Christina Paying Vendor To Research School Start Times. District Could Do This For Free With A Google Search…

In the world of education, someone is always willing to make a buck. In the Christina School District, Hanover Research is the latest vendor to say cha-ching when the district gets an idea.

On Thursday, the district released a press release announcing they are looking into changing the start time for their schools. In Delaware, Superintendents and district administrators get paid a ton of money. Why are we paying outside vendors to do the work they should obviously be doing themselves? It is just cash in the trash!  This is a district facing mold issues and a charter school lawsuit on top of dwindling funds and resources.  Their board passed a resolution for the district to look at this topic, but that doesn’t translate to pay someone else to do it.  We all know their vendor is going to do the same thing anyone else could do: a Google search.  And then they will come up with a very pretty report.  I know Acting Superintendent Bob Andrzejewski has his eye on the Delaware Secretary of Education slot, but is this the kind of continuing crap we could expect from his “ascendancy”: more meaningless contracts and vendors?  Here is the press release:

Christina Explores Changing School Start Times
Impact of early/late start times on student learning will be considered

Wilmington, DE – The Christina School District is exploring the issue of school start times and their impact on student learning, with a goal of determining if changing start times in its secondary schools could increase student achievement. The main focus is on middle and high school students and the impact of early morning start times on adolescents’ learning. The Christina Board of Education passed a resolution in May calling for the Superintendent to identify and provide a list of practices in school systems that start middle and/or high school after 8:00 a.m. Christina middle and high school students currently start school at 7:05 a.m.

The District will be working with research firm Hanover Research to determine how school districts who have adjusted their start times have dealt with issues such as communication, scheduling, transportation, sports, and after-school activities. The District is also engaging staff, parents, students, and the community through an online survey asking for feedback on how school start times may affect student success.

The Christina School District School Start Times Survey is available at the following link: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/ 3063051/e2158fc28598

The survey will be live until the end of November, and additional research and analysis will be gathered in the coming weeks.

Wendy Lapham, Public Information Officer
Christina School District

600 N. Lombard St.

Wilmington, DE 19801

Delaware DOE’s Out Of Control Spending Spree In July

The Delaware Department of Education is a cash-cow bonanza for education reform companies! Delaware Online Checkbook came out with the July 2015 numbers on the 15th, and the Delaware Department of Education looks like they don’t have any controls on their spending.  All told, they spent $13,103,296.36 for the month of July.  This is not unusual, but it’s WHAT they are spending the money on.  A lot of these are standard services, food for schools, salaries, operational costs and so on.  But the amounts they are spending on outside consultants and vendors is very high.  I went through, one by one, and looked into each company.  Some of them I was unable to figure out what kind of service they could be providing for the DOE.  The first figure is the amount DOE sent payment to in July 2015.  Then I went through and figured out how much the DOE spent with these companies and consultants over the past five fiscal years, from 2011-2015.  Delaware Online Checkbook only goes back to 2011, so the amounts could be higher in some cases…

Achievement Network Ltd. (helps schools “boost” student learning): $17,500, previous five fiscal years (hard to tell, many companies with words “achieve” in them, mostly providing “material” to school districts): $0.00

American Institutes for Research  (assessment vendor for Smarter Balanced Assessment, was also vendor for DCAS):  $1,933,989, previous five years: $36,652,681.87, it is hard to say what the budgeted amount is for the contracts with this “non-profit” because the DOE doesn’t list the awarded contracts anywhere!

Amplify Education Inc.  (previously Wireless Generation Inc., built data longitudinal system for DOE, provides “education material” aka Common Core for DE schools): $60,115.00, previous five fiscal years (including Wireless Generation): $10,461,101.00, as contracted vendor w/DOE under Amplify from 9/25/14-6/30/15: $725,980.00, actual money spent: $1,947,733.00, money spent over agreed-upon contract amount: $1,221,753.00

Department of Education (Indirect Cost, DOE claimed to the Joint Finance Committee and the General Assembly these are salary costs stemming from Race To The Top): $55,322.41, previous five fiscal years: $1,069,287.66

Derek J. Nino (Consultant w/Relay Graduate School): $9,940.00, previous five fiscal years: $0.00

Double Line Inc. (education data management): $30,126.75, previous five fiscal years: $88.042.25

Education First Consulting (just another corporate education reform company to help “fix” education): $12,000, previous five fiscal years: $349,423.45

ESP Solutions Group (another education data company): $15,830, previous five fiscal years: $2,395,932.50

Evergreen Evaluation & Consulting (evaluation education data): $3,900.00, previous five fiscal years: $192,200.00

Federal Education Group PLLC (help clients understand Federal education rules) $14,975.00, previous five fiscal years: $136,775.00

Greatschools (online school search website): $15,000, previous five fiscal years: $1,090,749.50

Hendy Avenue Consulting LLC (teacher evaluation company): $21,950.00, previous five fiscal years: $0.00

iAssessment (help clients develop iPad programs for students): $49,999.00, previous five fiscal years: $229,771.30

KSA Plus Communications Inc. (an “improving schools” communication company): $16,105.00, previous five fiscal years: $52,261.00

Marshall Consulting Company (not sure, many companies w/same name): $8,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $0.00

MBO Partners (a consultant “head-hunter” company):  $7,500.00, previous five fiscal years: $0.00

MH Miles Company CPA PC (do accounting and consulting services): $16,700.00, previous five fiscal years: $229,150.00

Middlebury Interactive Languages (digital language learning company): $26,146.00, previous five fiscal years: $646,406.50

Myriam Met (consultant for foreign languages): $14,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $51,900.00

National Louis University (offers services for “reaching students” and “strengthening teachers”, contract w/DOE for “early learning” online professional development for educators): $7,700.08, previous five fiscal years: $656,630.59, contracted amount through 12/15: $714,978.10

NCS Pearson Inc. (yes, it is THAT Pearson): $19,000.00, previous five fiscal years for DOE: $3,648,335.65, for all of Delaware: $8,057,105.63

New Teacher Center (another making great students by “accelerating the effectiveness of new teachers and leaders” company): $29,962.00, previous five fiscal years: $158,425.00

Nicole Klues (a “blended learning” or “personalized learning” consultant): $9,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $34,500.00

Partnership To Advance Learning (a Microsoft “partnership” w/Lamar University, more digital language stuff): $26,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $48,000.00

Piper Riddle (independent consultant to help teachers with Common Core):  $4,080.00, previous five fiscal years: $0.00

Rand Corporation (contractor for Delaware STARS program): $52,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $1,535,681.58, contracted amount until 12/15: $1,900,000.00

Research In Action Inc. (contractor for DPAS-II evaluation): $6,402.45, previous five fiscal years: $1,712,902.44

Richard Colvin (contractor for Delaware DOE communications strategies): $18,240.00, previous five fiscal years (2015 only): $136,880.00

Rodel Charitable Foundation-DE (no contract w/them right now):  $133,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $387,454.60

Ronald Berry (recruitment manager for DE Talent Cooperative): $14,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $57,540.00

Schoology Inc. (“learning management” system, currently in many DE schools): $264,588.48, previous five fiscal years: $0.00 (many school districts use them)

Teach For America (fast-track teacher prep program): $3,634.92, previous five fiscal years: $799,389.85

Teaching Strategies LLC (early childhood “support for active learning”): $112,508.00, previous five fiscal years: $677,662.29

The Hanover Research Council LLC (does consultancy work regarding grants): $33,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $30,000.00

The New Teacher Project Inc. (another “great” teacher training company):  $20,000.00, past five fiscal years: $465,646.65

Thomas Sauer (consultant on World Language Immersion for DOE):  $6,000.00, past five fiscal years: $16,000.00

U.S. Education Delivery Institute (Dr. Gray on DE State Board of Education sits on the board of this company that helps education leaders work “smarter”): $30,293.25, past five fiscal years: $290,342.00

University of Delaware (not sure what the exact nature of work is, DOE has numerous projects going on with them): $545,081.01, not doing previous years because it is next to impossible to get this one right.

University of Wisconsin-Madison (this one was a bit tricky, but the consultant is actually a company called Education Analytics, usual education reform company who will “help”): $110,492.00, past five fiscal years including Education Analytics: $1,004,462.00

If you add up all the funds spent for these companies, consultants, and “non-profits”, the grand total just for July 2015 is $3,195,999.34.  What I find very interesting is the amounts going to iAssessment.  The DOE has no contract with this company, but the threshold for contract requirements is $50,000 in a fiscal year.  For the past two years, the DOE has spent exactly $49,999.00 in each year to avoid having to sign a contract.  And what has Rodel been doing for the DOE that would warrant a $133,000.00 check going out to them?  I haven’t seen ANY contract with them.  As money pours out of the DOE like a leaking pipe, with NO accountability or controls in place, how can the DOE judge school districts and charters on their own spending when they can’t even control themselves?

One thing is for sure, the DOE will certainly be focusing on the “World Immersion” program and personalized learning in the future.  They are spending a large portion of funds on consultants to get more information on this.  Why don’t they just use Google like I do to get information?  It’s free and it’s probably more reliable!

Even more curious is the fact that NO funds have gone out to Data Recognition Corporation, ever!  This is the scoring vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  At the Delaware PTA Kent County Parent Town Hall on opt-out, a representative from the Delaware State Board of Education specifically said this was the vendor for scoring the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  We know the DOE has the results, and testing ended for some schools in March/early April, so why aren’t we paying this company?  Or is it rolled into the contract with American Institutes for Research? The DOE actually confirmed this company is the hand scorer in this link:

Click to access Mar%202015%20Newsletter.pdf

There are many other companies and consultants the DOE works with.  This is just a snapshot of one month’s spending by the runaway train called DOE money.  Will the legislators start to reign them in?  They need to because when school districts such as Christina are literally starving for funds and the DOE drops $3 million in one month for a lot of unnecessary spending, we have to wonder what this is all for.