Carney & Bunting Tackle Education Funding But The Red Herring Fooling Everyone Lurks Around The Corner

Delaware Governor John Carney and Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting will talk to educators, parents, and citizens tonight about education funding and the state budget tonight at 7:45pm.  To be included on the call, you had to sign up yesterday by 2pm.  I signed up on Tuesday.  I will be reporting live from the Town Hall.  What concerns me the most is not what Carney is saying.  It is what he isn’t talking about… Continue reading “Carney & Bunting Tackle Education Funding But The Red Herring Fooling Everyone Lurks Around The Corner”

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Christina Continues To Recruit For District Administrators As Referendum Opponents Seethe

That didn’t take long.  No sooner does a Newark High School principal gets a lofty district position, the district announces two more administrative positions.  Despite librarians not being fully restored even though it was a sort of/kind of referendum promise.  Was this what the referendum was about?  Filling more district slots?  Have the class sizes been reduced in their planning for next year?  Have all support staff been rehired or hired?  Have all school budgets been restored?  Has funding for performing and fine arts been restored?  Does “enhancement” mean the same thing as “more district staff”?  If the answer to all these questions are a resounding yes, then by all means, hire away.  But if you can’t honor the promises made to taxpayers, then don’t complain when they vote no the next time around.

ChristinaAssessmentCoordinator

ChristinaAsstSuper

ChristinaAsstSuper2

That last one looks tailor made for anyone working in the Delaware Department of Education Accountability unit.  What does the Acting Superintendent do after all those job roles are shifted to someone else?

Charter Update To State Board of Education Puts 8 Charters At “Tier 3” Status

The Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education will give a presentation to the State Board of Education on Thursday, November 19th.  Among other things, they have rated charters on a scale of 1-3.  These tiers will have 1 being good, 2 some issues, and 3…not so good.  The charters at the Tier 3 status are Academia Antonio Alonso, Academy of Dover, Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security, Delaware College Prep, Family Foundations Academy, Gateway Lab School, Odyssey Charter School, and Prestige Academy.  This list does not include the charters that opened this year because there is nothing to compare their organizational and financial frameworks to.  But even though Delaware Met and Delaware Design Lab are not on this list this does not mean they aren’t in trouble.

Delaware Design Lab High School is on probation following their formal review last year for low enrollment before they opened.  The school did get their enrollment up, but according to this report the Charter School Office is reviewing their budget and enrollment and are on some type of corrective action.  Delaware Met is on formal review for pretty much everything not even three months after they opened.  One interesting observation was their final Charter School Accountability Committee meeting has been changed from November 30th to December 1st.  I would imagine this is because the DOE has to face the Joint Finance Committee over at Legislative Hall on the 30th.    It looks like the Charter School Office will be pushing more involvement with parents at the charters with Parent Teacher Organizations.  Parent involvement is never a bad thing!

DOE Releases Delaware Charter School Organizational and Financial Framework Reports

  • The Delaware Department of Education released the Financial and Organizations parts of the Delaware Charter School Performance Framework.  Because the State Board of Education has not voted on the new accountability structure called the Delaware School Success Framework, the Academic portion of the Performance Framework is not available yet.

For the most part, most of the charters did very well on these two parts.  One thing to keep in mind is the financial reports which do not give a clear indication of how charters are doing financially since it is based on their audit that deals with where the schools stands as of 6/30/15.  This does not take into account how much money they may receive in deposits the very next day.  As an example, when I read Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security it stated they were one day out in being able to pay bills.  This is where they were at on 6/30/15 but schools receive their funding after the start of the new fiscal year which occurs on July 1st of each year.

There were some things I want to point out.  Another important thing to remember is that this is only for the timeframe of July 1st, 2014 until June 30th, 2015.  So something like the State Auditor investigation into Delaware charters and their finding released in September of this year would not appear on these frameworks.  However, for a school like Academy of Dover and their financial issues, that was released in June 2015 so it does appear.  Some of the schools have already gone through a formal review, like Family Foundations Academy, and would not be able to have “double jeopardy” based on these reports unless new information was brought to light.

