I see this with charter schools quite a bit but postponing a regular board meeting for a school district? That is highly unusual! Today, the Christina School District postponed their regular January Board of Education meeting scheduled for tonight at Bayard Middle School. Is this a fluke or is there a specific reason the meeting was postponed? Continue reading
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At the end of the Christina School District Board of Education meeting last week, State Representative Paul Baumbach spoke before the board. He thanked the board and the district for the changes they implemented in the past year and “strongly encouraged” them to keep doing it. There was a specific reason Baumbach did this. He admitted the General Assembly doesn’t help. Continue reading
I put up the new Christina MOU the other day. Since then I have heard nothing but outrage from Christina teachers. Everything from pay to a change in seniority. Veteran Christina teachers in the ‘burbs certainly don’t like the fact they could get rif’d over newer teachers in the city who sign a commitment letter.
The Christina Board will vote on this mess Tuesday night. I would lay odds the board will vote in the affirmative on it. But the members of the Christina Education Association will vote to ratify this a couple days later. If they vote no on the MOU it is back to the drawing board. What will that mean for the whole consolidation of the Christina Wilmington schools?
It has almost been a year since Delaware Governor John Carney announced his intention to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Christina Wilmington Schools. This partnership between his office, the Christina School District, the Christina Board of Education, and the Delaware Department of Education has been missing one key ingredient. Until today. The Christina Education Association came up with a new MOU which was publicly released today. If this passes, the stage is set for the consolidation of the Christina Wilmington schools. Continue reading
I’m hearing from multiple sources the Wilmington Christina schools are having problems of epic proportions. Teachers are leaving these schools in epic numbers. Continue reading
Something is up in the Christina School District involving Superintendent Richard Gregg. The following appears on Board Docs for their next Board of Education meeting on July 10th: Continue reading
A new board policy under review for the Christina Board of Education would give their Board President an overwhelming amount of power and weaken their board considerably. Continue reading
Last night the Christina Board of Education, in front of a packed house, passed the Memorandum of Understanding between the district, the Delaware Department of Education and Governor John Carney’s office with a 4-2-1 vote. Board members John Young and Elizabeth Paige voted no while member Angela Mitchell abstained. The tense meeting, which lasted over three hours, had Carney sitting in the audience the entire time. While the News Journal, WHYY, and WDEL all came to the meeting, many parts of the meeting were not covered in their articles. Continue reading
Governor Carney and the Delaware Department of Education almost had us. They were THIS close. In another 24 hours or so they could have gotten away with it. Their plan to completely evaporate the Christina School District Wilmington student population will depend on the vote at the Christina Board meeting tomorrow night. But they NEVER told us about the loophole. Does a Memorandum of Understanding give a state Governor the power to “waive” a law? I think not! Continue reading
The Christina Board of Education will finally vote on the Memorandum of Understanding between Governor Carney’s office, the Delaware Department of education, the district and the Board of Education on Tuesday night at Sarah Pyle Academy. Their regular Board of Education meeting begins at 7pm. What’s at stake? Schools closing and consolidating into two schools. Governor Carney’s reputation. The Christina School District Wilmington students in Kindergarten to 8th grade.
Even if you don’t live in Christina, this will be something to watch. It isn’t every day a Governor proposes this kind of action. Some say it is needed while others say it is too much. Some say the Board should vote yes while others say mixing these student populations from different areas of the city is a powder keg waiting to explode. Some say forget the past and keep an open mind while others say Carney’s office doesn’t have the first clue as to what these kids need. We will find out what the Christina Board votes on Tuesday evening.
The below pictures were released by the Christina School District:
If I were Christina, I would want to see a big fat check hand-delivered by John Carney before I put ink to this. They are putting a lot of trust in a state that has continually targeted this one particular district if they vote yes. Sorry, I don’t trust Carney. He has yet to prove he can be trusted.
