The Delaware State Board of Education is having a workshop at 9am on January 11th concerning the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss and review the WEIC Final Proposal. This is a public meeting as it appeared on the Delaware Public Meeting calendar. It does not state whether public comment is allowed or not. There is not an end time for the meeting either, but the final proposal is very long. At the December State Board of Education meeting, WEIC leaders Tony Allen, Dan Rich and Elizabeth Lockman, along with Joe Pika, presented the proposal to the State Board. There was a lot of discussion during the meeting about whether or not moving the Christina School District schools in Wilmington to Red Clay was the best for students. Later on in their board meeting, President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray was visibly upset about the Christina Priority Schools getting another planning year based on the recommendations of WEIC’s predecessor, the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee. This will definitely be an interesting conversation on the 11th. The State Board of Education will officially vote on the plan at their January 21st regular meeting.
In the plan, WEIC is asking for the state to chip in $6 million to fund the plan, which would bring the Christina students to Red Clay during the 2018-2019 school year. Typically, the Governor of Delaware does not release the following Fiscal Year’s budget until the final days of January. With the board voting on the plan on 1/21 and the budget not being publicly released until most likely a week later, how can the State Board of Education vote on this if they don’t know where the funding will come from? I would not assume the $8 million Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn is asking for from the foreclosure crisis settlement fund, which he would like to see go towards Delaware’s 16 schools with the highest populations of low-income students, would be allocated for the WEIC initiative. Though the funds Denn is asking for are similar in scope to what WEIC would like to see for this new Red Clay Consolidated district map, there are schools outside of that potential new district that would be included in the 16 schools he is requesting funds for.
On December 9th, Governor Markell appeared at the regular meeting of WEIC and announced Red Clay taxpayers would not have to pay for this. If the receiving district of the Christina students (Red Clay) taxpayers aren’t paying for it, then who is? The logical answer would be the taxpayers of Delaware, which by default would include the Red Clay taxpayers.
Oddly enough, this meeting does not appear on the State Board of Education website. Any state board meetings usually appear on there in advance, but it is not known when this meeting was scheduled. Delaware state law does call for any public meeting to have seven-day notification, and by it appearing on the public meeting calendar it did fulfill that requirement.