Last night the Christina Board of Education, in front of a packed house, passed the Memorandum of Understanding between the district, the Delaware Department of Education and Governor John Carney’s office with a 4-2-1 vote. Board members John Young and Elizabeth Paige voted no while member Angela Mitchell abstained. The tense meeting, which lasted over three hours, had Carney sitting in the audience the entire time. While the News Journal, WHYY, and WDEL all came to the meeting, many parts of the meeting were not covered in their articles. Continue reading
The Cape Henlopen School District Board of Education will hold a board meeting tonight to vote on proposals that will change the enrollment patterns of their elementary and middle schools in the fall of 2017. A new elementary school called Love Creek will be built by then and the board recognized this will change the boundaries for which students go to which schools.
At issue with many parents is what happens with Richard Shields Elementary School if they go with one of the proposals. After six proposals have been presented, the Superintendent is leaning towards Proposal F, but the board prefers the newer Proposals G, shown in the below document. The Board feels the greatest priority should be having a balance of low-income children in each of their schools. Currently, Shields has a population of 27% low-income students, but with the proposed changes that could increase that level to 42%. Love Creek, the new school, would have a 26% low-income population. Many parents felt the priorities should be students attending schools closest to their homes and how the changes would affect families in the district. Parents are concerned about changes in school climate, similar to what happened at Skyline Middle School in the Red Clay Consolidated School District this year. They also feel that forced busing is not the way to go. Other parents I spoke with were okay with the changes and feel there should be more equity between the schools in the district. While not official, the students who have been choiced to a school already will be allowed to stay, but if a student is moved through the reorganization they will not be allowed to move back to their original school through choice.
As per the Delaware Dept. of Education website, Cape Henlopen as a whole had 5,170 students as of their September 30th count.
The board meeting tonight will be held at Beacon Middle School at 6pm which could decide the schools 2,600 students go to in the Cape Henlopen School District. 185 students have been choiced by their parents within the district while 273 students from other districts were choiced into Cape Henlopen. For their race and ethnicity profiles, 66.7% of Cape students are white, 14.3% are Hispanic/Latino, 13.7% are African-American, and the other almost 6% are either a multi-racial, Asian or American Indian. For the 2014-2015 school year, the average district expenditure per pupil was $15,254.
For their elementary schools, the DOE profiles (which are based on the September 30th counts) look like this currently:
Brittingham: 41.1% white, 31.7% Hispanic/Latino, 21.1% African-American, 57.4% low-income, 15.4% English Language learners, and 12.5% special education
Milton: 72.6% white, 11.4% Hispanic/Latino, 11.7% African-American, 30.2% low-income, 5.1% English Language learners, and 14.7% special education
Rehoboth: 75.5% white, 10.3% Hispanic/Latino, 9.3% African-American, 34.7% low-income, 5.3% English Language learners, and 9.5% special education
Shields: 71% white, 10.2% Hispanic/Latino, 8.5% African-American, 23.7% low-income, 3% English Language learners, and 8.7% special education
The on-leave Superintendent of the Christina School District, Freeman Williams, submitted a retirement letter to the district effective February, 2016. In August, Williams went on a leave status which prompted the Christina Board of Education to hire an Acting Superintendent. Former Red Clay Superintendent Bob Andrzejewski is the current Acting Superintendent, but Christina’s Board must now look for a new and permanent Superintendent.
The first time I met Freeman was 13 months ago at a special board meeting at Christina surrounding the priority schools. I found him to be very cordial and respectful, and he was greatly concerned about the priority status designated to the three Christina schools. I attended quite a few Christina board meetings in the next five months and watched them systematically and efficiently hold back the Delaware Department of Education and Governor Markell from making rash and hasty decisions over the Christina priority schools.
The last time I saw Freeman was at the Imagine Delaware Forum back in March. I had a very pleasant discussion with him concerning House Bill 50 and parent opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which he supported. Whatever his reason for retirement, I wish him the best and I hope he enjoys his time away from the crazy education environment we live in.
As Christina will assuredly attempt another referendum in 2016 amidst severe financial issues, the search will be on for a new Superintendent. This district needs a very strong leader who can rally the people in favor of Christina. While some think Christina may wind up in receivership by the end of the year, I would prefer to have hope. The long-term impact of charters has definitely siphoned off a great deal of local funding due to many of the students in Christina’s feeder pattern choicing out to charters, and the emergence of so many new charters in Wilmington this school year alone has definitely had a negative effect. Now is the time for Christina to strongly promote their strengths and eliminate their weaknesses. What many don’t realize is Christina also holds the Delaware Autism Program and the Delaware School for the Deaf. That could cause tremendous problems for the students involved if they have to transition out of the existing programs.
At yesterday’s Delaware State Board of Education meeting, it was announced the Mapleton Charter School of Whitehall submitted a major modification request on 9/16. Mapleton is looking to move to Kent County, lower it’s enrollment and change it’s name. While the last is not part of a major modification, the Charter School Office at the DOE is rolling it all into one big request. The school is scheduled to open in the 2016-2017 academic year.