Last evening, the Christina School District Board of Education held their second board meeting of the month. There were only two items on the agenda: a recommendation to approve the Memorandum of Understanding between the district and Governor Carney’s office and approval of their final Fiscal Year 2018 budget.
The board punted on the MOU vote again, choosing to table a vote until their February 6th board meeting. All five board members in attendance voted yes on tabling the vote. They were George Evans, Fred Polaski, Meredith Griffin, Harrie Ellen Minnehan, and John Young. Board members Elizabeth Paige and Angela Mitchell did not attend the meeting. The board has voted to table this vote several times now which must assuredly be frustrating Carney’s office. When it came time to vote on their final budget for this fiscal year, all board members in attendance voted yes with the exception of Young. The board voted on the same recommendation last week, but that failed with a 3-2 vote.
Governor John Carney’s office mentioned the proposed MOU in Carney’s proposed Annual Appropriations bill yesterday. They have 15 million in capital funds earmarked for the district and 1.5 million in opportunity grants. The capital funds would be used for construction costs for some of their Wilmington schools as the MOU calls for consolidation of Christina’s Wilmington schools from five to two. Carney also mentioned Christina in his State of the State address last week.
The next day I posted a bold prediction for Christina. I received no response from Carney’s office or Christina School District about those predictions. I heard this information from various sources in Delaware. The odd part is NO ONE has been talking about it aside from some messages I received from some curious and very worried district teachers. I was not able to reveal my sources to those individuals.
As the district in Delaware that sends the most in local payments to Delaware charter schools, they face a potential financial hit with Carney recommending another 2% goes to charters in FY2019 due to “inflation”.
Last night, the Christina School District Board of Education voted again to table a vote on the Memorandum of Understanding between the district, the Delaware Dept. of Education, and Governor Carney’s office. From the sounds of it, Carney is getting very impatient with Christina. Board member John Young included a quote from Carney and his response to it on a Facebook post today.
“I’m disappointed that the board did not act tonight to address the serious challenges facing students in these Wilmington schools. We have made it a priority to work in collaboration with Christina to do right by these students. We have offered significant new resources to support educators and students in Wilmington. We can’t afford to wait and delay on this issue any longer.” – John Carney
Well, we do share an emotion: It’s so disappointing to have a partner at the table use this situation for political gain. Not surprising, just disappointing. The MOU currently on the table is the Governor’s version. It makes barely a fraction of the commitment necessary to help our students, is the furthest thing from “significant resources”, and seems to be hyper-focused on only getting one thing done: a dual-generation center. This leaves all our K-8 students in the rain holding a wet bag of nothing, Governor John Carney. Your charged declaration proves what I have sadly suspected: this plan isn’t about helping our students at all. The board, while tabling this terribly lopsided version, ardently pledged to stay at the table and work. I know that’s what I’m committed to doing. I’d really rather not spend much effort like this responding to divisive nonsense like your declaration; however, I will not sit idly by as you disparage the process and hard work of all partners, including your own staff. Let’s get to work instead of name calling and finger pointing, Governor.
As always, I’m right here.
Young gave his cell phone number after the last sentence but I do not feel comfortable providing that on a blog. When Young addressed him as Governor John Carney, that was linked to his Facebook profile.
I think things are about to get very interesting in Christina. As I’ve written before, Carney does NOT like anyone challenging him. He takes that very seriously. Will Carney try to pull some type of “priority schools” stunt on Christina if they do not act on the MOU? I would be willing to bet he will. Something will happen. I have no idea what that is.
As well, the Christina board voted NO on their final Fiscal Year 2018 budget. While this does not mean the state will stop disbursing funds to the district, it could affect their local payments. It certainly did not make Christina Chief Financial Officer Robert Silber or Superintendent Richard Gregg have a good night. Things are getting interesting up there.
The latest Memorandum of Understanding concerning Governor John Carney’s plans for Christina has an ask of $18.5 million in additional state funding to implement the plan. This is, of course, based on approval by the Delaware General Assembly as they hammer out the FY2019 budget over the next six months.
