Ron Russo’s BOLD Plan Regurgitates Old Plans And The Worst Ideas Ever In Delaware Education

Ron Russo, the former Head of School at the Charter School of Wilmington, launched The BOLD Plan today on Facebook.  Using the tag “Education is a business”, Russo managed to take the most horrible ideas ever from the past three decades and put them into a single pile of absolute garbage.  While I don’t think this plan will go anywhere, it is symptomatic of the very same corporate education reform think tank crap that has proliferated American public education and turned Delaware’s school system into a very bad joke. The whole plan can be read below. Continue reading

Breaking News: Newark Charter School Leader Greg Meece To Retire End Of School Year

The following email went out to Newark Charter School parents this evening.  Greg Meece is retiring as Head of School at Newark Charter School.

Dear Newark Charter School Community:

It has been an honor to serve students and families in Delaware through my chosen vocation of education for nearly 40 years. The last 18 years can only be described as a “dream job” – starting and leading the greatest school of them all: Newark Charter School. It is, therefore, with mixed emotions that I am announcing my retirement this coming summer. By announcing this now, I give our Board of Directors ample time to find my replacement, and our Board has asked me to take a major role in the transition process.  A letter from our Board Chair, Dr. Franklin Newton, is attached.

NCS Board Chair Letter 1-15-19.pdf

I am confident that a qualified leader with creative ideas, loads of energy and a deep commitment to our school’s mission will take Newark Charter School to the next level. 

Deciding to transition from something you’ve spent your whole adult life doing is not easy. Not when you love what you do. My wife Rosemary, also a career educator, is retiring as well. We have discussed this for a long time, and we agreed to make the move together.

Leaving the place you come to work each morning is especially hard when it is so much a part of you. My heart and soul are forever fused with this remarkable institution. I am part of this school and it is a part of me.

I feel that the time is right for me to step aside. I am leaving our community with a school that is in great shape now and is well-positioned for a bright and promising future. We recently completed our Strategic Long-Range Plan. Our charter has a brand-new 10-year renewal term. Our two-time National Blue Ribbon School earned “straight A’s” on all of Delaware’s 2018 measures of charter school success. We have a healthy waiting list of students. Our finances and management rank among the top charter schools in the country. We acquired land and a building next door where we can grow. We have made substantial progress on a plan to greatly enhance our campuses and buildings.

As you might imagine, building and directing Newark Charter School over the last 18 years has been an all-encompassing endeavor. While I will greatly miss the entire community, come July, I am excited to spend more time with my family. With my one-year-old granddaughter and my father in his 90s, it is an interesting time in one’s life to be a bridge that links generations. Beyond spending more time with family, I am not sure what the future holds for me. After a chance to “smell the roses,” I most likely will look forward to new challenges, either part-time or full-time, in education or in something completely different.

Change will be challenging for all of us. I offer this advice that I, too, try to remember everyday: embrace change as something healthy and renewing. At the same time, never lose sight of what got us here, what we stand for, our “North Star.”

I am forever grateful to the founding board of directors who gave me this opportunity, and to the current board for their tremendous support. Nobody could ask for better colleagues. I am blessed to work beside so many teachers, staff and fellow administrators who bring true excellence to our school every day, for every child. Committed parents started Newark Charter School. I saw the powerful relationship between parents and staff – home and school. I will always cherish the many ways I have gotten to know and work with such involved and supportive partners in education.

Most of all, I will miss our students. Following Newark Charter School’s opening day of school in 2001, I mentioned to someone, “If my career ended today I would feel fulfilled.” Seeing children so happy, so proud to be here, even though their school was nothing more than rented trailers on a borrowed property, I knew that I was part of something special. Eighteen school years later, I retire with pride, gratitude and love for the children who breathed life into this school and for all the students who make Newark Charter School such a wonderful place now and for many years to come.

Forever grateful,

Gregory Meece

Kendall Massett’s White Privilege

We can’t celebrate successful schools that don’t celebrate diversity, period.