For those who have said the Charter School Office at the DOE doesn’t monitor things (of which I have been guilty), these reports show this is not the case in many areas. I was actually happy to see the high amount of bullying reporting violations because it does show someone is keeping track of these things. I wish these bullying incidents never happened but I have always said it needs to be monitored more closely. I have a sneaky suspicion more is going to come out on this soon and it is something the DOE may not even be aware of, but that is another matter. There were fairly consistent violations with many schools: the percentage of highly-qualified teachers, procurement card policies, and websites having all the correct information. As any reader of Kilroy’s Delaware and this blog are aware, we both keep track of those things often.

I have to give props to Jennifer Nagourney and her crew over there for the thoroughness in these reports. As I keep track of employees coming and going at the DOE, it looks like the charter school office actually lost an employee over the past year so their workload has to be even bigger. Whether that position went to fund the Race To The Top positions is another matter entirely, but I do know the people in this office work hard.  I’ll probably get crucified for this, but I would love to see the traditional school districts get monitored for some of this stuff, especially the bullying reporting.

Without further ado, here are the ratings for all the Delaware charters in Organizational and Financial aspects of their Performance Framework. I didn’t delve too much into the financial pictures for the above reasons. At the end is a link to all the charter reports and a sample of one so folks can see the new format which explains a lot of the reasoning for what is in the reports.

Academia Antonia Alonso

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Did not submit payroll internal control plan to the Division of Accounting upon request
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, CBOC minutes, and CBOC notice.
  • FY15 Audit Results:
  • 2 material weaknesses (#2015-01 and #2015-02)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas.
  • No evidence of completion of educator or administrator evaluations as required by law
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (21.4%)

Academy of Dover

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Does Not Meet Standard

  • Misuse of funds by now-former School Leader identified by Delaware Auditor of Accounts in June 23, 2015 report:
  • Poor internal controls identified by Delaware Auditor of Accounts in June 23, 2015 report
  • Did not submit payroll internal control plan to Division of Accounting upon request
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, CBOC minutes, and CBOC meeting notices
  • FY15 Audit Results: Qualified opinion
  • 2 material weaknesses (#2014-003 and #2015-001)
    1 instance of noncompliance (#2015-001)
  • Non-compliance with State Employees’, Officers’, and Officials’ Code of Conduct by now-former School Principal
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes, Board of Directors meeting agendas, and Board of Directors meeting notice
  • As noted in formal review, started year without accountability systems for school leader – put in place after school leader departed
  • Substantiated incident involving teacher violence against student
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (93.5%)

Campus Community

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (81.6%)

Charter School of Wilmington

Organizational: Not produced by DOE (Red Clay)
Financial: Meets Standard

Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

  • Promotion and graduation requirements not met, including scheduling and transcript verification
  • Attendance goal of 95% not met (90.6%)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (84.9%)

*Editor’s Note: While I am not focusing heavily on the financial portions of these, I do want to note this school has been rated Falls Far Below Standard in financial for FY12, FY14 and FY15 and was Does Not Meet in FY13.

Delaware College Prep

Organizational: Not produced by DOE (Red Clay)
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

*Editor’s Note: Similar to the last school, DCP was Does Not Meet for financial in FY11 and FY12, and was Falls Far Below in FY13, FY14, and FY15

Delaware Military Academy

Organizational: Not produced by DOE (Red Clay)
Financial: Not ready yet

Early College High School

Organizational: Not Ready Yet
Financial: Not Ready Yet

EastSide Charter School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (93.50%)
  • Children’s Internet Protection Act/E-Rate: Non-compliant Internet Safety Policy and Internet Safety Curriculum
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak”)
  • Alternative administrator evaluation framework not yet approved by the Department as required by 14 Del. C. § 1270(f)
  • Failure to record four substantiated incidents of bullying (since corrected)
  • Failure to post Delaware Department of Justice Ombudsman information to school website (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (65.9%)

Family Foundations Academy

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Misuse of funds by now-former school leaders during the reportable period
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, and CBOC minutes
  • FY15 Audit Results: Qualified opinion on financial statements
    Adverse opinion on CFDA 84.010, Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies
    3 material weaknesses (#2015-01, #2015-02 and #2015-03)
    1 significant deficiency (#2015-04)
    2 instances of noncompliance (#2015-01 & #2015-04)
  • Note: Family Foundations Academy experienced near-complete turnover within its Board of Directors and school leadership team in January 2015, with additional changes made over the reporting period that resulted in significant changes to governance policies and procedures. The Organizational Framework Report includes data from the entire reporting period. In the development of this report and rating, the Department attempted to identify which areas of non-compliance can be attributable to individuals no longer associated with the school.
  • Non-compliance with State Employees’, Officers’, and Officials’ Code of Conduct by now-former school leaders during the reportable period; In response, charter school board implemented a new organizational chart, made staffing changes, and implemented new employee management policies
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points until December 2014. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes, Board of Directors meeting agendas, and Board of Directors meeting notice
  • No evidence of completion of educator or administrator evaluations as required by law
  • Failure to post Delaware Department of Justice Ombudsman information to school website (since corrected)
    Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (85.9%)

First State Montessori Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Did not submit payroll internal control plan to the Division of Accounting upon request
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period; these included monthly financial statements and Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) minutes (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period; these included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (78.6%)

Gateway Lab School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (94.11%)
  • Use of PCard by school personnel absent prior approval from Division of Accounting following unanticipated change in personnel – no improper expenditures identified
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong”, “adequate”, “lacking”, or “weak”.
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that monthly financial statements were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that annual report was not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (86.0%)


Kuumba Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, and CBOC minutes (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that the charter school’s annual report was not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period
  • Reporting requirements – Failure to report discipline incidents (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (59.6%)

Las Americas Aspiras

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “lacking” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for bullying incident as required by 14 Del. C. §411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)

MOT Charter School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “lacking” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for substantiated bullying incidents as required by 14 Del. C. § 411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)

Newark Charter School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.

Odyssey Charter School

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, and CBOC minutes
  • CBOC did not operate as a distinct public body from Board of Directors until April 2015
  • CBOC meeting minutes from July 2014 to September 2014 mispresented as meetings of a distinct public body
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas.
  • Board of Directors meetings in December 2014 and January 2015 closed to the public
  • From July 2014 to January 2015, Board of Directors bylaws stated that an Executive Committee could meet in violation of Open Meeting Law meeting access, notice, agenda, and minutes requirements.

Positive Outcomes

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (90.00%)
  • Non-compliant with Title I, Part A: Schoolwide Plans
  • Non-compliant with Title II, Part A: Highly Qualified Teachers (HQT) and Highly Qualified Paraprofessionals (HQP)
  • Non-compliant with Perkins: Secondary Career and Technical Education (CTE)
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “lacking” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for substantiated bullying incidents as required by 14 Del. C. § 4112D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (84.1%)

Prestige Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (94.03%)
  • Education of Homeless Students – Did not provide budget upon request
  • Non-compliant PCard internal control policies (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, CBOC minutes, and CBOC meeting notice (since corrected)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to correctly report crimes as required by 14 Del. C. § 4112, and failure to code students as being placed in a Consortium Discipline Alternative Program as required by 14 DE Admin. C. 611.3.0 (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (64.5%)

Providence Creek Academy

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • FY15 Audit Results:
    4 material weaknesses (#2015-001, #2015-002, #2015-003, and #2015-004)
    1 instance of noncompliance (#2015-002)
  • Misuse of funds by now-former employee during the reportable period; upon discovery, the charter school reported concerns to State Auditor of Accounts and implemented new oversight policies
  • Non-compliance with State Employees’, Officers’, and Officials’ Code of Conduct; upon discovery, the charter school board implemented a new organizational chart, made staffing changes, and implemented new employee management policies
  • School leader evaluation not completed for 2014-15, due to October 2014 resignation of Board of Directors member trained in DPAS evaluation system and unavailability of training opportunities until Summer 2015; charter school reported that training was completed after the reporting period and the evaluation was in progress as of the date of publication of this report
  • Reporting requirements – failure to record a substantiated criminal violation by a staff member in eSchool as required by 14 Del. C. § 4112 (recorded September 2015) and failure to include a reason for substantiated bullying incidents as required by 14 Del. C. § 411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (85.5%)

Sussex Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Non-compliant with Title II, Part A: HQT/HQP; Professional Development Activities; Budget vs. Expenditures
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.

Thomas Edison

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Children’s Internet Protection Act/E-Rate: Non-compliant Internet Safety Policy and Internet Safety Curriculum (since corrected)
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas (since corrected)
  • E-Rate reporting (since corrected)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for bullying incident as required by 14 Del. C. § 411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)

Sample Report:

Link To All The Reports

148th General Assembly Legislative Session Schedule For 2016

The fun begins again on January 12th, 2016.  This is when the Delaware General Assembly reconvenes for Part 2 of their 148th General Assembly.  It will be a raucous ride this session, with huge budget issues taking the forefront of any discussion.  Followed by education, death penalty, and right to die bills that are pending bills.

The General Assembly typically meets from Tuesdays to Thursdays with rare exceptions out of those days of the week (usually Joint Finance Committee).  The various committees meet during these days as well, but there is no clear schedule for all of them.  Here are the dates:

January 12th, 13th, 14th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 26th, 27th, 28th

February-1st week of March: General Assembly in Recess all month for Joint Finance Committee and Joint Finance Committee/Bond meetings.

Here are the dates for the JFC Hearings:

February 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th & 25th

And for the JFC/Bond Committee Hearings:

February 29th, March 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th

Back in Legislative Session:

March 8th, 9th, 10th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th

In recess for a few weeks, then back for:

April 12th, 13th, 14th, 19th, 20th, 21st

Then more JFC/Bond Hearings:

April 26th, 27th, 28th

Back In Legislative Session:

May 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th, 19th

And then the JFC Mark-Up Session:

May 23rd, 24th, 25th, 31st, June 1st, 2nd

And then the final stretch back in Legislative Session:

June 7th, 8th, 9th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 28th, 29th, 30th, and if need be, the hours going into July 1st if the General Assembly does not pass the budget for Fiscal Year 2017.  The General Assembly is required by law to keep meeting until the budget is passed.

DOE Shells Out $443,750 To UChicago Impact For 5Essentials Survey

The Delaware Department of Education is paying UChicago Impact, a non-profit owned by the University of Chicago, $443,750.00 for the 5Essentials Survey.  The work will be completed in a year.  This is all part of the Delaware School Success Framework, aka, the school report card.  How much time and resources has the DOE spent on this part of our ESEA flexibility waiver?  My biggest question is why the DOE pays so much money to outside vendors.  I’m sure their response would fall somewhere along the lines of “our Department can’t be biased with these things so we need an outside voice”, but if you look at the “partners” of UChicago Impact, the bias is already there.  They are all about the corporate education reform movement.  The questions in their 5Essentials Survey are extensive and intrusive in my opinion and I don’t see any benefit coming to schools with these.  It is just more ammunition for the DOE to blast teachers and schools.

While the scope of the work is vast, how can the DOE keep contracting with vendor after vendor with no oversight whatsoever by the state?  Yes, I’m sure this is in their budget, but why are they allowed to have such an extensive budget when the students of Delaware have to sit in bloated classrooms with limited resources?  This is a waste of money.  $443,000 for a survey?  Why are we making sure these education “fix it” companies are well-fed, but we can’t even do the same for our own citizens?  Delaware DOE, you are actually making the problem worse.  It almost seems like the Delaware DOE wants to have an elite “country club” status in education.  But they don’t realize how much they are starving Delaware schools of what they truly need.  Below is the contract with UChicago Impact and the Delaware DOE.

Showdown At The Christina Corral

In what is promising to be an epic board meeting tonight, the Christina School District is facing an onslaught of issues, all at once.  These are the biggest items facing them tonight:

-The leave of absence of Superintendent Dr. Freeman Williams and the whole thorny issue over last week’s executive session going over his “competencies” and the legality of it.

-The recent guilty verdict of board member Shirley Saffer’s harassment of a bus driver a year and a half ago.

-Christina’s budget and the unfortunate letting go of over 100 employees, as well as future referendum discussion.

-Declining enrollment due to choice and charters and the impact that is having on the district.

-Tension between board members.  Will the topic of two board members tipping off the state auditor to do an investigation against the district come up?  It should!  As well, reports have surfaced that one board member (could be included as one of the above two) has been acting unilaterally with important matters such as removing a posting for a deputy Superintendent and meeting with local legislators and business leaders on the whole redistricting effort.

-Board Member Elizabeth Paige has an opt-out policy on the agenda which will get into the whole high-stakes testing discussion.

-Tension between the district and the board will surely reach a fever pitch in the coming weeks as school starts and the impact of the budget crunch will be felt in every facet of student’s lives.

-The redistricting effort to remove Christina’s Wilmington schools from their authority and place them under Red Clay Consolidated’s control.

State Rep. Sean Lynn’s Heartfelt Message To The Citizens of Delaware Over The FY2016 Budget

The Delaware House of Representatives passed the budget bill, but nine state reps voted no.  This budget will cut funding for some of the most vulnerable in our society while also continuing funding from Race To The Top which is no longer around.  I take issue with anyone getting a cut in funding while the DOE is living high off the hog.  I salute the nine who voted no.  Whether the bill passes or not in the Senate, I wanted to share what Rep. Sean Lynn publicly wrote on his legislator Facebook page.  I have to admit, I had my doubts about Rep. Lynn when he was running, but he, as well as Rep. Sean Matthews, have proven to be the brightest stars in this year’s Freshman class of House Representatives.  Without further ado, here is Rep. Lynn’s message to Delaware:

Early this morning, I, together with several other Delaware Legislators, voted “No” on the State Budget. I write this in a moment of solitude, rare in Legislative Hall for the early morning hours of July 1st.

It is 2 a.m., and I am tired. More than anything I want to go home and kiss my sleeping children on the forehead. What should be the highlight of my day will be tinged with disappointment given that, in some ways, their future and that of your children and families here in Delaware has never been more precarious.

Together, we face an estimated $170M (yes MILLION) dollar deficit in FY2017. There is no hope on the horizon for a responsible approach to address this deficit. Tonight our Legislature voted to ignore this crisis, and pass a budget that addresses only the most short sighted of goals.

Our district charged me with the immense responsibility of preserving and ensuring the middle class economy upon which the City of Dover and the State so desperately depend.

I could not, in good conscience, vote for a state budget that so intrinsically failed the middle class constituency that I swore to protect.

The budget that was passed failed to promote a strong economy built from the “middle out”. It failed the most vulnerable Delawareans, and further cemented the income inequality that, historically, has been the bedrock of economic catastrophe. It will invariably lead to the sacrifice of our most precious goals: maintaining the social safety net upon which so many depend, encouraging strong labor unions, maintaining services for our seniors, the expenditure of one time settlement funds hard won on the backs of those who lost their homes as a result of the sale of mortgage backed securities, and other, no less palatable, inequities that your family and mine will suffer in the coming years.

I remain resolute in my dedication to the people of my District and my State, and I remain hopeful that sufficient time exists to repair this failed economic policy.

– Sean

And here was the vote on House Substitute #1 for House Bill #225, which did pass the Senate already.

HS 1 for HB 225 M. Smith Passed

AN ACT MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE EXPENSE OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 2016; SPECIFYING CERTAIN PROCEDURES, CONDITIONS AND LIMITATIONS FOR THE EXPENDITURE OF SUCH FUNDS; AND AMENDING CERTAIN PERTINENT STATUTORY PROVISIONS.

Date: 07/01/2015 01:18 AM Passed

Vote Type:SM Yes: 30 No: 9 Not Voting: 0 Absent: 2

Barbieri Y J. Johnson Y Peterman A
Baumbach N Q. Johnson Y Potter Y
Bennett N Keeley Y Ramone Y
Bolden A Kenton Y B. Short Y
Brady Y Kowalko N D. Short Y
Briggs King N Longhurst Y M. Smith Y
Carson Y Lynn N Smyk Y
Collins N Matthews N Spiegelman Y
Dukes Y Miro Y Viola Y
Gray Y Mitchell Y K. Williams N
Heffernan Y Mulrooney Y Wilson Y
Hensley Y Osienski Y Yearick N
Hudson Y Outten Y Schwartzkopf Y
Jaques Y Paradee Y

And here is the Senate vote on the budget bill:

Vote Type:SM Yes: 18 No: 3 Not Voting: 0 Absent: 0

Blevins Y Hocker N Peterson Y
Bonini N Lavelle Y Pettyjohn N
Bushweller Y Lawson Y Poore Y
Cloutier Y Lopez Y Richardson Y
Ennis Y Marshall Y Simpson Y
Hall-Long Y McBride Y Sokola Y
Henry Y McDowell Y Townsend Y

Senate Conc. Resol. #39 Creates Group To Have 3/4 Majority Vote For Funding Of Charters & Univ. of Delaware & DSU

Because charter schools are corporations, and Delaware state code states all corporations get a 3/4 majority vote for any budget funding, Senator Colin Bonini introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution #39, which would create a working group to look at this issue.

This is actually a very smart move.  The budget bill requires a simple majority vote, but since this bill funds the above-mentioned corporations, the entire budget bill is being looked at.  The resolution passed with a unanimous vote in the Delaware Senate.

The group would begin on August 1st, 2015, and the report would be due to Governor Markell by 12/31/15.  I’m not exactly sure what this would do for charter schools in particular, as well as Del. State and Univ. of Delaware.  Could this group change the way charters are funded?  This could be very interesting and one to watch!

Governor Markell’s Budget Increase For Education Slashed In Half By Legislators

The legislators know Race To The Top is kaput.  So why keep existing programs?  This was their response according to Jonathan Starkey with the Delaware News Journal.  Out of the $7.5 million extra Governor Markell put in the budget, only $3.75 million is left.  So what got the axe?  10 high-paid positions at the DOE.  Less funding for data analysis, recruitment costs, and teacher prep initiatives.  While I hate to see anyone lose their job, the Delaware Department of Education has become a bloated beast in the past seven years.  While I would like to see the whole $7.5 million cut, the Joint Finance Committee put a major dent in the DOE’s plans.

Yesterday, on the agenda for the State Board of Education, six new positions in the Department’s Office of Assessment were proposed for data analysis.  One would assume this is to measure and collect data from the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Here is an effective cost-cutting proposal: opt-out!  Less data, less spending to “data-dive” and find “root cause analysis”.

I’m not sure how this came about, but the other $3.75 million went through to fund teacher prep programs (I guess these are different than the ones they cut?), a student “data portal” for teachers (Big Brother doing his thing), and more funding for the upcoming new science curriculums (funded by many and the scariest of all the education reforms).

This was my favorite quote from the article:

Rep. Joe Miro, R-Pike Creek Valley, said it was “refreshing” to see the 10 positions in the Department of Education eliminated from the budget, but called the remaining funding “extraordinary” and unnecessary.

Please note Markell’s proposed budget didn’t have funding going directly to help schools that are cash poor based on cuts from the last recession that were never restored and pay through the nose for “consultants”, Common Core, and the technology needed to administer the dismal Smarter Balanced Assessment.  God knows our schools need more special education funding.  Christina School District is trying to save jobs and resources while Jack Markell wants to give out more ridiculous salaries to inexperienced DOE employees who would rather play Human Capital than human compassion.