John Kowalko Doesn’t Hate Charter Schools But…

When you think of those who don’t support charter schools in Delaware, one of the first names that pops up is State Representative John Kowalko, from the 25th Rep. District.  Known for his arguments against charter schools, specifically Delaware’s biggest- Newark Charter School, it can be easy to make the assumption Kowalko hates charter schools.  However, that is not the case.

Earlier this weekend, Kowalko sent out an email to his constituents with his thoughts and beefs on Delaware charter schools. Continue reading

Advertisements

JFC Snuck In A Permanent Charter School Transportation Slush Fund Racket Into Budget Bill

The Delaware Joint Finance Committee did the unthinkable.  Every year since 2010, the Charter School Transportation Slush Fund has been a part of the epilogue language in the budget bill.  This is where Delaware charter schools get to keep whatever they don’t spend in their budgeted transportation amount.  As an example, if M. Smith Charter School budgets $200,000 for transportation and they only spend $150,000, they get to keep the rest of that money the state gave them.  School districts aren’t allowed to do this.

But now the JFC actually wrote a bill into the Epilogue Language of the FY2019 budget bill, Senate Bill 235.  In past years, it was just part of the budget bill but now they are inserting what should be a separate bill into the budget bill.  In other words, if you don’t vote yes for the budget bill, you are a traitor to all Delawareans.  So pass our charter school boon or risk being lambasted by the Democrat leadership.  This is what they are actually seeking to amend in the budget bill:

  1. b) Notwithstanding subsection a), a charter school may negotiate a contract (multi-year, if desired) for contractor payment for school transportation up to the maximum rate of 70% or the charter school may publicly bid the transportation routes. If the actual negotiated or bid costs are lower than the maximum rate, the charter school may keep the difference to provide services to low-income and/or English-Language Learners. If the charter school includes a fuel adjustment contract provision, the charter school shall be responsible for increased payments to the contractor or it may keep funds taken back from the contractor.

Anyone who follows end of June politics in Delaware knows that State Rep. John Kowalko fights this every single year.  This year is no exception but he is even more offended about them actually putting a bill in a bill.  He has his amendment ready to go:

AMEND Senate Bill No. 235 on page 233 by deleting “If the actual negotiated or bid costs are lower than the maximum rate, the charter school may keep the difference to provide services to low-income and/or English-Language Learners.

SYNOPSIS

This amendment to the budget bill removes a proposed addition to the Delaware Code contained in the epilogue language that would permanently allow charter schools to “keep the difference” for transportation funding that is not used to fund transportation costs.

The proposed addition to the Delaware Code would contradict the requirement in 14 Del. C. § 508(a) that the State reimburse charter schools only for actual transportation costs, which is also required for all other public schools pursuant to the Delaware Administrative Code.

Will the Delaware General Assembly finally stop this nonsense?  Who is pushing this besides the Delaware Charter Schools Network?  Could it be a departing co-chair of the Delaware JFC who pretty much had to resign so she could get her kid into Newark Charter School despite the improbability of getting in through their lottery and the HUGE waiting list?

The Fiscal Year 2019 Delaware Budget Bill Released

The full budget bill for Fiscal Year 2019 came out yesterday as Delaware Senate Bill #235.  It is an interesting budget.  The Delaware Teacher Center is back!  Teachers up and down the state will be thrilled about that.  The Charter School Transportation Slush Fund is still around.  Each year, State Rep. John Kowalko introduces an amendment to have it removed and each year the votes for it increase.  Will this year be when they finally pass it?  Read the full FY2019 budget bill below!

Carney Raises Local Payments To Charters 2% In Budget Request Based On “Inflation”

Delaware Governor John Carney delivered his FY2019 Proposed Budget and it looks like Delaware charter schools will get some extra cash out of the deal if the General Assembly includes this in their final budget they must vote on by June 30th!

Is this even legal?  Does the Governor have the legal authority to arbitrarily raise a percentage amount for local payments from districts to charters based on “inflation”?  Sadly, he does.  It is written in Title 14.

