Lake Forest School District is in the northern part of Sussex County. Student enrollment hovers around the 3,800 mark each year. New Superintendent Brenda Wynder faces many of the same challenges other districts face in Sussex based on property assessments being among the lowest in Delaware. As a result, the district only has 12 administrators making over $100,000. Continue reading “Lake Forest School District Salaries Over $100,000”
Indian River School District, located in central Sussex County, has the least amount of administrators per student out of all the school districts in Delaware. The district has 1,000 more students than they did four years ago. With a growing population and over 10,400 students in the district, Indian River had to cut back on administrators back in the Fall of 2016 to avoid the state having to bail them out during a financial crisis. Their former leader, Susan Bunting, is now the Delaware Secretary of Education. Mark Steele leads the district now and has to deal with doing more with less. Compared to similar districts with student enrollment at that size, such as Appoquinimink and Brandywine, Indian River runs a tight ship these days. Indian River has a large number of English Language learners in the district and with a current lack of extra funding for those students, it can be tough. The district faced an investigative audit by the State Auditor’s Office at the same time they tried to pass a referendum. While the referendum did eventually pass, it caused the district to get their finances together fast!
The smallest school district in Delaware! Delmar is a very interesting district because it shares schools with another state, Maryland. As a result, students spend their school years in two states. I’ve never understood how or why the thing went down like it did. As a result, they run a tight ship and don’t go hog-wild on administrators. There are only three administrators making over $100,000 which is the same as four years ago. Their enrollment ebbs and flows around the 1,300 mark year after year. The Delaware side of the district has the middle school and high school while Maryland has the elementary schools. Continue reading “Delmar School District Salaries Over $100,000”
I underestimated Colonial School District for years. I always thought they were just kind of there and they were off my radar. I didn’t write much about them. Under the leadership of Superintendent Dusty Blakey, Colonial is changing before our very eyes. How and why is something I plan on writing much more about in the future. Colonial struggles to hit that 10,000 student mark. They face the same thing other districts up there do as they are surrounded by charter schools. Which baffles me why Blakey would push for the district to be an authorizer of Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security. But I digress. Colonial’s board is in for a massive shake-up in the upcoming school board election so it will be interesting to see where this district goes in the future. Blakey is everywhere these days, attending meetings in Dover all the time and pushing for public/private partnerships. But a growing discontent among teachers in his district may force Blakey to take a second look at his big push for more Relay Graduate School teachers. The district does have 6 less administrators making $100,000 and over than they did 4 years ago. Continue reading “Colonial School District Salaries Over $100,000”
The Padua Academy Head of School, Cindy Mann, was fired today. A letter went out to parents from Father Nicholas Waseline. Students and parents are furious. A protest from students is taking place on Monday. But the reason for her termination is more shocking than the actual firing.
According to sources, Waseline approached Mann about transferring money from Padua to St. Anthony’s. While Padua has become a well respected school, St. Anthony’s is struggling. Mann said no to the transfer and was fired for insubordination. Padua is a part of St. Anthony’s parish, but it was created to run separately in administration. Meaning Waseline, who oversees both, went against the organizational foundation Padua was built on. The grade school, St. Anthony School, is grades K-8 while Padua Academy serves 9-12.
It is never a good idea, even in a private school setting, to get rid of those who make something great. And when that termination reason is based on something unethical? Definitely not a good idea! But when it comes from a Catholic Priest. Even worse!
In the next round of Delaware charter schools that have salaries over $100,000, we have an eclectic mix that include two Kent County schools and three New Castle county. Two are military schools, one has a pseudo-religious theme, one is a first responder school, and the other has a unique partnership with Delaware State University. In my eyes, if you are going to have a charter school, make it different from the schools around you. And these charters certainly fit the bill! Two of them, as you can see by their demographics, are on my radar of what I view as skewed special populations in some areas. One of them, however, could disappear by the end of June if they don’t get their student enrollment up very soon! Delaware Military Academy is authorized by Red Clay Consolidated School District. ECHS and the two FSMAs opened up after the News Journal came out with their salary article in 2014. Continue reading “Charter School Salaries Over $100,000: DAPSS, DE Military Academy, Early College High, First State Military, & First State Montessori”
The Christina School District. They have less administrators than they did four years ago, but they also have over 2,000 less students than they did then. Much of that can be attributed to the very big charter school growth during that time. Not only were new charters springing up all over the place, but existing charters expanded their enrollment by adding new grades. Former Superintendent Freeman Williams resigned in the Fall of 2015 and the district did not get a new Superintendent until the beginning of 2017. The Delaware DOE and various Delaware Governor’s public education target, Christina has actually come a long way. Last month they signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Governor Carney and the Delaware Department of Education. They are taking a strong look at each of their schools, not only in Wilmington but also the Newark/Bear/Glasgow area as well.
