Delaware State Representative and Chair of the Delaware School District Consolidation Task Force Earl Jaques released the final report of the school district consolidation task force today. The report, seen below, does NOT recommend consolidating school districts based on “findings” that it would not save a substantial amount of money. It does, however, give recommendations regarding shared services among school districts. This report, in my opinion, is missing a TON of information! Continue reading
It was one of those blink and you miss it moments. In the midst of budget negotiations in the early hours of July 1st, the Delaware House of Representatives voted again on House Concurrent Resolution #39 after Senator Colin Bonini added an amendment in the Senate. The bill passed the Senate but because the amendment was added, the House had to vote again.
Bonini’s amendment removed charter schools from being a part of any district consolidation discussion. When the bill came back to the House, State Rep. Kim Williams added another amendment which would remove the Delaware Charter Schools Network from membership on the district consolidation task force. It was a logical amendment. If charters didn’t want to be a part of the discussion, why would they want membership? The amendment barely passed with 21 yes and 20 no. The sole Republican yes vote came from State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman. Democrats who voted against it were Earl Jaques, Melanie Smith, Larry Mitchell, Quinton Johnson and Pete Schwartzkopf. None of those Dem votes really surprise me. Some who voted yes surprised me, but I have seen similar votes with charter related bills this year so perhaps there could be a shift in thinking on that front.
The Delaware Department of Education is the support agency for this task force. While no meetings have been scheduled at this point, the final report is due to the General Assembly by January 30th, 2018. I expect this task force will get going at some point later this summer.
House Concurrent Resolution passed the Delaware Senate a short time ago with amendment by Delaware Senator to take charter schools out of the district consolidation task force’s discussion. A prior amendment in the House from State Rep. Earl Jaques included charter schools in the task force discussion. Oddly enough, Senator Bonini’s amendment didn’t remove a representative from the Delaware Charter Schools Network from the task force.
Senator David Sokola said this bill did not have to be heard in committee but felt it was an important enough topic to have that voice.
Senator Bryan Townsend expressed hope that charters would be a part of the task force’s review. He said the intent of the legislation is a coordinated school system. He recognized Delaware’s unique education system and understood the ideological discussion of Senator Colin Bonini but still felt all Delaware public schools should be part of that system.
Senator Bonini’s amendment passed with 12 yes, 8 no, and 1 absent. For the concurrent resolution, it passed with 17 yes, 3 no, and 1 absent. I imagine it will come back to the House tonight.
Senator Townsend’s Senate Concurrent Resolution #39, requesting an advisory opinion from the Justices of the Delaware Supreme Court on the efficiency of Delaware’s public school system, was defeated in the Delaware Senate with 9 yes, 10 no, 1 not voting, and 1 absent. House Bill #142, dealing with training for School Resource Officers in situations dealing with students with disabilities, passed the Senate with 20 yes and 1 no. The Kim Williams sponsored bill goes to Governor Carney for signature.
House Concurrent Resolution #39 would create a School District Consolidation Task Force. Yes, another task force in Delaware. Because we must always have a group of people sitting around a table before we can do anything. This task force would study if it is worth consolidating school districts in Delaware. This is something I actually favor. Nineteen school districts in little old Delaware? There are school districts in other states with more students than the entire student population of Delaware. I believe it will happen, but the question is how many? I don’t think there should be more than five. Expect a lot of battles on this one. I am fairly sure nineteen superintendents won’t want to give up their titles. Some would have to if this went through. This will be one of the hottest topics in the second leg of the 149th General Assembly beginning in January, 2018. I’m calling it now!
Where it goes from here is the House Education Committee. It is on the agenda for the meeting tomorrow (must be nice to be the Sponsor of the bill AND the Chair of the Committee). But tomorrow is the last day of committee meetings before the General Assembly closes up shop this year so this is my guestimation on what will happen: clears House Education Committee, gets a House vote in the affirmative, gets sent to Senate Education Committee, a suspension of rules allows it to bypass the committee, Senate votes yes, and the task force gets going late summer/early fall.