 59.9%, Student Count: 212, last year 212
*Great Oaks: 16.0%, Student Count: 212
Kuumba Academy: 10.5%, last year 6.3%, Student Count: 644, last year 464
Las Americas Aspiras: 8.5%, last year 5.7%, Student Count: 639, last year 541
MOT Charter School: 6.8%, last year 6.1%, Student Count: 1,013, last year 869
Newark Charter School: 6.4%, last year 5.6%, Student Count: 2,140, last year 1,948
Odyssey Charter School: 4.9%, last year 4.4%, Student Count: 1,160, last year 933
Positive Outcomes: 62.7%, last year 65.9%, Student Count: 126, last year 126
Prestige Academy: 27.2%, last year 22.0%, Student Count: 224, last year 246
Providence Creek Academy: 5.1%, last year 5.1%, Student Count: 690, last year 688
Sussex Academy: 4.9%, last year 3.6%, Student Count: 594, last year 498
Thomas Edison: 7.0%, last year 7.1%, Student Count: 758, last year 745
Last year, the charters had special education populations in total of 8.6%. This year they rose to 10.1%. This is a rise of 14.85% in students with disabilities receiving IEPs at Delaware charter schools, but don’t forget, they also had an increased student count of 1,591 students this year. They are up a bit from last year’s percentage of 12.7%, which is good. But it seems like the bulk of new IEPs are going to some of the newer charter schools, like Delaware Met, Delaware Design Lab, Great Oaks and First State Military. They are all well above the state average. But the much vaunted “zero tolerance” charter stumbles at the gate with a very low 6.4%. Charter School of Wilmington more than doubled their special education numbers. But really, going from .2% to .5% is a joke. Of concern are the two Dover charters who look like they are experiencing a downward trend in special education numbers. That isn’t good, which accounts for Capital’s very large rise in percentage. Down in Sussex Academy, it looks like the bulk of parents of special needs children chooses to send them to traditional school districts over Sussex Academy and Sussex Tech. My big question though, if Providence Creek stayed the same, and Smyrna went up, where are the First State Military special education kids coming from? This is a high school, so perhaps they are getting a lot of the Campus Community students that graduated from 8th grade there? Or maybe more from the Middletown-Odessa area? Who knows!
For student populations, the charters are definitely seeing upward movement, but one thing to remember is many of them are adding newer grades. When a charter is approved, they can’t just open up every grade at once. So it is a slow build. For already established charters, you see them leveling out around the same numbers from year to year. If I were Delaware College Prep and Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security, I would be very worried about those falling numbers. Since the districts aren’t adding many numbers in your area, I would assume the bulk of your losses are going to other charters. So they don’t just take from the traditionals, they also feed off each other. It looks like the Middletown-Odessa area is having a huge population boom. Between Appoquinimink and MOT Charter School’s rise, that is a total of nearly 750 new students between the two. I would have expected Appoquinimink to decrease with the new MOT high school, but that isn’t the case at all.
It is obvious special education is on the rise in Delaware. But are all schools implementing IEPs with fidelity? I would find it very difficult to believe they are. In this era of accountability and standardized test scores, it has to be very hard for the administration and teachers of any school to keep up with it all. The DOE has so many demands going out to our schools, traditional and charter alike. And in the next year or so, all of these IEPs will transition to “standards-based” IEPs if they haven’t already. These are controversial, but many teachers swear they work better. The jury is still out on that one.
In the meantime, email your state legislators today and let them know they need to support House Bill 30 no matter what the budget says. The bill has been stuck in the Appropriations Committee for 9 months now. 2,467 Delaware students are not getting the supports they need. The funds this would generate would give these students more teachers and paraprofessionals. This is a crime this wasn’t included in this “needs-based” funding. There is a crucial need, and Delaware isn’t meeting it.
To find out how each school did in the traditional school districts with special education percentages and student counts by grade, they are all in the below report. Just hit the arrow on the bottom to get to the next page, or hit the full-screen button on the bottom right.