The latest draft of the MOU, authored by Carney’s Education Policy Adviser Jon Sheehan, is a red-lined version. The new wording in the document is all red-lined. Keep in mind this is more than the initial ask from the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission. Carney, from all reports I’ve heard, wants this plan to go through more than anything in the world. How much so? He will most likely do anything to make it happen. I’m not sure why he has made this his top priority in education matters. I think it is a red herring with danger signs written all over it. I believe he is counting on the Christina Board of Education to vote no on it so he can launch some dastardly punitive action against the district. I believe it is the same tactic Governor Markell used with WEIC. Get everyone talking about it knowing full well the General Assembly wasn’t going to approve it. The key difference between this and that is with WEIC the state already had a budget deficit when faced with that vote. This time around, Delaware is boasting of a budget surplus. I believe there are some smoke and mirrors with their numbers and I believe there is some fuzzy math with their formulas. We shall see.
From a legislator’s point of view, the funding for this is based on Wilmington schools. As WEIC learned the hard way, giving extra and significant funding to one portion of the state and not the rest is not an easy task. Like I said the other week, everyone and their mother will be jockeying for their share of the mystical “budget surplus”. In an election year, incumbents will NOT want to tick off voters in their districts. I think Carney knows this. Or he is that stupid. But I’ll go with the former on this one. Which is why I think it is a red herring.
The latest draft appears to have concessions granted to the Christina Board from their last discussion. The Christina Board wanted to change the timeline from the 2018-2019 school year to the 2019-2020 year. But the wording in the draft suggests Carney wants the Dual Generation Center up and running in 2018. If that went through, there would definitely be some type of building movement by August of this year.
In the meantime, check out the latest Jon Sheehan penned draft of the MOU which the Christina Board will vote on at their next board meeting on January 16th. It would have gone to a vote tonight but the meeting was postponed due to inclement weather.
Enough already Paul Baumbach! In his second attempt at lowering school board terms, State Representative Paul Baumbach filed House Bill #278 yesterday seeking to lower school district board member terms from five years to four years.
In 2015, Baumbach’s House Bill #333, which sought to lower those terms to three years went nowhere. It was assigned to the House Education Committee but never came up. Due to heavy resistance to the bill, Baumbach did state he would probably come back with this bill at a later date. And he did!
Why is Baumbach so adamant about messing with school boards? Why does he not include charter school boards in this legislation? The answer is simple: he does not like certain school board members in the Christina School District. Which is fine and he is certainly entitled to his opinion, but his judgment is impaired when it comes to translating this to a statewide issue. I get that State Representatives are supposed to represent the district they were elected to, but they also pass laws for the entire state. It is not beneficial to make local issues a statewide issue. And once again, we have the very real question about WHO is asking for this legislation and how much of it is directed towards certain board members who frequently and publicly go against bad education policy in the state.
One thing I can say is State Reps in Delaware are elected every two years. So this is not a case of legislators being hypocritical. School board members do this because they want to. It is unpaid and requires a great deal of time and effort to be on a school board. I don’t think any school board member takes their responsibilities lightly. I wish more school board members would question things which Baumbach seems to have a problem with.
Yesterday, the News Journal Editorial Team covered the highly inappropriate school board member removal bill that is currently in circulation for sponsorship. They just so happened to throw in a part about school board member terms:
Also, lawmakers should consider shortening school board members’ five-year terms. Why should they have to face voters less frequently than governors, legislators and mayors?
Come on! Who are we trying to kid here? Is the News Journal Editorial Team now a part of Team Baumbach when it comes to this kind of crap? They just happen to say this on the SAME day Baumbach filed House Bill #282? I don’t mind term limits for any elected position, but school boards are NOT the same as governors, legislators, and mayors. There is a learning curve, but there is also the heart of a volunteer. There are charter school board members who have sat on their boards for over a decade! But not one word about that from the would-be demolisher of local board control Baumbach or this Editorial Team. I don’t always agree with some board members out there, but I do not think lowering the term for this function is a good idea at all.