I’ve predicted their demise but that was more of a warning shot to them. Out of all the districts and charters in Delaware, I’ve probably written about them the most. Which I feel gives me the ability to defend them when the need arises. The district certainly has their challenges but all districts do. Christina has some of the highest numbers of low-income and special education students in the entire state. While they don’t have the highest percentage of low-income students, they have the highest number of students. And many of those, especially in Wilmington, are students of poverty. They aren’t the district I’m worried about. More on that another day.
A very important note about their numbers. The district itself has 75 administrators making over $100,000. While that may seem like a lot, they also have over 15,000 students in their district despite the charter explosion in the past decade. But they also hold special programs in their district, such as the Delaware Autism Program and the Delaware School For The Deaf. With those programs, the district has 93 administrators making over $100,000. This is an important distinction which will play out later on. Four years ago they had 108 administrators hitting the over $100,000 mark.
The Capital School District is in the middle of Kent County where the capital of The First State lies. Even their middle school, Central, boasts itself as being in “The Heart of Dover”. Their enrollment has pretty much been flat over the past four years. The district has two middle schools, one for 5-6 and one for 7-8. Potential plans may change that in the future, but this also causes a bit more administrative positions than most school districts. Superintendent Dan Shelton is going on his 3rd year in the district. He replaced Dr. Michael Thomas who retired at the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Capital is one of the districts in the state with the largest percentage of low-income students. As notated in the article on Caesar Rodney, the competition between the two districts is well-known in Kent County! Continue reading “Capital School District Salaries Over $100,000”
Travelling to Sussex County, the Cape Henlopen School District is a very unique district. The taxpayers in Cape Henlopen pass referenda at a much higher rate than most districts in Delaware. This is considered to be a wealthier district in the state. Their student count has gone up by about 600 students over the past four years. Cape doesn’t have as many schools and their student count is significantly lower than, say, Caesar Rodney. Yet they have more administrators with less students and less buildings. This is, in large part, due to the fact that the taxpayers are more willing to pass referendum which establishes local funding for school districts. With that being said, they have two less administrators making over $100,000 than they did four years ago. Continue reading “Cape Henlopen School District Salaries Over $100,000”
I did not forget charter schools in my mammoth Freedom of Information Act request! With the above charter schools, the amount of employees making over $100,000 varies, usually based on student count. Two of them have NO employees making over $100,000. For Charter School of Newcastle and East Side Charter School, they are grouped together because they fall under the umbrella called Vision Academies. For five of these charter schools, comparing their demographics to Charter School of Wilmington is crazy. It has never been a secret that I have extreme issues with CSW’s demographics. Two of these schools are in Dover, one is in New Castle, and the other three are in Wilmington. Continue reading “Charter School Salaries Over $100,000: Academia Antonia Alonso, Academy of Dover, Campus Community, Charter School Of Newcastle, Charter School Of Wilmington, & East Side Charter School”
Caesar Rodney School District is in Kent County. The district includes Camden-Wyoming and the southern part of Dover. Slightly larger in student size than their North neighbor, Capital School District, CR is an interesting district. It also includes a school at Dover Air Force Base. Their enrollment has gone up a couple hundred in the past four years. There aren’t as many competing charter schools in the area that affect districts up in Wilmington and Newark. The vo-tech in the area, Polytech, has a fixed student enrollment that has been in place for decades. Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald has made modest raises in the last four years. In four years, the number of employees making over $100,000 has increased from 26 to 29. CR and Capital have always been rivals of sorts, not just in football, but in comparing the quality of their districts. In the past year, Caesar Rodney has been in the news much more than I’ve seen them in the past four years due to controversial matters in the district involving race, special education, and most recently, their stance on the recent student walk-outs. Continue reading “Caesar Rodney School District Salaries Over $100,000”
Next up is Brandywine School District. Located at the top of Delaware if you are looking at a map, Brandywine has 10,400 students. This number has hovered around that amount for the past few years. Given that, the number of administrators in Brandywine making over $100,000 has gone down dramatically over the past four years. In 2014, they had 71 making that coveted number. Now, they have 55. In 2016, the district went through a tumultuous referendum process. This could account for the reduction in administrators in the district. Four years ago, Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick was the highest paid administrator in Delaware’s public schools. As a reminder, these salaries are only the base salary and doesn’t include extra perks. Back in 2014, including those perks, The News Journal estimated Holodick’s salary at $214,176. If those perks are still the same, Holodick got a huge raise from the district! Continue reading “Brandywine School District Salaries Over $100,000”
The first in the FOIA series about districts and charters with employees making over $100,000 in annual salary goes to Appoquinimink School District. Located in the Middletown/Odessa/Townsend part of Delaware, Appo is one of the fastest growing districts in the state. Four years ago, they had 31 employees making over $100,000. They now have 54. Much of this is due to the huge increase in student enrollment and new schools in the district. Things change with funding once you get past that 10,000 mark with student count because four years ago they had 9,750 students in the district. Continue reading “Appoquinimink School District Salaries Over $100,000”
On February 28th, I sent a Freedom of Information Act request to every single Delaware school district and charter school. The ask? Every single employee with an annual salary over $100,000. I based it on that specific number because I know pretty much every single assistant principal and up (with a few exceptions) makes over $100,000. One of the key questions in Delaware education is “Do we have too many administrators?”. This comes up every single time the state budget conversation heats up or a district goes out for a referendum. Continue reading “Prologue: The Big FOIA About Salaries”
Either I fell asleep at the wheel or this happened very fast, but the Delaware State Board of Education has a new board member. This new person replaces State Board member Patrick Heffernan. Continue reading “State Board of Education Has A New Member”
The State Board of Education, with a 5-0 vote and 1 abstention, declared Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security will not close. The State Board’s vote gives DAPSS another year to prove themselves. But there are new conditions.