During the State Board of Education meeting tonight, a fascinating conversation took place concerning diversity at Newark Charter School.  While Delaware Charter Schools Network Executive Director Kendall Massett did not say a word during the talk, she did something that exhibited a distinct brand of white privilege that had to be seen to be believed.  Lucky for me, I saw it. Continue reading

State Board of Education Approves 7 Charter Schools For Renewal, Newark Charter School Gets 10 Year Renewal

Tonight, in a half hour part of their monthly meeting, the Delaware State Board of Education approved seven Delaware charter schools to be renewed. Continue reading

Here Comes The Jaques State Takeover Legislation! Legislators Need To Read This! You’ve Been Warned!

State Rep. Earl Jaques is actually going to do it.  According to Delaware Public Media, Jaques actually went on the record with it yesterday. Continue reading

Moment of Truth for 8 Delaware Charter Schools

On December 20th, the State Board of Education will decide on seven charter school renewals at their monthly meeting after hearing the decision by Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting.  Meanwhile, the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education will decide on Charter School of Wilmington’s charter renewal.  Two charters want a ten-year renewal.  Two have submitted minor modification requests to decrease enrollment.  Yesterday, the Delaware DOE’s Charter School Office released the final reports for all seven charters up for renewal through their office.  Continue reading

Rep. Paul Baumbach To Christina: “Keep Moving As Fast As You Can”

At the end of the Christina School District Board of Education meeting last week, State Representative Paul Baumbach spoke before the board.  He thanked the board and the district for the changes they implemented in the past year and “strongly encouraged” them to keep doing it.  There was a specific reason Baumbach did this.  He admitted the General Assembly doesn’t help. Continue reading

Earl Jaques Is Really Pushing For State Takeover Of Christina

The most controversial piece of legislation in the Delaware General Assembly will be State Rep. Earl Jaques’ brainfart of an idea to have the State of Delaware take over the Christina School District.  Continue reading

Leaderless DOE Fails To Deliver On Charter School Transparency & The Big Plan For NCS

When you don’t have a leader going on a fifth month is it any wonder the Charter School Office is going to Hell in a hand basket?  As the authorizer for seven charter schools under renewal this year, the Delaware Department of Education can’t even follow their own timeline.  It seems like things are going on behind the scenes with Newark Charter School during all this. Continue reading

The Lies Greg Meece Says About Newark Charter School

Greg Meece runs Newark Charter School.  For 18 years, Newark Charter School is rated not only one of the top charter schools in Delaware but one of the top schools.  There is a multitude of reasons for this but it boils down to diversity.  At their public hearing for their charter renewal process, Meece made a comment that is sure to rile up the diversity crowd all over again.  Meece openly lied about his own school. Continue reading

Delaware Education Roundup October Edition

There are always gems to be found when you comb through district and charter board minutes, agendas, and websites.  I did that last night and found a ton of stuff!  Instead of coming out with a dozen or more articles about it, I thought I would just combine all of it one fell swoop!  There is A LOT of material in here so dig in! Continue reading

John Kowalko Doesn’t Hate Charter Schools But…

When you think of those who don’t support charter schools in Delaware, one of the first names that pops up is State Representative John Kowalko, from the 25th Rep. District.  Known for his arguments against charter schools, specifically Delaware’s biggest- Newark Charter School, it can be easy to make the assumption Kowalko hates charter schools.  However, that is not the case.

Earlier this weekend, Kowalko sent out an email to his constituents with his thoughts and beefs on Delaware charter schools. Continue reading

Delaware DOE Has 7 Charter School Renewals To Contend With This Fall!