Baumbach needs to re-examine his priorities and actually support the second largest school district in the state instead of trying to interfere with their governance process. Attending more of their board meetings would be a start. He wouldn’t dare interfere with Newark Charter School but it’s open target season on Christina. Could you be less transparent here Baumbach? Stop listening to the mouths of the few and start coming out with real and meaningful legislation that benefits the state. This is not good for your political health.
To read Baumbach School Board Terms 2.0, please see below:
The Christina School District Board of Education voted 5-2 to table the Memorandum of Understanding between the Christina School District and Delaware Governor John Carney’s office. In a nutshell, this means it isn’t dead but will most likely come up at a future board meeting. Carney’s office gave Christina a deadline of February 28th to approve the whole thing, even the portion which would consolidate five schools into two. The two no votes belonged to board members John Young and Elizabeth Paige.
Carney is going to be one pissed off Governor tonight! In my opinion, this MOU was a bait and switch to begin with. Now that the Christina Board has essentially said “screw you and your MOU”, he can REALLY go after the district. Which means he will bring out the big guns and threats of charter conversion. These are predictions on my end with nothing to base them on. Nothing but history. To see the latest draft, please see below:
Last night, the Christina Board of Education voted 5-2 to push back Delaware Governor John Carney’s consolidation plan for Christina’s Wilmington students until the 2019-2020 school year. They felt the initiative would need more time. The no votes belonged to board members George Evans and Fred Polaski. State Rep. John Kowalko gave public comment concerning the plan. To say he was not in favor would be an understatement. Kowalko brought up many good points which the Governor and the Delaware DOE ought to consider.
I and 9 other legislators attended a meeting called by Governor Carney less than a week ago purportedly to discuss the proposed Wilmington school reform plan and MOU proposal. Since we weren’t given copies of the MOU and it doesn’t seem to be available any longer at the link the Administration provided I cannot offer or challenge some of the specifics. At this meeting the Governor suggested that the MOU draft submitted by DOE would be changed and this board is not bound by it and should draft its own MOU proposal. The deadlines for Board action that the Governor and DOE appear to be imposing are substantively unrealistic and impractical for such a complex consideration with so many unanswerable questions.
Having examined some of the initial proposal and the details and expectations it held has led me to conclude that this is not a well thought out plan, that raises more questions and challenges then it has answers for.
I distributed some of my points of concern to the Governor and DOE and have copies for you that I will distribute. Due to time constraints I will try to focus on only a few of my concerns that I hope you will consider at this time.
I find it particularly harmful and hurtful to the “Southbridge” community, families and children to propose closing Elbert Palmer, one of the true neighborhood schools in walking distance and accessible to this Wilmington community. I hope that this Board’s counter-proposal would support closing that tired old monolith known as Bancroft and refurbish Palmer, Pulaski and Bayard to use for the suggested K-8 reconfiguration.
I also implore this Board to pay heed to the massive costs (which the Governor personally refused to speculate on) in refurbishing or renovating in order to make these consolidations. You should be acutely aware that any promise of funding cannot be guaranteed. In fact I would urge you to recall this Administration’s recently passed budget with concurrence of this current General Assembly cut traditional public school revenues by more than $36 million. Restoring that $36 million in cuts and adding even a small percentage of the proposed renovation costs would be much more beneficial and effective for Wilmington students if allocated to create smaller classroom ratios and hire reading and math specialists.
As I’ve looked at this reform proposal and its details and drawing upon my 11 years of experience as a legislator I am forced to conclude that this is a no-win situation for Christina, this Board and the children of Wilmington. Its predisposition to fail will be used to scapegoat the district and further stifle opportunities for Wilmington students and their families.
