Later today, the superintendents are having a top-secret, non-public meeting at the Delaware DOE. This is in regards to the priority schools in the Christina and Red Clay Consolidated School Districts. Board members of both districts do not appear to be happy about this at all. The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) concerning these schools is due by September 30th.
Six elementary schools from the districts were picked by Governor Markell last week to receive about $6 million over five years. The problem is additional administrators will be forced upon the schools at a price tag of $160,000 each, which is above the average administrator price tag in Delaware. When all is said and done, this really isn’t leaving the schools with much left over money each year to get the services they desperately need.
The boards of the school have been discussing what to do. If they say no to the MOU, then there is a chance the state could take over the schools. And many have guessed they would then become charter schools. But who owns the buildings? The districts. So would the state have to buy the buildings or rent them from the districts? And what happens with the teachers. They have union representation, and contracts to uphold with the districts.
What becomes of the students? These are already low income Title 1 schools. They also have high populations of special education students. That much chaos and upheaval is never good for a normal student, much less students with disabilities.
It remains to be seen what this meeting will be about, but some legislators aren’t happy. From Delaware House Representative John Kowalko on Kilroy’s Delaware last night:
Although I never received an answer to the email request I made to DOE seeking an invite i will be going to this meeting tomorrow at the Carvel bldg. Despite a phone conversation I had with a DOE top staffer who had the audacity to say my attendance would be inappropriate I will be attending. Although it was difficult to suppress my anger at the thought that an “appointed” staffer would presume to tell a duly “elected” official what was appropriate or inappropriate about his or her responsibilities I will be attending. Because I represent thousands of households with thousands of children in the CSD and because I have served for eight years on the House Education committee and witnessed first-hand the debacle of the previous MOU re partnership zone schools and the Glasgow outrage, I will be attending. My obligation to all children in the state public school system, to the taxpaying families that support the school system, to my constituents, to the educators who daily fight to fulfill the needs of the children (while money has been taken and not returned to the public school system) is all of the justification I’ll ever need to know it is appropriate for me to attend. It is my sworn duty and obligation to question and challenge the non-educator salesmen who contrive solutions that have no basis in data accumulated effectiveness and fail to address the obvious needs of an impoverished America forced to live on handouts rather than face the reality of poverty driven failures in public education. It is my sworn obligation to look into the eyes of the RODELS and VISION 2015…2021 et.al. and their solicitors and messengers who would rather control the dialogue and set the stage and sell the tickets to an audience that is best kept in the dark. Yes I will attend and it is absolutely appropriate that I do.
State Representative John Kowalko (25th District)
Damn! That is one pissed off elected official. And he has every right to be. This situation is escalating very fast, and it sounds like the districts are being pitted with the boards on one side and the superintendents on the other. The boards do have other options, and this could become very ugly.
Nancy Willing of Delaware Way blog fame has an excellent post on this: http://delawareway.blogspot.com/2014/09/are-markell-and-ddoe-holding-up-our.html