Transparency & Kuumba Academy Need To Get Together And Hang Out Sometime

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At the May 2016 Board of Directors meeting for Academia Antonia Alonso, there is a reference to a shooting threat at Kuumba Academy.  Their meeting was on May 23rd.  But from Kuumba Academy, there is complete silence on the issue.  Why am I reading about this on another charter school’s board minutes?  Maybe because Kuumba has not posted any board minutes since early May.  In researching this situation, the News Journal did cover this threat on May 18th.

A text message sent to parents Tuesday said there was a threat of a potential shooting at the building posted on social media.

In the 2015-2016 school year, there were three charter schools in the Community Education Building in downtown Wilmington: Academia Antonia Alonso, Kuumba Academy, and Great Oaks.  Why did the News Journal only mention Kuumba Academy in the article when three schools occupy the building?  But an even bigger question is this: was texting the only form of communication given to parents?  What if a parent doesn’t have a cell phone?  I know, the odds of that are somewhat slim these days, but it is a very real possibility.

I’m sure this is old news to many, especially in Wilmington, but I saw nothing on Kuumba Academy’s website addressing this.  As I mentioned, their board minutes haven’t been updated since May.  They are in violation of Delaware law.  They haven’t put their financial audit up since 2014.  They are in violation of Delaware law.  They have not put their monthly financial information up since June.  They are in violation of Delaware law.  They are required, as a 501c3 non-profit corporation, to put their IRS Form 990 on their website.  No 990s exist on their website.  They are in violation of Delaware law.  I can go on Guidestar.org and see those 990s, but that isn’t the legal requirement in Delaware.  While their Citizens Budget Oversight Committee has met regularly and minutes are posted for that, within the minutes there are questions from the Delaware Department of Education’s required member (also required by Delaware law for every single charter school CBOC), but the answer wasn’t submitted in the minutes.

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I do not understand why Delaware charter schools are not required to follow the law.  The law may say it, but if no one enforces it, what is the point?  Charters in Delaware are now required, as of today, to record all board meetings and post them on their website within seven business days.  Two charter schools, Early College High School and Academy of Dover, had board meetings tonight.  I fully expect to see their audio recordings up by September 6th.  But for Kuumba Academy, they are missing a lot of the requirements in Delaware code.  I plan on going through all the charter school websites tonight to see who is in compliance and who is not.

In terms of the Community Education Building, I can understand why Academia Antonia Alonso left the building.  They begin their 2016-2017 at Barley Mill Plaza.

Is Delaware Met Just Making It Up As They Go Along?

The charter school website.  It can either be a treasure trove of information or the most God awful boring place in the universe.  Depends on the day and what you are looking for.  One Delaware charter school didn’t have much on their website.  That was a story in itself.  But granted, they are new.  And they have been in the news A LOT lately.  It’s been a few days since I posted anything on The Delaware Met.

I checked their website last night, and lo and behold, they have board meeting agendas and minutes up.  I always get suspicious when I see tons of board minutes posted all at once.   Especially when they go back a year.  Why are they just now putting them up?  Probably because they were told to.  I know there was some conversation about this after their last board meeting.  But let’s not get super excited.  They don’t have ANY Citizen’s Budget Oversight Committee agendas or minutes.  Some minutes say they need to get this going by August 2015 while others say September 2015.  And they only have their August 2015 financials up.  Nothing prior. Oddly enough, it let me download their financial statement, but not their board minutes.  Very odd.  But I took pictures of all of them!

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And the financial statement which poses more questions…

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Now looking at this, I see a few things.  They have received 93% of their Federal funds.  Federal funds have something called IDEA-B which is designated for special education use.  Will they get more Federal funds?  Keep in mind, this was August 31st.  A month before the September 30th counts.  As well, they have NOT received their charter school performance award as of 8/31/15.  Why is that?

But the most interesting part about all of this is when it was written.  It is their August 31st financials, right?  When you look at their revenue for state funds, you can see “Mentoring Pilot” and an amount budgeted of $6,000.00.  That’s fair.  That’s what they won in the CIP Competitive Grant from the DOE.  They just announced the winners the other day, on September 30th in the Delaware DOE newsletter called Take Note with a link to all the award winners.  But if they were just awarded those funds in September, how could they have budgeted $6,000 in August for the award they received in September when the application submitted to DOE was for $14,700?  And if their financials were written in September, who knows if the prior board minutes were as well…

I did see in prior minutes the Chair of their Board of Directors has been out sick for a while, so I sincerely wish him the best. Which also explains why I never heard back from the email I sent out on 9/23 to the leader of the Board and their Head of School who also went out on maternity leave as of 9/23.  But the DOE, who was included on that email, could have easily replied back.

Something just isn’t right with this school.  Something is very off.  Delaware DOE, this school needs to go on formal review yesterday!  And just to be on the safe side, in case anything changes, I went ahead and Scribd the financial documents:

Delaware School District Compliance and Transparency Report 2015 Part 1

Okay MHS, you got me on this one.  How can I do this for the charters and not our traditional school districts.  I have yet to look at any of them, and I am very curious what I might find.  There are a few I visit on a regular basis, so this should be interesting.  I know quite a few who have something NONE of the charters have, so those districts will get bonus points just for having that certain something.  But, traditional school districts are not required to put their monthly financial information up on their website like charters are, so this may get a bit wonky!  Here we go!

If it’s regular red, you are a little bit out of compliance, not that big of a deal.  If it’s in red bold, you are really out of compliance and you might want to fix that! Especially if it’s monthly financials and CBOC meetings!

Appoquinimink– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: can’t find them at all, CBOC Meetings: no, see where they have a finance committee, but it isn’t made up of “citizens”, CBOC Minutes: no, next board meeting: August 11th, Bonus: Records board meetings, Grade: F

Brandywine– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC minutes: June 2015, Monthly Financials: June 2015, next board meeting: August 17th, Bonus: Records board meetings AND has meetings showing until June 2016, Grade: A++

Caesar Rodney– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: June 2015, Monthly Financials: June 2015, next board meeting: none listed or showing up on district calendar, Grade: A

Cape Henlopen– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: April 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: not listed, Grade: B

Capital– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: June 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: August 12th , Bonus: board meetings listed through June 2015 AND records board meetings, Grade: A+

Christina– Agenda: yes , Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: August 11th, Bonus: board meetings listed through June 2015 AND records board meetings, Grade: A+

Colonial– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: August 11th, Bonus: board meetings listed through June 2016 AND records board meetings: Grade: A+

To be continued with: Delmar, Indian River, Lake Forest, Laurel, Milford, and New Castle County Vo-Tech.  District web sites take a bit longer to navigate through, especially if they have Board Docs!