Finally I would suggest that this Board consider that traditional public school funding has received reduced funding since 2009 now totaling over $65 million per year. Ask the DOE and Governor:
Who is going to pay for the renovations?
Who is paying for longer school days and school years?
Who is paying for vacation academies?
Who is paying for after-school programs?
And why aren’t Reading Specialists and funding for them part of this plan?
At this point, Kowalko had several questions for Governor Carney as well:
1) If CSD does not approve MOU, more money will be taken from the District further harming prospects of Wilmington students and families. (“If it rejects the plan and fails to come up with an acceptable alternative, the agreement would be terminated immediately, resulting in the loss of any additional financial support for the district”).
2) Bayard/Bancroft are not appropriate buildings for little children even if renovated. Bancroft too old to make usable with renovations.
3) Trauma Training not necessarily (research?) effective but investing/funding 1 to 15 class size ratios would effectively improve the learning environment and outcomes.
4) Palmer became the first equity lawsuit in Delaware when Christina District (at Lowery’s behest) tried to close it 10 years ago.
5) Leaves no “Neighborhood Schools” for city children and in fact may violate the “Neighborhood Schools Legislation”.
6) Bancroft is far away from Palmer and Southbridge children who now walk would be unable to continue that practice.
7) Distinguish more specifically between renovate, refurbish and reconfiguration.
8) Why don’t we do things like “successful” districts? The most successful programs such as in New York and Massachusetts fund “reading specialists” and lower class ratios.
9) When the plan refers to “potentially” establishing “early childhood education” and “centers for students and families learning English” at a vacated Palmer are the planners aware that there are no ESL students at Palmer?
10) Have you considered neighborhood “gangs” being integrated from across Wilmington into the same building?
11) The suggested “Co-leadership” model re: principals and assistant principals belies the reality that these two jobs have never had the same duties and have always had designated responsibilities and functions.
12) “Loan forgiveness stipend” to young and “inexperienced” teachers does not reflect any benefit to already established teachers who have devoted their careers to inner-city education and “Who” is paying for these loans?
13) “Who” is paying for “longer school days/year”?
14) “Who is paying for “vacation academies”?
15) “Who is paying for “after-school programing”?
16) Why aren’t reading specialists part of this plan and therefore WHO IS PAYING FOR “READING SPECIALISTS” SO THAT CHILDREN ACTUALLY LEARN TO READ?
These are all valid questions that deserve answers. One of my biggest questions is why the Delaware Department of Education did not include this in their presentation to the Office of Management and Budget for the Fiscal Year 2019 budget a couple of weeks ago. Where is all this money coming from? The Christina Board of Education will vote on the plan again next Tuesday at their monthly board meeting. Revisions will supposedly go back and forth until February of 2018 which is Governor Carney’s deadline for the decision.
After the proposed memorandum of understanding leaked to the News Journal yesterday, those affiliated with Christina’s Wilmington schools have been scratching their heads. On the chopping block are three city schools. It appears Superintendent Richard Gregg is perfectly okay with these changes that have yet to receive proper stakeholder feedback. It looks like the “Community Conversation” meeting tonight at Stubbs Elementary School will give out a lot of the details. I really hope the communities on both the East and West sides of Wilmington come and say “How dare you” to both the Governor and the district for embarking on a plan that could be approved before funding is even approved, gives no certainties about what happens to students after 8th grade in those schools, and has been planned and schemed behind closed doors long before the public caught wind of it.
I’d heard the rumor. The five Wilmington schools serving Christina students would fold into two. It was only a rumor until today when the News Journal published details of a confidential memorandum of understanding between the district and Governor Carney. Meanwhile, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, which has outlived its usefulness as of late, decided to hold an impromptu meeting while breaking state FOIA open meeting laws.
As per Jessica Bies’ News Journal article:
The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, a state advisory committee formed by then-Gov. Jack Markell to come up with ideas to improve education in the city, was also scheduled to review Carney’s proposal Tuesday night. It did not publicly advertise the meeting in compliance with state law or post the agenda for the meeting until late Monday, after a News Journal reporter called and asked when it would be shared.
