Budget Projections Place Christina In Jeopardy In A Year If Current Trends Continue

The true financial impact at Christina School District was revealed for all last night, and the most troublesome of these numbers was the bleeding out of students from Christina to charters.  It is a requirement that any district in Delaware be able to meet the first month’s payroll prior to the school year starting, and CFO Bob Silba announced this may not be a possibility in a year’s time.  Board member John Young commented that the district needs to face the reality they could be down from three high schools to two in a couple years.  Projected numbers show over 900 students leaving Christina but their Title I funding basically remains the same and their IDEA funding which comes from students with disabilities will actually go up.

This shows the students leaving the district are not necessarily those in most need: low-income and special needs.  As Christina hemorrhages students, they are left with financial numbers that are in dire straits.  School resource officers are being spread out among schools instead of one located at each, extra pay for extra responsibilities (EPER) has been drastically reduced, and classroom materials has been reduced by over 50%.

Discussion surrounding an interim superintenedent was chaotic at best, with Board President Harrie Ellen Minnehan starting the meeting with a very long monologue about how the board was unified, but the meeting showed they are anything but.  Minnehan referred to herself as “I” several times, much to the chagrin of other board members who felt out of the loop.  As the meeting stretched into the wee hours of the morning today, several board members actually left the board table for long stretches.  Minnehan, unsure of what the board had just voted for, actually said at one point “I guess we just passed a motion.”

Apparently, even public comment was in disarray with Minnehan cutting off a speaker and having the microphone turned off after the 3:00 minute mark for another.  Challenges of board policy went back and forth between Minnehan, Young and George Evans.  This board needs to unify once and for all before it is too late.  This district will be gone in two years time unless they are able to retain students and increase enrollment.

There was much discussion about the district’s  agreement with the Office of Civil Rights over discipline of minorities, which is now two years running.  From the agreement, the district has to have a vendor to oversee it, but the board was very concerned about the costs associated with this and the revelation that the main staff member who was overseeing much of this was placed in a different school.

Current Superintendent Dr. Freeman Williams, who announced he was going on personal leave last week, will be out at least another 11 weeks.  Prior to the meeting, rumors circulated that former Red Clay Consolidated School District Bob Andrzejewski would be appointed interim Superintendent, but members of the board felt they should not rush into a rash decision.  Discussion around qualifications of principals within the district and timing of the temporary hire took center stage.  The board will meet in a special meeting on August 20th to go over the qualifications and will plan from there.

A proposed board policy on parent opt-out passed it’s first read with six “yeas” and one abstention (George Evans, who was the sole no vote on the board’s opt-out resolution earlier in the year).