Delaware Education Roundup October Edition

There are always gems to be found when you comb through district and charter board minutes, agendas, and websites.  I did that last night and found a ton of stuff!  Instead of coming out with a dozen or more articles about it, I thought I would just combine all of it one fell swoop!  There is A LOT of material in here so dig in! Continue reading

Breaking: State Board of Education Not Released From Sunset Committee

I don’t have all the details yet, but the Delaware State Board of Education is being held for another year in the Delaware Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee.  There are several areas of concern the committee still has with the State Board of Education.  I also heard someone from the State Board of Education named John Marinucci as the State Board’s contact person for all Delaware school boards.  Marinucci is the Executive Director of the Delaware School Boards Association.  Only 15 out of the 19 school districts in Delaware belong to that organization.  None of the Delaware charter schools do either.  So how could Marinucci possibly represent all the school boards to the State Board of Education?  Anyone who has been around the State Board of Education knows who acts as a liaison between Delaware charter school boards and them- Kendall Massett, the Executive Director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network.

As soon as I know more, I will update this article.  I heard this on the fly from several people while I was down at Legislative Hall today.  Actually, I heard a lot of things down there today!  All I can say is get ready for an absolutely crazy time from now until June 30th (July 1st for those who know how things work in Dover).  If you think the conversation is heated now, strap your seatbelt on and get ready for an insane ride until the end of the legislative session!

Will Executive Director Donna Johnson and the State Board of Education meet the requirements to get out of Sunset review?  I guess we have to wait until next year!  But the fact they are being held over until then means they did not satisfy the committee.  Meanwhile, long-time State Board of Education receptionist Danielle Moore is retiring at the end of June.  I’ve seen Danielle probably hundreds of times between the Townsend Building and Legislative Hall.  She is an awesome lady and is always courteous and genuine.  Best of luck on your future endeavors Danielle!

IRS Revoked Delaware School Boards Association’s Non-Profit Status Six Years Ago, No Returns Filed In Nine Years

Wow!  The Delaware School Boards Association had their 501c3 status revoked by the Internal Revenue Service over five years ago.  The IRS doesn’t do that unless a non-profit corporation hasn’t filed a tax return for three consecutive years.  So how is it this non-profit which represents school boards across Delaware is allowed to even operate?  I know they charge a hefty amount for school boards to join their association, but at this time the Delaware Online Checkbook is down until the 19th.  I’ve seen five figure amounts going from school districts to this non-non-profit for yearly membership.

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While John Marinucci is new to the role of Executive Director, I have to assume he would know about this. But if they don’t file tax returns, what are they doing with their money?  I heard other news regarding DSBA recently as well.  They are asking member school boards to pitch in extra to pay for Indian River’s membership in DSBA due to their financial hardships.  How nice…

Apparently, I’m not the first to discover this information but it doesn’t appear this non-profit cared about the exposure since they haven’t rectified the situation.  The IRS website has no information about the organization receiving a reinstatement of their 501c3 status…

RIP Sue Francis, Former Delaware School Boards Association Executive Director

I just found out Sue Francis passed away in July.  She was the Executive Director of the Delaware School Boards Assocation from 1999 to 2016.  HShe retired earlier this year and was replaced by John Marinucci.  You can read her obituary here.

I met Sue a few times, usually at State Board of Education meetings.  She was always kind to me.  I remember her telling me how she was looking forward to retirement.  It’s a shame she wasn’t able to really begin that retirement after decades of service to Delaware education.

Rest in peace Sue Francis!

 

Christina Board of Education Will Review Superintendent Spending Tonight

The Christina School District Board of Education will review the amount of spending their Superintendent can spend before they have to get board approval at their monthly meeting tonight.  The current limit is $20,000.  Previously, it had been $50,000 but after their second failed referendum attempt in 2015, the board lowered the amount.

$50,000 is a key figure with Delaware Superintendents.  In Delaware code, any contract of $50,000 or more has to go through the request for proposal process in the state.  Many school districts circumvent this by having contracts for $49,000-$49,999.  These kind of budgets can be controversial.  School boards lose some power when the districts write those kind of vendor contracts.

As well, the board is reviewing this type of spending for school principals with another proposal to raise that amount without a signature from $10,000 to $25,000.

With many citizens in Delaware demanding greater transparency of school district funding, this could be seen by those advocates as more continuous evaporation of schools and districts not giving crucial financial information to the public.

The board also has an item on their agenda, if approved, would give the board more ability to participate in legislation and regulations that could affect the school district.  If implemented, this would give a board member the ability to go to Senate and House Education Committee meetings as well as State Board of Education meetings and give public comment on behalf of the board.  The policy would also mandate that any board member speaking about education policy would have to state in public these are individual thoughts and not reflective of the Christina School District of Board of Education.  For the past two years, the board has declined to join the Delaware School Boards Association which usually has their own representative at these types of meetings.

The board will also discuss the upcoming implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act and what that could mean for the district.  I highly recommend board members participate and comment on this confusing legislation and make sure their voice is heard.

The board meeting will be at Gauger-Cobbs Middle School beginning at 7pm this evening.

FISCAL MANAGEMENT POLICY

CONTRACTS & REAL ESTATE POLICY

LEGISLATIVE PARTICIPATION

 

Is The Former Executive Director From Delaware Schools Boards Association Going To Join A Charter School Board?

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Sue Francis recently retired as the Executive Director of the Delaware School Boards Association.  She held the title for many years.  So what are her plans for her retirement?  Apparently she has expressed a desire to join another school board!  But not just any school board, a charter school board!  As most know, charter school board members are not publicly elected, so the board would have to vote themselves on whether or not she can join.  So which charter school is it? Continue reading

Indian River School District Board Opts Out Of DSBA Membership

Mark Fowser with 105.9 wrote an article concerning the Indian River School Board.  Like the Christina Board of Education last September, they have decided not to continue with the Delaware School Board Association.  This will save the district $13,000 a year.  Christina, in their vote last September, saved over $21,000 by withdrawing from the association.  Their president, James Hudson, said DSBA “no longer has the capacity to represent our interests statewide and in the Delaware legislature.” 

This is very interesting.  Two school districts in the state.  Will others follow?  At last month’s state board of education, DSBA President Sue Francis did indicate she would be working with Academy of Dover in helping their school board get situation after their tumultuous formal review.  This will be something to watch in the upcoming school year…