Can-Kicker Jack Letter Is NOT A Guarantee Of Funding

On June 29th, Delaware Governor Jack Markell wrote a letter to State Representatives Charles Potter and Stephanie Bolden and State Senator Margaret-Rose Henry.  In the letter he expressed his regret at not being able to “fully support” the funding for the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting plan and how he expects to appropriate $7.5 million in his recommended FY2018 budget in January, 2017.  Later in the letter he states he will appropriate the funding in his recommended budget.  Back in September of 2014, Markell issued an Executive Order which created the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee which issued recommendations that became WEIC.  By doing so, through Executive Order, that should have been his FULL support.  Instead, he kicked the can down the road because he wasn’t able to give this his “full support”.

I’ve always wondered what the deal was with this.  It happened as Christina and Red Clay were calling for the DOE’s throat over the priority schools.  Constituents were pissed and the above-mentioned legislators, along with others, pleaded with Governor Markell to do something.  I firmly believe the entire WEIC redistricting plan was the official reaction to the priority schools.  But did Jack bite off more than he could chew with this?  By essentially creating all of this, it brought city advocates for under-served, under-funded, and high-needs city children to the forefront of Delaware education conversation.  It quickly became clear that much more was needed than the state would be able to deliver.  In hindsight though, it did force us as a state to renew conversations about race, education, funding, economic class, discrimination, and so much more.  Before the budget vote, State Rep. Stephanie Bolden explained how we are all neighbors in Delaware and what happens in Wilmington has a trickle-down effect to the rest of the state.  The opposite could be said though.  What doesn’t happen downstate affects the entire state.  It is my hope that as WEIC uses their extra year of planning that they add Kent and Sussex County voices to these essential conversations.

I don’t trust Markell to keep his word.  By the time he submits this budget, his time as Governor is done.  He will be sailing off to his next destination (for which I will be happy unless it lands him at the US DOE).  But even if he does, that is no guarantee that 1) the money will be there in a year, 2) the Joint Finance Committee will appropriate it, or 3) The General Assembly will approve it in the budget bill for FY2018.  This is not, by far, a done deal.

markell7.5millionpromise

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