The Charter School Accountability Committee recommended the school stay open for another year as long as they have a student enrollment of 200 students by May 1st, along with other conditions including utilizing their partnership with the Colonial School District. Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting agreed with CSAC’s recommendation with many revisions. She agreed with everything the CSAC recommended but wanted to know by June 29th if Colonial or Las Americas ASPIRAS would help to fill vacant staff positions and a transition plan should the school choose to make Colonial it’s . This must be in agreement with Colonial. If the board doesn’t meet all their conditions by June 29th, their charter will automatically be revoked. Bunting wants more transparency with the whole process. She also wants all teachers to be certified and the charter handed back to the Delaware DOE by mid-2019 so they can begin the transition to Colonial. Bunting had a total of eight conditions.
State Board President Dennis Loftus requested monthly reports to the State Board. His biggest concern was, if the school should close, that students would have enough time to transition to different schools by the new school year. State Board member Wali Rushdan said he was satisfied with Bunting’s recommendation and this allayed many of his concerns about the staff being certified and highly qualified. He expressed the need for a strategic plan, one of Bunting’s recommendations. Executive Director Donna Johnson asked about the recommendation concerning Colonial and ASPIRA helping out with staffing vacancies. Charter School Office Director Denise Stouffer clarified they would receive support by those highly qualified instructors from Colonial or ASPIRA. Loftus wanted to make it clear that DAPSS would either transition to Colonial for charter authorization or they would cease to exist. What happens if Colonial changes their mind?
I predicted this would be the outcome but I was happy to see Secretary Bunting add additional recommendations.
Recently, I sent a Freedom of Information Act request to all Delaware school districts and charter schools. A week and a half later I put a post up regarding schools or districts that had not responded in any way to the FOIA request. I added MOT Charter School as one of those schools and this was an error on my end. I did receive MOT’s response last week but I filed it in the wrong folder on my laptop. I appreciate Ned Southworth from MOT getting in touch with me about this and I offer my humblest apology to MOT.
I made a mistake but I feel I am duty-bound to point out that mistake and offer public apology for it!
The first battle for HS1 for House Bill #287 was won today as the Delaware House Education Committee released it from committee. This puts the special education legislation on the Ready list for a full House vote.
All were in favor of the release except for State Rep. Deb Heffernan who voted no and State Rep. Stephanie Bolden who abstained. There was a great deal of discussion about the bill and who exactly it represents among Delaware special education students. Mary Ann Mieczkowski, the Director of the Exceptional Children Resources Group at the Delaware Department of Education, attempted to answer these questions to committee members. The diploma with modified standards would apply to a very small population of Delaware students, approximately 1% of them. These are students with severe disabilities that affect their ability to perform relative to their peers.
Currently, these students receive a “certificate of performance”. Which means they are not allowed to check up the Diploma box on job applications. They are unable to have the opportunity to apply for many jobs. For parents of these children, as so aptly put by parent John Young, it is a resignation for their children that is very difficult to accept.
Much of the conversation was about the gap group of special education students between those this would apply to and those who receive a high school diploma. To qualify for this bill, you have to be approved by your IEP team to take the alternative state assessment. But that is only a little over 1% of Delaware students. Our special education numbers hover around 15-16%. Some of those students who do qualify for the Smarter Balanced Assessment have a difficult time passing rigorous high school courses and are unable to graduate. Many legislators wanted to see numbers from the Delaware DOE on this.
