Bombshell Document Shows Massive Amounts Of Collusion With Indian River School District Audit Investigation

It appears there was collusion going on between various Delaware agencies when it came to the Indian River School District audit investigation in 2016.  As a result of that collusion, Patrick Miller walks free and Susan Bunting became the Delaware Secretary of Education. Continue reading

Proposal Floating To Have State Board Use Charter Performance Framework For Potential State Takeover Of School Districts

All hell broke loose at Smyrna High School’s auditorium tonight.  The Chair of the School District Consolidation Task Force talked about a recommendation for state takeover of struggling school districts. Continue reading

Colonial School District Salaries Over $100,000

I underestimated Colonial School District for years.  I always thought they were just kind of there and they were off my radar.  I didn’t write much about them.  Under the leadership of Superintendent Dusty Blakey, Colonial is changing before our very eyes.  How and why is something I plan on writing much more about in the future.  Colonial struggles to hit that 10,000 student mark.  They face the same thing other districts up there do as they are surrounded by charter schools.  Which baffles me why Blakey would push for the district to be an authorizer of Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security.  But I digress.  Colonial’s board is in for a massive shake-up in the upcoming school board election so it will be interesting to see where this district goes in the future.  Blakey is everywhere these days, attending meetings in Dover all the time and pushing for public/private partnerships.  But a growing discontent among teachers in his district may force Blakey to take a second look at his big push for more Relay Graduate School teachers.  The district does have 6 less administrators making $100,000 and over than they did 4 years ago.  Continue reading

CSAC Recommends DAPSS Stay Open For One Year With Conditions While Queen Margie Exerts Control

At the Delaware Department of Education building in Dover, the Charter School Accountability Committee recommended Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security stay open for another school year with very stringent conditions.  At that point, Colonial’s Board of Education could very well decide to take over their charter.  Queen Margie once again made it all about her.  But the discussion that reached this point was very intense.  Much more information here than you will find in the Delaware DOE press release. Continue reading

The Behind The Scene Plans To Save DAPSS & What The DOE Isn’t Telling Us

On the surface, Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security is toast.  But many key players in the Delaware education world are busy making plans to make sure that outcome does not happen.  How do you get a school way below enrollment to survive?  You partner up and you do it fast! Continue reading

The Détente

Last night, I attended an education meeting that was very different.  It was a very odd group of folks getting together in one room to talk about things that affect all Delaware schools.  It was a mixture of people who represented two different sides of public education. Continue reading

Colonial School District To Hold 2nd Referendum Of The Year On June 6th

A few weeks ago, the Colonial School District referendum failed to gain enough yes votes for it to pass.  So the district is holding another referendum on Tuesday, June 6th.  The district issued a press release today.

Colonial Schedules Second Referendum

New Castle, DE- The Colonial School Board of Education voted in favor of holding a second referendum on Tuesday, June 6, 2017. The Board agreed to the same operating amount sought in the February 28 referendum of 38 cents per $100 of assessed home value. With impending cuts to the state budget announced recently, the 38 cents will now meet operating and growth needs only, and not the expansion of other district initiatives.

The Board of Education agreed to remove the capital improvement request of 1.4 cents, the second part of the February referendum, which was also rejected by voters.

Due to the failed referendum, the Colonial School District has implemented an immediate hiring, spending, and travel freeze to preserve funds through the remainder of this fiscal year.

Should the June referendum also be defeated, Colonial is preparing to implement over $4 million in cuts for the 2017-2018 school year. Immediate implications include:
• Over 170 positions will be eliminated. All departments will be impacted.
• Class sizes will increase due to the reduction in staff.
• Middle school and freshman sports will be cancelled.
• Parents will be required to provide basic school supplies.
• Student travel and field trips will be cancelled or costs will be incurred by parents.
• Art Show, Band and Choral Festivals and STEAM Showcase will be cancelled.
• The annual Teacher of the Year and retirement dinners will be cancelled.
• Summer enrichment programs will be cancelled, including Middle School Institute and STEM, impacting over 700 students.
• Summer Credit Recovery Program for high school students will be cancelled.