So what do sections 408 and 509 of Title 14 say?

408:

(e) The district of residence shall, except as provided for in subsection (h) of this section, pay to the receiving district the lower local

cost per pupil expenditure of the 2 districts, adjusted by an inflation factor specified annually in the annual appropriations act, such

payment to be made by November 30 of each year.

509:

(d) The Department of Education shall annually calculate the local cost per student expended by each school district for each type of

student for the year immediately preceding based on the formula set forth in subsection (e) of this section, adjusted by a factor necessary

to fund the charter school on a basis reasonably equivalent to the current year local cost per student, which factor shall be established in

the annual Appropriations Act. The Department shall annually certify each local district’s local cost per student expenditure by September

1 of each year.

So does that mean Delaware school districts are getting 2% more based on “inflation”?  Absolutely not.  Everything goes up in price.  So saying “inflation” without any meaning behind it is just another way to give charter schools more money.  I do not blame the charters for this, I blame the power brokers that snuck this in there.  Of course it is absolutely legal because it is in state code.  But that certainly doesn’t make it right or moral.  Add the extra match tax funds charters will get this year and it is obvious charter lobbyists will squeeze as much juice out of the district fruit as they can!  Lest we forget, charters do get state funding.  They don’t live and die based on local student payments.  They get as much state funding (except for capital costs) that traditional school districts do.  They also have the charter school transportation slush fund

So, About Those Attorney Fees For The Charter Lawsuit…

Who is the benefactor to the 15 charter schools suing the Christina School District and the Delaware Department of Education?  You know, the one where the almighty (or are they?) charter schools want more money?  Led and initiated by Newark Charter School who got fourteen other charters to follow suit.  Literally.  As in a lawsuit.  But they had a little problem they had to take care of first.  The damn attorney fees.

I imagine taking a case like this would involve a lot of prep work and discovery.  Saul Ewing, LLP is the law firm representing the fifteen charter schools in their lawsuit against the Christina School District and the Delaware Department of Education.  As the named parties are represented by their own counsel, the charters would have to be able to definitively prove their case.  Or at least a perception of their case.  That’s what attorneys do.  Make a jury or judge believe their side of the story, whether it is right or wrong.  It is always about the belief.  But who is paying Saul Ewing for this lawsuit? Continue reading

Student Body Activity In Delaware Schools A Hotbed For Fraud & Abuse! Why Is $118,126.88 Such An Important Number?

The Delaware accounting system is a train wreck of epic proportions.  I found 100% proof funds were switched around that benefit certain schools.  We have one charter school that can’t even follow proper accounting procedures and another charter school that seems to think Student Body Activities are their personal playground.

FY2016StudentBodyActivityDistrictCharters

For something like this chart, I would expect to see school districts firmly in the lead, but we don’t see that at all.  Cape Henlopen is a bit of an oddity when it comes to Delaware school districts.  They get a lot of money from school taxes and the residents in those areas don’t seem to mind paying them.  But Newark Charter School, with $445,000 in student body activities?  That is an excessively high amount.  For a charter school with a student population of less than 14% of the neighboring Christina School District, they spend 17 times more on activities for students than Christina.  Four districts and one charter don’t even have anything coded as “Student Body Activity” with the state: Caesar Rodney, Colonial, Delmar, Sussex Tech, and Sussex Academy.  Do they not have any student body activities or do they just put it somewhere else in the Rubik’s Cube called the Delaware Financial System (DFS)?

So how does this even work?  Are districts and charters paying out for field trips and fun activities and then reimbursing those costs as revenue generated from parents paying for them?  Are these schools paying for them without collecting any money from students?  Or is it a combination of both?

Do these activities affect the bottom line for the per student costs for each district and charter school?

FY2016StudentBodyActivityPerStudent

Rocketing to number one with $108,000 in student body activity costs based on their number of students is Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security (DAPSS).  That sure is a lot of field trips!  We know they bought a fire truck for their students last winter, but those funds were generated from a collection by students.  So what accounts for such a high amount based on their student population?  I went on Delaware Online Checkbook and found that DAPPS is coding all their student transportation costs under student body activity.  So that throws their numbers way off!  We can clearly see the transportation costs as part of this category, with an amount totaling $84,236.  Had they coded this correctly, under student transportation, their costs for student body activity would have been a little over $23,000.