One public comment, given by Robert Overmiller, said this bill would be lying to these students. The Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, of which Overmiller is a member, had public comment from member Kathie Cherry. She felt it was important to note that Overmiller’s views on the bill did not reflect the overwhelming majority of the council who are in support of the bill. While I do agree with Overmiller on many education issues, I felt his opposition to this bill was unfair but he is certainly entitled to his opinion.
Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting gave the DOE’s approval of the bill, as did Delaware Autism, the Delaware Association of School Administrators, the Delaware School Boards Association, and parents.
This is an important victory for this bill. It still has a long way to go but I like the track it is going in.
Grants. Love ’em or hate ’em, but they exist. This is how I see competitive grants- they are temporary fixes that give short-term funding for long-term issues. What invariably happens is the grant runs out and local school districts or charters wind up flipping the bill or, rarely, the funding becomes a part of state code for all schools. For State Rep. Danny Short and his House Bill #335, he wants to make school safety funding a competitive process.
This Act establishes the Delaware School Safety and Security Fund to allow eligible public schools to compete for grant awards to partially or fully fund projects intended to improve school safety or security. The Department of Education shall administer the competitive grant program. This Act further requires all funding to be awarded by a five-member committee consisting of representatives from the Department of Education, Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the Office of Management and Budget, the Governor’s office, and the Delaware Association of School Administrators. Said committee shall meet no later than thirty days after the effective date of this Act to develop rules and regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this Section. Awards granted under this Section shall be limited to a maximum of $50,000 per school, with priority given to applications addressing a current unresolved safety or security issue, or an issue which would significantly improve the safety and security of the public school relative to the size of the investment.
Rep. Short, in grant applications there will always be winners and losers. I hardly think school safety should depend on who can write the best grant applications. I won’t pretend to know the solutions to school safety but I can pretty much guarantee you this is NOT the answer. School safety and the fear of another Parkland, Columbine, or Sandy Hook are very big concerns. But we need to approach these issues with common sense and not just go with the first thing that comes to mind. We talk about equity in schools all the time here in Delaware. Sometimes grants do help schools with the highest needs, but when it comes to school safety, a dangerous situation can happen at any school at any time.
For the record, I do not think arming teachers is a solution either. They have enough on their plate already. I think the biggest thing we can do is be proactive with students that seem to be missing out on resources they desperately need. With the shooter in Florida, there were obvious red flags and warning signs all over the place. Things could have been done on multiple levels to help this kid. The actions of the School Resource Officers assigned to the school were negligent at best.
We need to approach these issues with caution, not haste. Nobody wants another situation like this to ever happen again. That is what we can all agree on. But the flurry of legislation going back and forth over this issue is happening too fast. Yes, action needs to happen. But let’s do it with common sense. Just my two cents!
The diploma bill for students with severe disabilities is on the agenda for the Delaware House Education Committee today. The bill caused a ruckus of sorts with State Rep. Earl Jaques, State Board of Education member Pat Heffernan, Robert Overmiller, and the Delaware Chamber of Commerce.
House Bill #287 is now HS1 for House Bill #287. The new changes are as follows:
This Substitute Bill makes the following changes to House Bill No. 287: 1. It changes the name of the new diploma to a “Diploma of Alternate Achievement Standards” instead of a “Diploma of Modified Performance Standards.” 2. It adds a requirement that a student must be eligible to take a statewide alternate assessment to receive the new diploma. 3. The Act takes effect in the academic year after enactment.
But the spirit of the original bill is the same.
…provides the opportunity for schools to award students who meet the requirements of their Individualized Education Plans (“IEP”) a high school diploma which recognizes the accomplishment of having attained a level of performance that is modified from the State graduation requirements but aligned with their established goals and performance outcomes.
As much as those who oppose the bill talk about why they hate the bill, I still fail to understand their rationale. This isn’t a business bill, this is a student bill. I think it is very arrogant for big business to dare to intrude on legislation like this. In my opinion, they have done enough “intruding” in public education to the detriment of students, teachers, and schools. Most of our schools, teachers, and parents want this bill to pass. To me, they are your key stakeholders, not the business community.
For Jaques, Heffernan, and Overmiller: two of you have family members with disabilities and one of you serves on the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC). I am unable to fathom your opposition to this bill. You are certainly entitled to your opinion. But, to me, it is not a coincidence that you all opposed opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Which is a grueling task and a flawed test for any student, but especially for students with disabilities. The majority of the GACEC supports the bill.
I anticipate a large crowd for this House Education Committee meeting. It is being held in the Joint Finance Committee room, not the House Chamber. It begins at 3:00pm. If you support this bill, please come out and give public comment.
Other bills on the docket are House Bill #292, relating to services for students with Autism, and House Bill #282, which would allow extra funding for field trips in schools with high concentrations of students with poverty