“We realized that we didn’t communicate the impact that a failed referendum will have on our schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Dusty Blakey. While vowing to remain committed to providing students with a quality education Blakey said, “If we aren’t successful in June, we are preparing to make some very difficult choices that will impact our valued staff, and as a result, our students. When we are forced to make drastic cuts like this, we look to preserve our classrooms. However, staff cuts will mean larger class sizes and possibly the end of some popular academic programs. In addition, some sports and extracurricular activities will also be casualties.”

Gary Phillips, President of the Friends of Colonial, is meeting with parents and community members who want to see the referendum pass in June saying, “The Colonial School District has made tremendous strides over the last few years. We want to see that momentum continue for the sake our students, so we will work very hard to convince voters to support the district by voting for the June 6th referendum,” Phillips said.

Can A Superintendent Of A School District Join A Charter School Board?

To my knowledge, this is a first.  A New Castle County school district Superintendent has been nominated to join a charter school board.  I know board members from a traditional school district are not able to join a charter school board, but I don’t believe there is anything in Delaware state code that would prevent a Superintendent from joining.  With that being said, I believe this would be a HUGE conflict of interest for both the charter and the district.  Continue reading

Colonial To WEIC: We Don’t Want Our Wilmington Students Going To Red Clay Schools

Our only role at this point is to save those babies from having to attend Red Clay because we’re already doing a great job…we need to prevent these children from going to this district. -Mel Spotts, Colonial Board of Education

I always knew some twist was going to come along in the whole Wilmington redistricting initiative.  Something would happen during the process that would cause people to say “Where the hell did that come from?”  That happened last night at the Colonial School District Board of Education meeting.  To end the suspense, the Colonial board voted 7-0 to keep their Wilmington students.  Let me repeat this, they do not want their Wilmington students leaving their school district and going to the Red Clay Consolidated School District.  Approximately 350 students.  You can listen to the audio recording here.

Unlike Christina and Red Clay, the Colonial board never passed a resolution in favor of the recommendations or findings from the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee.  Existing Delaware law, in addition to the legislation from Senate Bill 122, allows for the bypass of a referendum if the school district boards involved in the redistricting effort passed a resolution in favor of it.  Colonial, in researching their board minutes, never did.  The only involvement with WEAC was a presentation to the school district on 2/23/15, but this was a workshop and just a presentation.

What this means for the whole Wilmington Education Improvement Commission is not known.  This is the monkey wrench thrown into the gears of the entire plan.  In my opinion, Colonial was underestimated and not given the proper attention they should have received.  All of the focus seems to be on Red Clay and Christina.  Colonial seems to be very concerned about the approximate 350 students that would be affected by the redistricting to Red Clay schools.  In their audio recording from their board meeting last night, board member Mel Spotts stated:

I would like to make a motion, based on the data provided, that our students in the Colonial School District stay within our borderlines and are not a part of Wilmington reconfiguration.

The board then passed the motion on a unanimous 7-0 vote to let the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission know they are out of the redistricting process.  What this will do the future of the WEIC/redistricting initiative is going to be a big question in the coming weeks.  But I am fairly certain WEIC Chair Tony Allen and Governor Markell will not be happy about this.  I’m sure the phone calls will be coming fast and furious to Colonial Superintendent Dusty Blakey very soon, if not already.

I’m also hearing implementation of the redistricting, if it even goes through at this point in time, won’t be until 2018.

*To clarify, if the Wilmington redistricting does go through it is understood that Brandywine School District would receive these students which Ms. Spotts understood later on in the WEIC portion of the board meeting.  But the motion still passed.

*As well I reworded the portion with Senate Bill 122 to clarify what is in existing Delaware code prior to SB122 and what came as a result of it.