When you have 24 charter schools in a state, 22 of which are authorized by the state Department of Education, there are going to be years where the amount of charter renewals are going to go up.  This fall, the Delaware DOE Charter School Office and the Charter School Accountability Committee are going to have their hands full as seven charter schools go through their renewal process. Continue reading

JFC Snuck In A Permanent Charter School Transportation Slush Fund Racket Into Budget Bill

The Delaware Joint Finance Committee did the unthinkable.  Every year since 2010, the Charter School Transportation Slush Fund has been a part of the epilogue language in the budget bill.  This is where Delaware charter schools get to keep whatever they don’t spend in their budgeted transportation amount.  As an example, if M. Smith Charter School budgets $200,000 for transportation and they only spend $150,000, they get to keep the rest of that money the state gave them.  School districts aren’t allowed to do this.

But now the JFC actually wrote a bill into the Epilogue Language of the FY2019 budget bill, Senate Bill 235.  In past years, it was just part of the budget bill but now they are inserting what should be a separate bill into the budget bill.  In other words, if you don’t vote yes for the budget bill, you are a traitor to all Delawareans.  So pass our charter school boon or risk being lambasted by the Democrat leadership.  This is what they are actually seeking to amend in the budget bill:

  1. b) Notwithstanding subsection a), a charter school may negotiate a contract (multi-year, if desired) for contractor payment for school transportation up to the maximum rate of 70% or the charter school may publicly bid the transportation routes. If the actual negotiated or bid costs are lower than the maximum rate, the charter school may keep the difference to provide services to low-income and/or English-Language Learners. If the charter school includes a fuel adjustment contract provision, the charter school shall be responsible for increased payments to the contractor or it may keep funds taken back from the contractor.

Anyone who follows end of June politics in Delaware knows that State Rep. John Kowalko fights this every single year.  This year is no exception but he is even more offended about them actually putting a bill in a bill.  He has his amendment ready to go:

AMEND Senate Bill No. 235 on page 233 by deleting “If the actual negotiated or bid costs are lower than the maximum rate, the charter school may keep the difference to provide services to low-income and/or English-Language Learners.

SYNOPSIS

This amendment to the budget bill removes a proposed addition to the Delaware Code contained in the epilogue language that would permanently allow charter schools to “keep the difference” for transportation funding that is not used to fund transportation costs.

The proposed addition to the Delaware Code would contradict the requirement in 14 Del. C. § 508(a) that the State reimburse charter schools only for actual transportation costs, which is also required for all other public schools pursuant to the Delaware Administrative Code.

Will the Delaware General Assembly finally stop this nonsense?  Who is pushing this besides the Delaware Charter Schools Network?  Could it be a departing co-chair of the Delaware JFC who pretty much had to resign so she could get her kid into Newark Charter School despite the improbability of getting in through their lottery and the HUGE waiting list?

Seven Delaware Charter Schools Up For Renewal Next Fall!!!!

Every year, the Delaware State Board of Education gets to vote on charter school renewals.  This year, there are seven charter schools up for renewal.  I believe this is a record and will keep the Charter School Office busy from now until then.  But this year could be different for these renewals because of events going on the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education that are beyond their control. Continue reading

Charter School Salaries Over $100,000: MOT, Newark Charter, Odyssey, Providence Creek, & Sussex Academy

These five charter schools are very distinctive in one area: they all have low populations of special education students compared to their surrounding districts.  But those aren’t the only comparisons among them.  Two of them have school leaders that received salary bumps over $50,000 and then resigned or are set to retire.  Pension law in Delaware sets your pension based on your three highest years of salary.  Intentional?  You be the judge.

These five charters range from near the top of Delaware in New Castle County all the way to the heart of Sussex County with one right near the middle in Kent.  All of these charters have significant student enrollment and have taken many students from their surrounding school districts.  They are also in very populous, and in some cases, fast growing areas of the state.

Continue reading

Newark Charter School’s Greg Meece On What NCS Is Doing For School Safety

A few days ago I put up a post about an alleged lack of intruder drills at Newark Charter School.  A few parents approached me and were very concerned.  Many denied the school never conducted these drills.  As such, I will be checking with schools in the future when parents come to me about these type of things.