As per a source, this WEIC meeting was planned six weeks ago and the Mayor of Wilmington came to speak. A technicality of not posting the agenda in the required seven day window occurred. When Tony Allen arrived at the meeting, he advised the committee of the technicality and that no action would be taken at the meeting, including approving the minutes for the last meeting. While I have seen time and time again in FOIA complaints that a party forgot to post an agenda, it is my belief, even if a meeting is planned and they decide to only hold it for informational purposes, they should delay the meeting for appearances sake. How confidential is this memo if so many people had access to it before the Christina Board of Education even has it? Sounds like Carney and Christina want it to get out. I’ve heard people rambling for years that Christina needs to consolidate some of their schools but the way this happened is shady at best.
If Carney’s office released the document, it doesn’t sound like Superintendent Richard Gregg was too happy about it:
Superintendent Richard Gregg recommended removing the names of schools from the document before it came to the school board for the vote, and there was a discussion about having the governor refrain from using the schools’ names in public.
Who were the three school board members who met with district staff, Carney’s team, and the union representative? Why doesn’t the News Journal name those board members? And where is all the scoop on the Empowerment crap Carney is trying to foist upon the schools? More questions than answers. And the Delaware DOE is going to be the one to implement all these changes? Has Christina lost their ever-loving mind? But this is the part that scares the living hell out of me:
The memorandum says Carney and the state Education Department would ask the General Assembly for additional funding to renovate the schools, as well as provide trauma-informed training to principals and teachers. It also promises funding for a dual-generation education center, as well as “philanthropic monies to support all Wilmington schools,” starting with those in Christina.
Philanthropic monies… and what will they want in return? This is the beginning of the end of public education. Once you get foundations actually funding schools (they already help fund charter schools), these schools are no longer public. They become part of Carney’s “public-private partnerships” where FOIA and open meeting laws go out the window. You heard it here first. Carney is just continuing Markell’s agenda who was following all the corporate education reform crap. At this point, I can no longer refer to Carney as Markell 2.0. He is Carney, through and through. Selling out schools to corporations. This is so deliberate and in your face. He played Christina and their board like a fiddle. This is when we start to see social impact bonds hit Delaware. And Rodel is loving every second of it with their competency-based education and personalized digital learning crap. I won’t go so far as to say Carney is the devil, but he is certainly his willing accomplice and Secretary Bunting is just playing the part of the yes-woman and kissing King Carney’s ring he wears for whichever level of Dante’s Hell he serves. I can see why Carney picked her now. She will do whatever he wants.
When I attended the very first WEIC meeting, I advised them transparency is the glue to whatever they do. While I recognize human error, there is also accountability for recognizing that and taking the appropriate action. Not go ahead and hold the meeting anyway. The only way we can stop people from violating FOIA law is to call them out on it. I have made it my mission to do so for over three years now. I will not hold back on that for any organization that is subject to FOIA law.
I hope Carney locked the General Assembly into funding this hot mess, otherwise it becomes yet another unfunded mandate in Delaware. I’m sure deals have been made behind the scenes. If not, the philanthropic foundations like Rodel and the other vultures waiting to pounce on public education will assuredly send their lobbyists to hound them for the next seven months.
The Christina Board of Education meeting last night was filled with some awesome discussion about what appears in the title of this article. I painstakingly transcribed the part of the meeting with the Superintendent’s report to the Board and the crazy discussion after. Board member John Young was on fire!!!! The topics dealt with Governor Carney’s plans for Christina’s Wilmington schools. There is A LOT of information in here. A ton. From venereal diseases to transparency to possible school closures and more! I have a feeling things are going to look VERY different in Christina’s Wilmington schools a year from now. And for the record, I agree with John Young on EVERYTHING he said! Continue reading