On February 28th, I sent a Freedom of Information Act request to every single Delaware school district and charter school. The ask? Every single employee with an annual salary over $100,000. I based it on that specific number because I know pretty much every single assistant principal and up (with a few exceptions) makes over $100,000. One of the key questions in Delaware education is “Do we have too many administrators?”. This comes up every single time the state budget conversation heats up or a district goes out for a referendum. Continue reading “Prologue: The Big FOIA About Salaries”
As I was combing through Title 14 this evening, I found something astonishing. I know of a Principal that changed a grade for a student. It looks like that Principal broke the law. I believe that Principal is retired now and who knows what the enforceability of this law is. What this means is only the very highest level in a district or charter school can change a teacher’s grade. Even on something as small as homework. The law is below. I have to wonder how much the Delaware Secretary of Education actually gets on this! Continue reading “Only District Superintendents Or Highest Authority In Charter Schools Can Change A Student’s Grade In Delaware”
Recently, a Gateway Lab School board member reached out to the former leader of the Delaware Military Academy, Chuck Baldwin, for potential recommendations for Gateway. This was presented at one of their recent board meetings in public session, therefore, this is a public document. The letter gives certain… well, I’ll let you read it and tell me what you think! I’m pretty sure those with their Delaware military charter history can guess his date error at first glance but I wanted to present the document as is! Continue reading “Ex Delaware Military Academy Leader’s Letter To Gateway Lab School Gives Stunning Insight On Charter Schools”
After months of waiting, I received an email from the Delaware Department of Education that their 2016-2017 Annual Bullying Report was completed and up on their website. While I am unable to take a deep dive into this and compare it to previous years, I did want to get it out there for folks to view. When I asked the DOE last week about the status of the report, they did explain the area that handles the report went through a leadership turnover in the past few months which is understandable for the delay.
It would be my hope that all Delaware schools, be they district or charter, have seen this. I would also hope the Exceptional Children Resources Group, the special education area of the Delaware Department of Education, led by Mary Ann Mieczkowski, circulated this to all our schools. If not, I’ll make sure they get this. And I won’t even charge them! But just in case they haven’t seen this, they may want to read this from top to bottom. Special education is NOT a choice. And you are expected to implement it with fidelity and as per federal law under IDEA. The below document, released by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the United States Department of Education issued guidance about the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on Endrew F v. Douglas County School District.
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?
(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.
(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
Delaware State Representative Sean Matthews submitted House Bill #282 for pre-filing yesterday which would give $25 to each student for field trips in designated low-income schools across the state.
Much of what makes a student successful in school is the background knowledge and outside experiences that a student gets from going on trips. Students that go on trips to museums, historical sites and parks are able to acquire knowledge and life experiences that help them do better in school. Field trips are predominately paid for by parents, so students from families of more financial means are typically able to go on more and better field trips.
This bill will allow schools with a 50% or greater low-income student population to receive financial support to plan and run educational field trips. The identified schools (see list below…schools are in all 3 counties) would get $25/student and could use that money to plan field trip/s. The money could be combined with private funding (parents, PTA, grants, etc.) in any manner the school sees fit to maximize its use. Please note that most schools already have policies and procedures to ensure that field trips are educational in nature.
We’ve spent years trying to “fix” struggling schools with programs and money solely within the four walls of a school. Let’s try something new and get students from schools with large low-income populations out of the building on high quality field trips. I believe we will see real and lasting results. Note: The approximate cost to fund this bill Statewide based on the most recent data on low-income students, is $500,000.
Since this bill comes with a fiscal note, I would expect some resistance to it, especially coming from the Republican side. As I see no sponsorship from either the Senate or House Republicans, it is hard to tell what will happen with this. With that being said, I strongly support this bill. It is a definitive and urgent need for high-need students. And yes, low-income and poverty is very much a high need. We have a large amount of students this would benefit which could give tangible and immediate results in their education. Frankly, I’m disappointed no Republicans signed on as some of them represent districts where some of the below schools reside in. I can think of a lot of wasteful spending in this state and this would NOT be one of them!
This is not limited to traditional school districts but also charter schools that qualify. Please support this legislation!