From my recollection, this would be the first time a charter has switched locations to a different county in Delaware. Kent County currently has six charter schools: Campus Community, Providence Creek Academy, Academy of Dover, Positive Outcomes, First State Military Academy and Early College High School. Three of them are in Dover, two in Smyrna, and one in Camden-Wyoming. The only other charter school south of the Caesar Rodney School District is Sussex Academy, in the heart of Indian River School District.
Jennifer Nagourney, the Director of the Charter School Office, said it would be up on the Charter School website, but she also emphasized this is a very large application to which State Board member Pat Heffernan advised Nagourney to “get her reading glasses.” I can’t wait to see it though. I would love to know where they are planning to locate in Kent County. I know Kendall Massett published an editorial on Town Square Delaware over a year ago about needing more charters in Kent and Sussex County. While the bulk of Delaware’s charters are in New Castle County, and more specifically, Wilmington, two of the new charters that opened this year went on formal review due to low enrollment. They made it out of that status, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Mapleton saw this happening and started making new plans.
I’m sure we will have more answers next week. If I were a betting man, I would guess we could say them looking to move to southern Kent County. But this is all guesswork on my end. If this were the case, and I’m not saying it is, this could affect enrollment in Caesar Rodney, Lake Forest and Milford school districts the most. And any location would of course be based on approval by the State Board of Education. The State Board previously approved their application to begin as a K-2 school, with an enrollment of 100 in each grade. Each successive year, the school will add the next grade going up to 5th grade in four years for a total of 600 students by 2020. But of course, if the major modification is approved, their enrollment will be less. And obviously, their Middletown area location would be different. And they probably don’t want to call it Mapleton Charter School at Whitehall if they aren’t in Whitehall.
Ironically enough, Mapleton’s Chair of their Board of Directors is Dr. Michael Stetter. Stetter used to work at the Delaware DOE as their Director of Accountability Resources and
This series began with Delaware charter schools and the four Wilmington School Districts. Now were going to the middle of Delaware, to the Capital School District in Kent County, home to our state capital, Dover.
CAPITAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
SBAC ELA & MATH RESULTS and LOW-INCOME PERCENTAGES
The above graph shows some trends, but not as noteworthy as Red Clay and Christina School Districts. Capital, like many other districts “south of the canal”, does not have more than one middle school or high school. In fact, there “two” middle schools consist of William Henry which serves grades 5-6 and Central Middle, 7-8. The true outlier in this graph is Dover High School and their very low Math Smarter Balanced results.
While this looks like no true trends exist, if we take out Dover High, Central Middle, and William Henry (where all three have all the Capital elementary schools converging into one building in all future grades), we are left with Capital’s elementary schools which only go up to 4th grade. We can see an overall trend in the below graph similar to the Wilmington school districts and Delaware Charter Schools: low-income level is high, Smarter Balanced Scores are lower, and vice-versa.
CAPITAL SCHOOL DISTRICT ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
LOW-INCOME & SBAC RESULTS
In the below graph, I threw in the true charter schools that primarily exist within the Capital School District, Campus Community School and Academy of Dover, just to see what would happen. There isn’t too much change.
CAPITAL SCHOOL DISTRICT & LOCAL CHARTERS
LOW-INCOME & SBAC RESULTS
In the below graph, I threw in the district’s special education and English Language Learner percentages for each school based on DOE School Profiles data on their website for the 2014-2015 year. The grey special education area does show a slight downward trend in schools the higher the population gets for each school, with the exception of Booker T. Elementary School. This school also houses the district’s talented and gifted program, so there numbers should be a bit higher given that.
CAPITAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
SBAC RESULTS, LOW-INCOME, SPECIAL EDUCATION & ELL
Sandwiched in the middle of the state, Capital is a unique district. The more affluent areas exist within the Hartly area, which shows much higher scores than all the other schools in the district. But I foresee Capital’s numbers drastically changing in the future as some schools are set up with the World Language Immersion program, and others are not. Since special education students and “problem” students don’t usually enter into these types of programs, we could eventually see some Capital schools bottoming out on SBAC if it stays on the same course. Hopefully Capital will self-correct their internal student population otherwise they could be looking at priority schools in 4-5 years time. Of course, the grand hope is ALL of this high-stakes testing and accountability nonsense will be gone by then!
Like I said up above, the trends in Capital don’t exactly mirror the schools in Wilmington due to some of the unique nature of their district alignment with schools. When my son attended an elementary school in Capital, he went to Booker T, even though we passed North and Fairview before we got there. So there feeder patterns are a bit different as well.
One final graph I did want to point out, which doesn’t really have much to do with Smarter Balanced scores, but does show an interesting graphic is the correlation between low-income and special education within Capital.
CAPITAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
LOW-INCOME & SPECIAL EDUCATION
The numbers on this fluctuate a bit, but there are some indications of a trend. With that being said though, special education can be a very tricky beast and no school is the same. We will have more of an idea how special education students fared on the Smarter Balanced in six days when the sub-group data is released by the wild bunch down at the DOE.