Greg Meece from NCS issued a letter to parents about what both locations of Newark Charter have done to promote school safety:

Dear NCS Community:
Like all of you, I was deeply saddened to watch the news last week and see another tragic school shooting.  Our hearts go out to the community of that Florida high school for such a senseless and devastating loss of life.  As we grieve for the families of the students and teachers who lost their lives, we begin to think about the safety of our own school community.  I thought it would be comforting to share with you some of the things we at Newark Charter School have done, and will continue to do, to provide the best safety and security we can.
Our school has been fully compliant with the Comprehensive School Safety Omnibus Safety Act since its inception.  We are proud that we recently received a special award from the Department of Homeland Security to recognize our school being in 100% compliance with Delaware’s Omnibus School Safety Act. To be compliant, schools are required to:
  • Have a Comprehensive School Safety Plan (CCSP) that aligns with the Delaware Department of Homeland Security requirements;
  • The school’s CCSP, including rally points, building plans and other campus-specific information  is maintained on a secured server (Emergency Response Information Portal) that can be accessed by first responders;
  • We conduct monthly drills including but not limited to: fire dills/heightened security drills/bus evacuation drills, etc.;
  • We conduct at least two intruder/lockdown drills each school year;
  • We conduct at least two table top exercises (walk-through of Emergency Action Plans) each School Year).
We have upgraded our facilities and resources to protect our students.  For example, we reinforced key windows and doors, making them more resilient to forced entry and, in some cases, making them shatter-proof if hit by bullets.
We established a single point of entry in each of our three buildings, including lock-out systems that require either a school security badge (which all staff members are required to display at all times) or having an office staff member permit entrance to the school hallways by activating the door lock buzzer system.  This, of course, is only after proper identification is given or when we know the visitor and their purpose.  Visitors, then, receive badges as well.
We installed cameras in main entrances to monitor those entering and leaving.  We are currently adding approximately a dozen internal cameras as well.
This year, we marked all the outside classroom and office windows of our schools with numbers corresponding to the room numbers.  This is designed to aid first responders when they arrive on campus.
There has been an effort to pass legislation in Delaware that would require classroom door locks at the state’s public schools to be lockable from both inside and outside the room.  All Newark Charter School classroom already meet this goal.
All administrators, custodians, secretaries, counselors and other key staff members carry two-way radios.
We have a great partnership with the local police force.  For example, we allow the Newark Police Department SWAT team as well as State of Delaware law enforcement to use our buildings and grounds for their drills and trainings.  For many years, Newark Charter School has been used for police K-9 trainings at night.  Recently, we contracted with the City of Newark Police Department to provide ALICE training.
ALICE training has been used locally, including in Cecil County School District, with great results. The ALICE instructors provide interested businesses, schools, churches, etc., with active shooter/threat response training. Newark Charter School was able to help underwrite the costs associated with training the Newark Police Department officers so that they, in turn, can provide ALICE training to our school and to others as often as necessary.
We meet with our staff at the beginning of each year to go over our safety plans and to make sure everyone knows what to do.  Our students are amazing about knowing and practicing what to do.  I can’t rave enough about how smoothly they make our drills work.
Recently, we had a representative from Sandy Hook Promise present the “Start with Hello” and “Say Something” programs to our students. Both of these age-appropriate programs provide strategies for students to recognize and assist students who may be struggling as another strategy for preventing school violence. This compliments our long-standing anti-bullying efforts.
I wish I could push a magic button to make school violence no more, but the reality is that we have to work together and to be open to change when it is necessary.  I hope our nation’s leaders listen to our families and to the students.  The recent Florida incident requires that we continue to evaluate and update our plans and practices.  It requires time and resources, but I know you agree with me when I say that the safety and security of our students and staff is priority number one.

Sincerely,

Greg Meece
School Director

Thank you Greg Meece for getting this information out.  When it comes to school safety, there should be NO restrictions on keeping children safe.  I’m glad your schools are doing all they can.