For Newark Charter School’s student body activity expenses on Delaware Online Checkbook, there is no explanation for their very high amounts.  While we do see transportation costs, they are not as high as DAPSS.  They appear to be transportation costs associated with field trips.  What is even more bizarre are the many payments going to certain individuals.  As if they are parents or teachers.  We see amounts going out to American Airlines for 26 purchases of what I assume to be airline tickets at $818 each and one for $875 totaling over $21,000 on 2/5/16 which were bought with the state procurement card on 1/15/16.  I reviewed NCS board minutes and found no mention of any big field trips for students taking place that would warrant such high airline ticket prices.  The state’s accounting manual is explicit that no state employee can purchase first class airline tickets.  So where was this trip to that cost $818 for each ticket?

Cape Henlopen has an obscene amount of p-card activity associated with student body activities under student body activity.  Like Newark Charter School, I see a lot of names associated with these charges.

Where this gets incredibly odd is when I went to look at examples of student body activity for different school districts and charters.  A Delaware citizen submitted a FOIA request to the state and received the FOIA in early July.  All of this citizen’s information was run by the Department of Finance on 7/2/16 for every single district and charter school’s expenses for Fiscal Year 2016.  June 30th was the end of the fiscal year.  All the charts and graphs I have made to date have been based on those figures.  But upon review, amounts are changing in the state accounting system.  The total expenditures for each district and charter are the same, but funds are moving around in the coding system.  As an example, Odyssey Charter School showed over $35,000 in student body activity costs.  But when I look now on Delaware Online Checkbook, the amount is over $153,000.  This trend occurred with many districts and charters, some for nominal amounts and some for rather considerable amounts.  And this is just under student body activity expenses.

In looking at Odyssey, it became clear something was up, so I was able to actually find the exact amount that was shifted over to student body activity.

odysseystudbodyactivity

In the above picture, we clearly see Odyssey Charter School, as of 21:06:44 on 07/02/16 had a total amount for FY2016 in Student Body Activity in the amount of $35,831.91.

odysseystudbodyactivitydeonlinechkbook

In the above snapshot, taken from Delaware Online Checkbook today about ten minutes ago, we clearly see an amount showing $153,958.79.  The difference between the two is $118,126.88.  That is a rather steep increase for student body activities!  In looking at their expenses for student body activity for Odyssey, I found two rather large amounts going to First Student Inc.  This is the bus company Odyssey uses.  As seen in the below picture, the two charges were for $69,486.40 and $48,640.48.  If you add those up, you get $118,126.88.  Now why would those funds be shifted from some other category to student body activity?

OdysseyFirstStateIncBusPmtsFY2016

The two payments to First Student Inc. are listed in the below picture.

odysseyfirststateincpmts$118k

So if $118,126.88 was shifted to Student Body Activity, where did the funds come from?  If Odyssey’s total expenditures didn’t change, what happened to the money?  In the FOIA from 7/2/16, it clearly shows Odyssey’s Fleet Rental costs at $612,546.34.

OdysseyFleetRental

Now watch what happens when I go on Delaware Online Checkbook to find out the current Fleet Rental amount for Odyssey Charter School…

OdysseyFY2016FleetRentalDEOnlineChkbook

Wait, it went down from $612,546.34 to $494,419.46.  That is a difference of $118,126.88

There is one thing charter schools get that traditional school districts don’t get.  Some call it the transportation slush fund.  Every year, in the epilogue to the state budget, there is a stipulation that allows charter schools to keep any difference between their budgeted amount for transportation and what they actually spend.  For Odyssey, this is listed as “Transportation” in their budget.  These costs go up each year.  But how much did charter schools get to keep from these surplus funds.  Surely it wasn’t that much.  In the below pictures from FY2014 and FY2015, we see how much charters get back from this slush fund.

OdysseyFY2014TransportationFunds

FY2015BusContracts

Odyssey has clearly benefitted from this arrangement with legislators that has continued for the past seven years in the epilogue of the state budget.  I sincerely hope charters aren’t hiding any funds so they can actually get more from the Delaware Charter School Transportation Slush Fund then they already are!

What I am more curious about with these coding changes are 1) Why are they happening, 2) Who is making the changes, and 3) Are both the districts or charters and the state aware of these changes if only one of them are making the changes?  Something to keep in mind is this simple fact: this is only for Student Body Activity.  There are hundreds of codes in the Delaware Financial System.  This is just what I could find for our schools in one code.

FY2016CodingChangesStudentBodyActivity

In the picture above, this is based on rounded off figures to the nearest dollar which is why the Odyssey number doesn’t match up with the $118,126.88 I mentioned a few times.  I have not been able to look at the other schools to see where the money is going to.  Odyssey was easy because of the high amounts involved.  While some of these amounts are small, what other shifts are going on?  Why are they going on for other areas if they are?  We know districts and charters code things incorrectly but who monitors that?  Does anyone?  And how much does all this shifting of taxpayer dollars affect funding for the next fiscal year?

I would strongly recommend each district or charter school Chief Operating Officer or Business Manager proactively gets in touch with me and voluntarily lets me know of any changes being made to the Delaware Financial System, the justification for these changes, and how they are able to do it.  If they aren’t aware of these changes, they need to let me know that as well.  Because as I go through each of the different codes in the coming weeks, I will find more.  I’ve already done a cursory glance at different (and major) categories and found excessive sums of money shifting around.  If you don’t get in touch with me, don’t get upset when I blast the lack of transparency from your school or district in each article.  We know this is happening.  So the choice is simple: be held accountable or be honest.  If there is funny business, you know I will expose it and call you out on it.  And each time, I am submitting requests to the State Auditor’s office for each and every category.  So you can ignore me all you want, but know that someone else will be knocking on your door.  And if the State Auditor’s office ignores this, it is time to take steps at a Federal level.  None of you who are manipulating funds will be allowed to do so anymore.  If the Auditor won’t hold you accountable, I will.  And I will make so much noise you won’t be able to hear above the outcries of the citizens in your district or charter school.  This begins now.  I don’t want to hear any crap about “I didn’t know” or “no one ever told me”.  You are all subject to the rules of this state.  Your excuses are exactly that: an excuse.  If you aren’t doing anything wrong, you won’t have anything to worry about.  But someone has to shake all this up and see what settles at the bottom.

I sincerely hope I’m not spoiling anyone’s party and ruining a chance to get some extra money for themselves.  The party’s over.  Deal with it.

 

Delaware FY2017 Budget As Of 6/23/16, WEIC Redistricting Funds Are NOT In The Budget!!!!

Updated, 6:31pm: I’ve just been told the $6 million allocated to WEIC will be in a separate budget bill pending the results of the Senate vote next week.  Not sure how all that works, but okay…

Senate Bill 285 was introduced yesterday on the Senate floor in Delaware.  This is the Delaware State Budget for Fiscal Year 2017 as of 6/23/16 after the Joint Finance Committee made cuts a couple weeks ago.  Let me stress this, and I looked everywhere.  The budgeted $6 million for WEIC is not in Senate Bill 285.  The bill was left on the table.  Which means they will pick it up again next week and make many changes I’m sure.  The epilogue language has been written into the bill.  Anything underlined is new epilogue language.  That is where a lot of changes take place, and for education that is where we see things like the charter school transportation “slush” fund.  I am also including the Governor’s proposed budget, Senate Bill 175, to compare what Governor Markell put in there and what has changed since.

I went through the entire thing with a fine-tooth comb.  I wrote about the changes between the proposed budget and the current one below.  This is strictly for education.  But if you want to look in all departments the documents will have those.  Of note is the fact DEFAC found another $7.5 million earlier this week.  The state refinanced some bonds at lower costs based on interest rates.  But it was announced on Wednesday at the Joint Finance Committee those funds would not be going toward WEIC.  So where did the $6,000,000 allocated for WEIC in the Governor’s budget disappear to?  I just read the entire budget bill, word by word over the past two hours.  There is nothing with WEIC in there at all.

I did see that instead of being a line item, the $500,000 allocated to Autism legislation will come from the Tobacco Fund.  The charter school transportation “slush” fund is still in Section 342 (paging John Kowalko).

SEED Scholarship went down from $6,156,600 to $5,656,600 –$500,000

Student Assessment system went down from $6,051,100 to $5,916,500 –$134,600

Energy Costs for the DOE went down from $75,000 to $72,100 –$2,900

Charter School Performance fund taken out for $500,000

Technology Block grant went down from $3,500,000 to $2,500,000 -$1,000,000

Educational Sustainment Fund went down from $4,000,000 to $1,000,000 -$3,000,000

Statewide Afterschool Initiative Learning Program taken out for $1,000,000

Career Pathways taken out for $250,ooo

**Wilmington Education Improvement Commission taken out for $6,000,000**

Teacher Compensation Reform taken out for $1,000,000

Academic Excellence Block grant went down from $39,560,700 to $38,753,800 -806,900

Early Childhood Initiatives went down from $18,255,900 to $16,255,900 -$2,000,000

Education Block grants went down from $55,156,300 to $54,394,400 –$761,900

Special Needs Programs went down from $47,006,300 to $45,006,300, -$2,000,000

Total decrease for Department of Education from Governor’s proposed budget to current budget: -$16,956,300

 

DELAWARE SENATE BILL 285: THE BUDGET BILL

GOVERNOR MARKELL’S PROPOSED BUDGET FOR FY 2017

 

 

 

Charters Making Out Like Bandits With Minor Capital Improvements Loophole!

Delaware State Representative John Kowalko requested information on how much Delaware charters are getting in minor capital improvement funding through Governor Markell’s proposed budget.  In the past three fiscal years, Delaware charters were allowed to receive $351,857 total from the state budget.  This year, Markell has an astonishing $1,587,310 allocated for charter school minor capital funding.  This is approximately four and a half times the average yearly amount.  Kowalko is not happy about this and asked to share this letter he wrote his colleagues in the 148th General Assembly.

Dear Colleagues,

Here is the amount of minor cap improvement money spent on Charter School facilities. This is out of a proposed $11 million in the Governor’s budget for MCI allotted for all public schools in Delaware including the many crumbling and outdated buildings in Wilmington and elsewhere.  It should not be necessary to point out to all of you that none of these charter school facilities are owned in whole or part by Delaware taxpayers and every dollar spent goes to enhancing the value of privately owned facilities. Not one penny will come back to the taxpayer if these buildings are sold or abandoned. This is an abuse of taxpayer monies and an abdication of our responsibilities to those taxpayers.

Representative John Kowalko
A voice of reason in an out of control charter friendly General Assembly!
And here are the amount each charter will get.  Of course, this is subject to the approval of the General Assembly when they pass the budget.

CharterMinorCapFundingPt1

CharterMinorCapFundingPt2

Yeah, I wasn’t too happy when I saw this either.  So aside from this surplus funding which was not part of the original charter school law but got added in to House Bill 165 in 2013, charters also get funds from the charter school performance fund, the charter school transportation slush fund, and many donations from places like the Longwood Foundation, Rodel, and The Welfare Foundation along with others.  When will the madness stop?  Kendall Massett spoke at the House Education Committee meeting last week to speak against House Bill 231, sponsored by State Rep. Sean Matthews.  His bill would require charters to have all teachers as part of the state retirement fund.  Massett spoke against it stating that the original charter school bill allowed charters to have extra flexibility from state bureaucracy.  But apparently when it benefits the charters, they don’t speak out against that…

John Kowalko Dishes On Charters, DOE, & Governor Markell With Larry Mendte

Larry Mendte’s weekly program, The Delaware Way, aired its most recent segment yesterday.  One of the interview subjects was none other than State Rep. John Kowalko.  Mendte and Kowalko primarily talked about The Public Integrity Commission’s recent grade for Delaware in transparency.  You know, that glaring “F”.  Kowalko said he was surprised Delaware wasn’t 5oth out of 50, as opposed to 48th.  I recommend watching this, and not just cause of the name drop near the end!  I guess Larry didn’t want to hear about that!  But thanks anyways John!

Sussex Academy Gets A Pool Donated By Board Member’s Two Sons & Their Real Estate Company

A couple weeks ago, I was hanging out at Legislative Hall with some folks, and we were discussing how Sussex Academy, the only charter school in Sussex Academy, is having a pool built on their campus.  We were wondering how they could afford a pool.  That would have been a huge capital expense for a traditional school district, much less a charter school.  But then we found out the pool was donated by a company, so no hot story there.  Some company called Schell Brothers.

It fell off my radar as those kind of things do.  I was getting rid of some files on my computer, and I tend to bookmark all the charter school board minutes.  I saw the Sussex Academy minutes from April, and I wondered if there was any mention of the pool in there.  I didn’t see any.  I did see some notes about how they were going to charge students $10 to get a permit to park on campus.  When the school got the permit back, they would be refunded $5.00.  I thought that was odd but nothing huge.

Then I looked up at their board members, and a name popped out at me.  Joseph Schell.  I immediately put the names together…Joseph Schell…Schell Brothers.  Did a board member donate a pool to the school?  No.  His twin sons did, through their real estate company, Schell Brothers.  The company was funded through a trust named after Joseph Schell.

That’s really awesome!  The school gets a pool!  I have to wonder though, does the donation include the planned second floor balcony and the elevator to get to that second floor?  Does it include all the costs associated with the pool: water, electricity, maintenance, chlorine, insurance costs?  Or is that something the state will pay for?  I would be happy if Joseph Schell or anyone from the school can provide these answers.  It’s a Sunday evening as I write this, so I’m sure the school isn’t open.  The only mention of the pool in their board minutes comes in January 2015, when Joseph Schell announces “a local business will pay for an aquatic center which should be complete mid 2015 or early 2016.”  I would love to hear the recordings of all their board meetings to get more details, but alas, the school doesn’t do that.

Sussex Academy is receiving $60,703 as per Senate Bill 160, the bond bill.  The total for all charters is over $1.4 million dollars for minor capital improvements.  They are allotted the same portion as a vo-cational school district based on unit funds.  Apparently it doesn’t matter if the state owns the properties or not.  So add in the $1.4 million the charters got to keep from the charter school transportation slush fund, whereby they get to keep any excess transportation costs over their contracted bid amount from their budget for “educational purposes”.  Oh yeah, they also get $1 million this year for their performance award.  That’s, let me do some non-common core math here, $3.8 million dollars for charter schools.  And our budget was short how much this year before all the other cuts… $68 million?

Back to Sussex Academy.  Did the board vote on this donation?  Did Joseph Schell recuse himself from the vote due to a potential conflict of interest?  What if something pool related comes up for a vote?  Would the fact that a board member has very close blood relationships with the owners of the company that gave the pool to them have any potential for an issue?  I can’t imagine it would be a problem unless Joseph Schell is the head of the finance committee for the school.  Just because he speaks on all financial matters in their board minutes doesn’t mean he runs that show.

Sussex Academy received over $4.6 million in revenues as per their 2014 tax form 1099.  It did mention the Sussex Academy Foundation which donated over $1.4 million to the school in 2014.  This seems to be from donations.  Curiously, on their 990 form, in schedule E, they wrote “The Academy is fully supported through grants and funding from local school districts, and therefore does not solicit contributions from outside organizations.”  Well, that’s a relief!  I’m just glad they marked no for all the areas marked in Section 5 of schedule E, especially item B.  You know, the part about the organization discriminating by race in any way with respect to admissions policies.  I’m sure that whole ACLU complaint to the Office of Civil Rights matter against the Delaware Department of Education and Red Clay Consolidated School District, which mentions Sussex Academy as an example of discrimination and segregation, will clear itself up…

To get a look at all of the school’s board minutes and 990 tax forms, look no further than here, all on one page: https://saparents.team-logic.com/index.cfm?teamLogic=deptPages.view&groupID=215

House Bill 186 Is #1 With A Bullet, Aimed Directly At Charter School Accountability

The Delaware House of Representatives released their House Agenda for their last day of legislative session until January 2016.  The first item on the agenda is State Rep. Kim William’s House Bill 186.  These are the reasons this bill needs to pass:

1) Noel Rodriguez & Academy of Dover- $127,000 in personal spending and another $129,000 the State Auditor isn’t sure was used for school or personal spending.  As well, an anonymous source informed me two other staff members at the school were also pilfering funds, and this was reported to the FBI, but nothing has come from any of that…

2) Family Foundations Academy, Sean Moore & Tennell Brewington- over $90,000 in person spending between this dynamic duo, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in other questionable spending performed by this school during their reign.  The State Auditor’s report hasn’t come out yet on this one, but it will be a doozy that may make Academy of Dover look weak in comparison.

3) Delaware Military Academy & Jack Wintermantel- while out of the news, this 2013 State Auditor investigation found numerous financial violations at this school.  Source: http://auditor.delaware.gov/Reports/FY2013/DMA%20Investigative%20Report.pdf

4) The seeming inability for many charter schools to accurately code items correctly on the state financing website, as indicated by what is shown on Delaware Online Checkbook.  In some situations, funds are allocated in areas that have absolutely nothing to do with why the funds were spent, i.e. Academy of Dover putting a payment for an out of state residential treatment center under “Employee Recognition”.  Furthermore, putting students names in a special education settlement transaction on Delaware Online Checkbook is a clear violation of FERPA legislation but schools continue to do this.

5) Section 347 of Paragraph 508 of Title 14: This special designation for charter schools allows them to keep the unused portion of their transportation funds for “educational purposes”, but there is no clear mention of what those “educational purposes” can be, or where the funds should be directed on an accounting level.  In the past two fiscal years, over $2.4 million dollars was kept by Delaware charter schools, with Family Foundations Academy and Newark Charter School each keeping over $400,000 EACH from this caveat.

6) As indicated by the ten charter school performance fund applications I just posted, most schools don’t have a clue about finances and what funds can go to which allotment.

7) The Delaware Charter School Network is vehemently opposed to this bill- while they have a right to be concerned about the cost of audits, the cost to taxpayers over the complete and utter disregard of how taxpayer funds are spent as well as the strain and disruption this places on all education in Delaware makes it very clear more oversight is needed over the Wild West of Finances occurring in our charter schools.  As well, at least two of the current or former members of their governing board are/were heads of school at two of the charter schools that are being investigated, and one of them sits on the Charter School Accountability Committee at the Delaware DOE

8) The DOE is not in a position to do anything about this: through a complete lack of oversight over the charter schools they authorize, the DOE has never caught fraud in the act.  They do not monitor they money flowing in and out of these schools

9) Lack of oversight at the charter schools themselves- many charter schools just started having a Citizens Budget Oversight Committee this year.  This has been in state code for years.  As well, a DOE representative is supposed to be at each meeting for each school.  If some of these schools that have operated for years never had a DOE rep at their non-existent CBOC meetings, than the DOE fell asleep at the wheel but they are never held accountable.

10) In discussing House Bill 186, the State Auditor’s office said seven charter schools are under investigation.  We know Academy of Dover, Family Foundations Academy, and Providence Creek Academy are three, but who are the other four?  Judging by their board minutes, Thomas Edison Charter School may be one, but who are the other three and why are they being investigated?

Kendall Massett at the Delaware Charter Schools Network is fighting like a House Bill 50 parent proponent, but she is against this bill.  She has emails going out every day begging parents to email legislators to stop this bill.  Should what is essentially a lobbyist firm receive that much free reign to stop a bill?  What is Kendall so afraid of?  Is there something much, much bigger yet to be discovered?  That wouldn’t shock me at all.