The list of schools:
Elementary Schools: East Dover, South Dover, Booker T. Washington, Fairview, Towne Point, Lake Forest, North Laurel, Dunbar, Banneker, Mispillion, Blades, Frederick Douglas, Harlan, Highlands, Lewis Dual Language, Shortlidge, Baltz, Richardson Park, Mote, Warner, Brookside, Oberle, Bancroft, Elbert-Palmer, Pulaski, Stubbs, Eisenberg, Academy of Dover, East Side Charter, Thomas Edison Charter, Charter School of New Castle, Kuumba Academy, and Academia Antonia Alonso.
Middle Schools: Central Middle, Skyline, Stanton, Bayard, and McCullough
High Schools: Pyle Academy & Great Oaks
ILC Schools: Kent Elementary ILC & Kent County Alternative
Special Schools: First State School, Douglass School, & Carver Center
To read the full bill, please see below:
This is a definite. It IS going to happen. A Delaware charter school will be going under formal review, most likely in 2018. Why? A multitude of reasons. While I’m not ready to reveal which one at this point in time, you will know it when you see it. You may think you know which one, but you could be wrong.
There haven’t been any formal reviews since the 2015-2016 school year when both Delaware MET and Delaware STEM Academy went under the Delaware DOE knife. Neither came out alive when it was all said and done. Since then, the Charter School Office at the Delaware DOE has come under new leadership with Denise Stouffer. From what I understand, there are circumstances going on at this charter school that can no longer be ignored. Will this charter school come out alive? Smart money says nope unless something radical changes very soon.
Put your guessing caps on.
Which districts and charters saw big jumps with student enrollment? Which went down? What is the state of special education in Delaware? What key demographic is rising at a fast rate which contributes significantly to the budget woes in our state? Which charter school, based on their current enrollment, should no longer be considered financially viable and should be shut down? What is the fastest-growing sub-groups in Delaware? And which cherry-picking charters continue to not serve certain populations? Continue reading “Enrollment Count Report for 2017-2018 & Demographic Information For Districts & Charters: The Rise, The Surge, & The Cherry-Picking!”
Even though I’ve done my fair share of beating up on the Delaware Department of Education, I felt they were transparent in a few ways. Most specifically on their website. But now I am finding that transparency is evaporating fast. There are three examples of this, most of which would not be caught by most people. For a blogger like myself, those three areas contained a lot of information.
The first is their special education section. For years I would look at their Due Process Hearing and Administrative Complaint decisions. Each report would name the specific school district or charter school. Since last Spring, they stopped doing that. Now it just says “______ school district” or _____ charter school”. What is the big deal? Don’t parents of students with disabilities have a right to know what kind of special education complaints are happening at certain schools?
In looking at the above two screenshots from the DOE website, a pattern begins to form. Last school year, there were three administrative complaints against charter schools in Delaware. None of them are named. I don’t need to be a forensic scientist to figure this one out.
The second area involves Department of Education personnel. As long as I can remember, the Delaware State Board of Education would list changes to DOE personnel on their website as part of their agenda for each meeting. That stopped a few months ago. I did reach out to Donna Johnson, Executive Director of the State Board of Education. She said the State Board does not control personnel at the DOE and they were the only state agency that listed personnel changes. So it was a matter of consistency. I get that, but it was also what made the DOE stand out above those other state agencies. Not to belittle other state agencies, but the DOE is an important one and citizens have a right to know who is leaving or who is hired there.
The third area, which absolutely no one in their right mind would find is a bit tricky. It involves their search engine. I learned a few years ago that if you type “PDF” in their search bar it will bring up all PDF documents. You can even tweak it so the results come up with the most recent documents. I relied on this to see what was going on at the DOE. The last PDF document that comes up on the search of most recent is from 5/2/2017. I highly doubt the DOE is not creating PDF documents anymore. I know that is the case because I’ve seen them. But they somehow found a way to eliminate it from their search bar. Maybe they figured out some crazed blogger from a specific IP address was always using it and disabled it.
It doesn’t shock me that these transparency issues coincide with the new Carney administration. I, as well as others, have written about a continual lack of transparency coming from the state since Governor John Carney took office. I guess the people no longer have a right to know.
Delaware’s next General Election is still over a year away, but a surprise filing with the Department of Elections today made it very interesting. Kathleen Davies, the former Chief Administrative Auditor for State Auditor Thomas Wagner, is running for the elected position in 2018 as an Independent. To say this isn’t huge news would be an understatement. While Davies cannot publicly talk about why she was run out of the office in the Spring of 2016, the fact she is running for the State Auditor title shows there was definitely some funny business with her ouster.
I wrote extensively about the situations around her removal last year. I always knew there was more to it. The News Journal wrote a story involving Ann Visali and travel expenses that never made a lick of sense.
Tom Wagner, who has held the position of State Auditor for the last three decades, has not announced his intention to run again. A couple of weeks ago, former State Rep. Dennis Williams announced he would run but nothing has been heard about that since.
I know, without a moment of hesitation, that Kathleen Davies will get my vote on Election Day in 2018. Without a doubt in my mind. She is easily the most qualified and her resume involving work with state audit agencies goes beyond Delaware, to Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I firmly believe Davies will one day be vindicated for the horrible treatment she received in the Spring of 2016. But even better, it is my fervent hope she will see that vindication while holding the office of State Auditor.
Change is needed in the Auditor’s office. That change was there when Davies held the title of Senior Audit Manager. She was the first to conduct audit investigations against Delaware charter schools. From Delaware Military Academy, to Academy of Dover, Family Foundations Academy, and Providence Creek Academy. The last big audit she had a major role in was a September 30th Count audit inspection which found some pretty glaring errors with a few charters. That report was pulled from the State Auditor website the same time Davies was placed on administrative leave. Wagner released a new report a few months later but the actual procedures from the first audit were not used in the second report.
I can imagine some in the Delaware education world will begin rolling up their sleeves when they hear this news. My suggestion to the people of Delaware: ignore them. If you want an auditor who will serve that office above and beyond and believes in their work 100%, that person is Davies.
Kathleen Davies for Delaware State Auditor 2018!!!!!
The school year is in full swing and there is lots going on!
For starters, a Charlton School special needs teacher was arrested for sexual texts to a 17-year-old student according to WDEL.
Sources have said several board members at Thomas Edison Charter School resigned last week in response to the actions of Board President Ronald Pinkett. I was not given names or an exact number.
Central Middle School in the Capital School District are in the process of hiring two constables for the school. Dover High School started this program last year with success. Capital got the idea from Indian River School District who has, I believe, 16 constables throughout their schools. Last night, the school held a parent q & a for interested parents and will be holding another one when they have hired the two constables.
The September 30th Unit Count took place last Friday. The results should be released at some point in November. Expect numbers and data crunching here at Exceptional Delaware.
According to the Cape Gazette, several students from Cape Henlopen High School participated in public service announcements for safe driving: On October 4, 2017 several of our Cape Henlopen High School juniors were selected by the Driver’s Education Department, to participate in recording radio PSA’s promoting teen safety while driving. iHeart Radio stations will be playing the PSA’s throughout Sussex county on the radio and online. Students who were selected were also part of a team who competed at the Delaware Drivers Ed Competition. The competition took place at Dover International Speedway at the end of last school year.
Three Delaware schools won the Blue Ribbon Award this year. No charters. Olive B. Loss Elementary School, Seaford Central Elementary School (Seaford), and East Millsboro Elementary School (Indian River) all won the federal designation this year. This is the first time since I’ve been blogging that a Delaware charter or private school was not in the list of the winners.
The Delaware Department of Education is holding “community conversations” to tweak their school report cards. Five meetings have been scheduled: Monday October 9th from 6-8pm at Beacon Middle School in the cafeteria (Cape Henlopen School District), Thursday October 12th from 6-8pm at Warner Elementary School in the library (Red Clay Consolidated School District), Wednesday October 18th from 6-8pm at Dover High School in the cafeteria (Capital School District), Monday October 23rd from 6pm-8pm at MOT Charter High School in the cafeteria, and Tuesday October 24th from 6pm-8pm at the Laurel Middle School in the cafeteria (Laurel School District). The Delaware DOE is asking for participants to RSVP here.
Another committee, The Anti-Discrimination Guidance Team will hold their last Community Conversation tomorrow night (October 5th) at Sussex Central High School from 6:30-8:00pm. I have been in the midst of a move recently so I haven’t been able to fully delve into this committee. But you can find information on the Draft Policy, Draft Regulations, and a survey from the DOE here. I hadn’t looked at the membership of this Guidance Team until just now. How ironic that Greg Meece from Newark Charter School is on this.
Capital School District will be holding their Super Senator Day at Dover High School from 10am-2pm.
The month of October is Disability History and Awareness Month in Delaware. As per the Indian River Facebook page, October is Disability History and Awareness Month in Delaware. This official observance began in 2009 when members and staff of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens encouraged Rep. Quinton Johnson and Sen. Bethany Hall-Long to sponsor House Concurrent Resolution 19. The purpose was to encourage schools to include information in their lessons and sponsor activities to promote the accomplishments of individuals with disabilities throughout history. The goal is to increase awareness and the acceptance of students with various disabilities.
On Colonial School District’s Facebook page, they announced the following: Staff and students were recognized today by DuPont for the amazing agricultural work being done at William Penn High School. Representatives from DuPont, members from State Legislature and Senate, USDA and members from the community celebrated the efforts of WPHS agriculture and science students and teachers in their work with pollination. Several staff and students were also awarded with grants to help further their education to continue the success at William Penn. In honor of her tireless efforts in making William Penn the great school that it is, a wildflower meadow was named in honor of Ag Teacher Kate Pickard. Thanks to DuPont and our community for helping our kids and give them opportunities to grow.
Appoquinimink is providing dinner for interested parents of students with special needs at the Marion Proffitt Training Center. I would RSVP fast though! Other events through their Parent Council is included in the below picture!
State Senator Margaret Rose-Henry from the 2nd Senate District in Wilmington announced she will not be seeking reelection in 2018. This follows State Senator Brian Bushweller’s similar announcement in August.
Campus Community School in Dover had a cool announcement yesterday: Campus Community School is in the news again!!! This year, we have partnered with Northnode Counseling and Jennifer August, a board certified Art Therapist, to provide this service to our students. Art therapy provides students with an outlet and allows them to express themselves through their artwork.
Shields Elementary School students in the Cape Henlopen School District performed a worthy cause for hurricane victims as per the district’s Facebook page from September 22nd: This week Shields Elementary School teamed up with Lewes Fire Company, and collected items to send to Florida and Texas to help families affected by Hurricane Harvey and Irma. The students spent part of their morning “stuffing the bus” full of the donations. Thank you to the students, staff, parents, and community members who donated and made our “Stuff the Bus” event a success! Way to go Shields students!
A friendly reminder that all Delaware public schools are closed on Friday due to an in-service professional development day. While the children play, the teachers pay! Just kidding (I hope)!
Academia Antonia Alonso will be holding their Fall Festival on October 22nd.
Glasgow High School in the Christina School District will hold their 8th Annual College Fair on October 26th.
Red Clay Consolidated School District will be holding their 11th Annual Family Resource Fair on November 4th at John Dickinson High School from 10am-1pm.
Next week is National School Lunch Week, from October 9th-13th. I’m not sure what that means. How do you celebrate school lunches? Free Chik-Fil-A or Panera? That would be something to celebrate! (No disrespect to the thousands of school cafeteria workers in our fine state)
This week, Positive Outcomes Charter School is holding their Spirit Week.
I don’t think Governor Carney likes me too much today.
I don’t care.
If you have any school or district events you would like to share, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with details. Or if you want to share something controversial, feel free to do the same. Charters are welcome to share as well despite my writing stuff about them all the time. I write about district stuff too but that gets lost in the noise sometimes. Trying to make this blog less bad and actually share some of the good stuff going on in our schools. Once again, if you want to promote any type of standardized test score enjoyment, please don’t. I will opt right out of writing about that kind of nonsense!
The Head of School for Delaware Design-Lab High School, Joseph Mock, resigned after holding the position for less than six months. I saw no notification on their website or social media pages. This happened the same day Dr. Salome Thomas-EL was ousted from Thomas Edison Charter School.
Delaware Design-Lab has faced low enrollment woes since before they opened. Further complicating matters is the ongoing legal matter with the former Head of School, Christina Alvarez. They even have a new website. They do have a board meeting tomorrow night. They held an emergency session on September 13th to discuss “personnel and contract negotiations”.
Not much information to report, but this DID happen. That I can say with 100% certainty.
What in the world is going on with our charter schools in Delaware? It is not good for any school’s stability to play musical chairs with their leaders. It certainly isn’t good for students! I would think the school would make an announcement somewhere. At the very least, I hope parents received an email from the school. Or perhaps I am breaking this news to the public for the first time…
All the Design-Lab schools run out of Philadelphia. This is the first (and only to date) Design-Lab school in Delaware.
It is time the people spoke up and emailed Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting!
The match tax saga continues! On August 4th, a bunch of Delaware legislators sent Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting a letter regarding the proposed plan for the match tax. Bunting’s response shows no sign of bending from the original plan. While Bunting believes this is a win-win for districts based on other exclusions to the local funding formula, only one district seems to make a windfall from them. And believe it or not, that district is Christina.
Below are the letter sent to legislators from Bunting, the new “procedure” for charter and choice payments, and a breakdown of the changes and how they financially impact the districts.
For Red Clay, they are taking a $124,000 loss based on this plan. I would love to know what the ten “newly approved categories” are for exclusions on the charter bill. It looks like the districts that are getting the biggest hits are Capital, Red Clay, and Smyrna. While some may laugh at those figures, remember, that could be an extra teacher. Or a paraprofessional. In your child’s class. Notice how Bunting did not provide a summary of how MUCH the charters are going to get from this. Add in their should be illegal charter school transportation slush fund, and it adds up to a lot of money! Cause that first number of $828,465.11? That will more than double in two years. So all those schools that currently show a surplus of funds will see that evaporate. Meanwhile, the charters will just get more and more money.
This is how the Delaware DOE works. They try to make crap look like gold. They compare things that aren’t always related and say “Look, it isn’t as bad as you thought!” They do the same thing with standardized test scores. I fail to see Bunting’s justification for doing this with the match tax. If you agree, please email her at email@example.com and let her know you do not support this match tax scheme. As pretty as that picture may look, it will be uglier next year and the year after when those first numbers go deeper in the red. The plan is to reduce the match tax exclusion to nothing by the 2019-2020 school year. Bunting has until September 1st to make a final decision on this. Let’s make some noise!
Some issues I see with the timetable on this stem around the budgetary process that goes down each year. School districts and charters are subject to the final passage of the budget bill. This doesn’t typically happen until June 30th/July 1st each year. At that point, all the business managers have to figure out what it all means. That is not an easy task, whether it is a district or charter. So for the DOE to say they want any meetings scheduled with them by June 15th is ludicrous in my opinion. They should wait until all the business managers have time to see what the final budget does to their own budget first.
At the Christina School District Board of Education meeting two weeks ago, Chief Financial Officer Robert Silber gave insight to a very interesting meeting at the Delaware Department of Education concerning the recent decision to give Delaware charter schools a portion of match tax funds through the local funding formula. Silber’s description of Delaware Secretary Education Dr. Susan Bunting’s reaction during this meeting was surprising.
The memo that they also sent to districts said that due to the uncertainties associated with the budget, we’re holding off on a determination of match dollars until legislators made a determination around how the proposed reductions were going to occur. They didn’t want, as they expressed it to us, they didn’t want to make a decision in advance that may have been different based upon the budget (state) for this year since there were a lot of talk legislatively around match tax. The Department then came out with a position statement that said they believe match taxes are operating expenses and as an operating expense should be included. District business managers then turned as a group and said to the Department, as part of the process, that we would like to have a meeting to discuss that. That meeting occurred last Thursday (August 3rd) and I would say that the Secretary and a member of her staff were there, listening. But there was no decision rendered at that meeting and we have not seen anything since that point in time to know whether or not they listened to our concerns. One of the concerns that we expressed, and is probably the easiest one for me to grasp around, is that when you take a look at the various match components that exist, one of those matches is for reading resources. Reading resource teachers are, by the definition of the dollars enabling legislation to begin with, was very specifically targeted to elementary schools. So we posed the question to the Secretary, once these dollars go into the formula, those same dollars are going to a high school. It doesn’t make logical sense and we asked that be considered. She’s considering it.
Come on Dr. Bunting! As someone who comes from a traditional school district, you know how this stuff works. Charters lobby for more money, whether it is justified or not. Just because they want it doesn’t mean it is right. I get that everyone wants a piece of the funding pie but sometimes the taste isn’t so palatable. Don’t give in to this Bunting! We live in a state where charters are able to keep their excess transportation funds. It is VERY hypocritical for the Department of Education to give in to the charters while that anomaly exists. We need a Secretary who will stand up to these freakish money requests from the charters and do what is right! We need a home run here, not a bunt!
Led by Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams, a total of thirteen Delaware legislators wrote a letter to Delaware Secretary of Education about the recently announced match tax giveaway to Delaware charter schools. I wholeheartedly agree. FY2018 budgets have already been approved by local school boards, tax warrants have gone out to the three counties, and districts are still hurting from the budget cuts when Governor Carney signed the budget on July 3rd. I hope Secretary Bunting ends this ridiculous farce. Watch the charters try to sue the state if Bunting decides to drop it because THEY based their budgets on it. Sometimes I just want to scream at the money grabs going on in Delaware…
This is exactly why I don’t trust the Delaware Department of Education. Taking a nod from the Christina School District settlement with 15 charter schools last year, the Department has decided to let charters get match tax funds in a phased-out plan for district exclusions. Continue reading “Delaware DOE Screws Over Districts By Allowing Match Tax Funds To Go To Charters”
That was weird. Today, Delawareonline published an opinion piece by Salome Thomas-El, the leader of Thomas Edison Charter School and three other people. The big problem is Thomas-El didn’t write any such letter. Did the other three?
The letter was a critique against newly christened Delaware State Education Association President Mike Matthews. With Mike’s Facebook comments taken completely out of context in relation to Governor Carney’s veto of HS1 for House Bill #85, the five-mile radius bill, the piece made it seem like Matthews is anti-charter and wants them all to close. But the true mystery is the addition of Thomas-El as a writer. I posted a comment on their Facebook page to which Thomas-El just responded with this:
Bam! They didn’t wait a full two weeks for Matthews to break in to his new role. But who exactly wrote this letter? If I were Thomas-El, I would be pretty ticked off that he was given top billing in a letter he never even wrote. Not sure how a mistake like that can just happen. That’s pretty major. This is an odd group to begin with, but when one them is fake, that is serious cause for concern. Did Erica Dorsett, Daniel Walker and Cyntiche Deba also contribute to this letter? I’m at the State Board of Education meeting and Walker is sitting a few seats in front of me. I’ll ask him during the next break.
It was one of those blink and you miss it moments. In the midst of budget negotiations in the early hours of July 1st, the Delaware House of Representatives voted again on House Concurrent Resolution #39 after Senator Colin Bonini added an amendment in the Senate. The bill passed the Senate but because the amendment was added, the House had to vote again.
Bonini’s amendment removed charter schools from being a part of any district consolidation discussion. When the bill came back to the House, State Rep. Kim Williams added another amendment which would remove the Delaware Charter Schools Network from membership on the district consolidation task force. It was a logical amendment. If charters didn’t want to be a part of the discussion, why would they want membership? The amendment barely passed with 21 yes and 20 no. The sole Republican yes vote came from State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman. Democrats who voted against it were Earl Jaques, Melanie Smith, Larry Mitchell, Quinton Johnson and Pete Schwartzkopf. None of those Dem votes really surprise me. Some who voted yes surprised me, but I have seen similar votes with charter related bills this year so perhaps there could be a shift in thinking on that front.
The Delaware Department of Education is the support agency for this task force. While no meetings have been scheduled at this point, the final report is due to the General Assembly by January 30th, 2018. I expect this task force will get going at some point later this summer.
House Concurrent Resolution passed the Delaware Senate a short time ago with amendment by Delaware Senator to take charter schools out of the district consolidation task force’s discussion. A prior amendment in the House from State Rep. Earl Jaques included charter schools in the task force discussion. Oddly enough, Senator Bonini’s amendment didn’t remove a representative from the Delaware Charter Schools Network from the task force.
Senator David Sokola said this bill did not have to be heard in committee but felt it was an important enough topic to have that voice.
Senator Bryan Townsend expressed hope that charters would be a part of the task force’s review. He said the intent of the legislation is a coordinated school system. He recognized Delaware’s unique education system and understood the ideological discussion of Senator Colin Bonini but still felt all Delaware public schools should be part of that system.
Senator Bonini’s amendment passed with 12 yes, 8 no, and 1 absent. For the concurrent resolution, it passed with 17 yes, 3 no, and 1 absent. I imagine it will come back to the House tonight.
Senator Townsend’s Senate Concurrent Resolution #39, requesting an advisory opinion from the Justices of the Delaware Supreme Court on the efficiency of Delaware’s public school system, was defeated in the Delaware Senate with 9 yes, 10 no, 1 not voting, and 1 absent. House Bill #142, dealing with training for School Resource Officers in situations dealing with students with disabilities, passed the Senate with 20 yes and 1 no. The Kim Williams sponsored bill goes to Governor Carney for signature.