Newark Charter School Unprepared For Intruders Since They Aren’t Complying With The Law

House Bill 340, signed by Governor Markell in 2014, demands public schools do at least two intruder/lockdown drills a school year.  But Newark Charter School hasn’t had one this school year or last school year according to sources.  Most schools that have these type of drills tell parents ahead of time.  My own son’s school has.  I’m not sure why Newark Charter thinks they don’t have to conduct these drills.

In the wake of the shooting in Florida last week that caused a former student to go on a rampage and slaughter 17 innocent lives, it is more imperative than ever that our schools are prepared for these type of scenarios.  Delaware’s law concerning these drills is part of the Omnibus School Safety Act.  Schools are required to report these drills to the Delaware Department of Homeland Security.  Do we now need a section of their website with a checklist of each school that complied with the law?  Sounds like it.  What are the ramifications for not reporting or conducting these drills?  Like most in Delaware, probably a phone call.  Sorry, NCS doesn’t get a pass on this no matter how “great” their test scores are!

Carney Cremates Christina

If you thought the arrow Delaware Governor John Carney shot through Christina School District’s heart was bad, you haven’t seen anything yet!  Plans are afoot.  And what will be left standing after Carney does his coup d’état will shock everyone! Continue reading

Baumbach At It Again Trying To Turn Local Issues Into Statewide Legislation

Enough already Paul Baumbach!  In his second attempt at lowering school board terms, State Representative Paul Baumbach filed House Bill #278 yesterday seeking to lower school district board member terms from five years to four years.

In 2015, Baumbach’s House Bill #333, which sought to lower those terms to three years went nowhere.  It was assigned to the House Education Committee but never came up.  Due to heavy resistance to the bill, Baumbach did state he would probably come back with this bill at a later date.  And he did!

Why is Baumbach so adamant about messing with school boards?  Why does he not include charter school boards in this legislation?  The answer is simple: he does not like certain school board members in the Christina School District.  Which is fine and he is certainly entitled to his opinion, but his judgment is impaired when it comes to translating this to a statewide issue.  I get that State Representatives are supposed to represent the district they were elected to, but they also pass laws for the entire state.  It is not beneficial to make local issues a statewide issue.  And once again, we have the very real question about WHO is asking for this legislation and how much of it is directed towards certain board members who frequently and publicly go against bad education policy in the state.

One thing I can say is State Reps in Delaware are elected every two years.  So this is not a case of legislators being hypocritical.  School board members do this because they want to.  It is unpaid and requires a great deal of time and effort to be on a school board.  I don’t think any school board member takes their responsibilities lightly.  I wish more school board members would question things which Baumbach seems to have a problem with.

Yesterday, the News Journal Editorial Team covered the highly inappropriate school board member removal bill that is currently in circulation for sponsorship.  They just so happened to throw in a part about school board member terms:

Also, lawmakers should consider shortening school board members’ five-year terms. Why should they have to face voters less frequently than governors, legislators and mayors?

Come on!  Who are we trying to kid here?  Is the News Journal Editorial Team now a part of Team Baumbach when it comes to this kind of crap?  They just happen to say this on the SAME day Baumbach filed House Bill #282?  I don’t mind term limits for any elected position, but school boards are NOT the same as governors, legislators, and mayors.  There is a learning curve, but there is also the heart of a volunteer.  There are charter school board members who have sat on their boards for over a decade!  But not one word about that from the would-be demolisher of local board control Baumbach or this Editorial Team.  I don’t always agree with some board members out there, but I do not think lowering the term for this function is a good idea at all.

Baumbach needs to re-examine his priorities and actually support the second largest school district in the state instead of trying to interfere with their governance process.  Attending more of their board meetings would be a start.  He wouldn’t dare interfere with Newark Charter School but it’s open target season on Christina.  Could you be less transparent here Baumbach?  Stop listening to the mouths of the few and start coming out with real and meaningful legislation that benefits the state.  This is not good for your political health.

To read Baumbach School Board Terms 2.0, please see below: