Led by Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams, a total of thirteen Delaware legislators wrote a letter to Delaware Secretary of Education about the recently announced match tax giveaway to Delaware charter schools. I wholeheartedly agree. FY2018 budgets have already been approved by local school boards, tax warrants have gone out to the three counties, and districts are still hurting from the budget cuts when Governor Carney signed the budget on July 3rd. I hope Secretary Bunting ends this ridiculous farce. Watch the charters try to sue the state if Bunting decides to drop it because THEY based their budgets on it. Sometimes I just want to scream at the money grabs going on in Delaware…
The voting for the Delaware State Education Association leadership officially ends tomorrow, January 23rd. All ballots must be in as per the DSEA election website. Initial results will be shared with the Executive Director and Business Manager of DSEA on Thursday, and preliminary results will be announced on January 27th. If there is a challenge based on the preliminary results, that would have to be in by February 3rd. At the DSEA Executive Board meeting on February 16th, the results will be officially ratified.
There are four races for the President slot and two for the Vice-President. For President, there is Karen Crouse, Mike Matthews, Danny Rufo, and Dom Zaffora. For Vice-President, there is Jackie Kook and Stephanie Ingraham. Two are running on a “ticket” per se, but that ticket could be divided pending the results. Those “tickets” are Matthews/Kook and Crouse/Ingraham.
What is at stake with this election? The teacher’s union in Delaware would have a lot to contend with in the coming years. The three-year terms would usher in the new Every Student Succeeds Act in Delaware along with mounting budget issues that will almost assuredly result in education cuts along the way. Add on the new Carney administration and a promise from Governor John Carney to make the Delaware Department of Education less of an accountability factory and more of a resource center for districts and charters. However, much of that will depend on the final approved ESSA state plan. Even though ESSA was meant to eliminate a lot of the federal oversight, accountability regulations won’t change things that much. And if history is an indicator, the Delaware DOE loves accountability. The role of teacher evaluations will always be a major issue with DSEA. Other potential factors affecting them, depending on the state budget, could be the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan or the possibility of consolidating districts around the state becoming more than a discussion point.
Eight days after the 2016 elections are over (Thank God!) the Delaware Department of Education will discuss their FY2018 budget with the Office of Management and Budget. This is open to the public, but I recommend getting there early so you can get a seat. The budget for the next fiscal year is going to get crazy. First off, we have the Every Student Succeeds Act. In Delaware’s first draft plan, you can see that a lot of areas in the law will be depending on state funding. Which means the feds will have to decide on our state plan assuming these items would pass in our budget. Delaware is submitting their final plan to the U.S. Dept. of Education on March 6th. That is 116 days before the Delaware General Assembly would even pass the FY2018 budget. So what happens if the feds approve our plan but we don’t have the necessary funding allocations for our plan? The feds would presumably pass (or reject) our plan within 120 days of submission. That puts Delaware in the position of getting the approval after the end of legislative session. Not to mention the fact we will have a new Governor (presumably John Carney) with his own ideas on education. By the time this hearing comes, the next Governor will have been elected. But further complicating matters is the exiting Governor, Jack Markell. His administration will work up the proposed budget which won’t be released until January 2017. And if I know Jack Jack, he will attempt to get all his friends some last-minute goodies! Add in the fact that pretty much everyone in the state wants to trim down the Delaware Dept. of Education and make it less of a bureaucratic nightmare. This will be a must-attend meeting if you can make it. But, of course, it is at 10am in the morning when the true stakeholders in education… students, parents and teachers… are busy doing what they do best.