Homeowners Set To Get Screwed With Governor Carney’s “Shared Sacrifice”

Yesterday, the Delaware Economic Forecast Advisory Committee (DEFAC) projected Delaware’s budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2018 to be $395 million dollars.  This is up ten million from the last time the committee met.  Tonight, the Christina Board of Education will discuss the impact on taxpayers.  Governor Carney is suggesting school boards raise what is known as the match tax (the portion the state matches certain funding) by having the district school boards levy the tax without a referendum.

Christina’s Chief Financial Officer, Bob Silber, created an impact budget for how this increase would hit taxpayers.  In the below example, a home that just sold for $224,000 would see their property taxes raised $46.50 with the match tax scenario.  Keep in mind, this is based on the property assessment value of $63,700, which is almost a quarter of the home’s actual value based on the sale price.

This is not the only sting homeowners, as well as all Delaware citizens, will feel starting July 1st.  State taxes, collected from paychecks, will go up for most.  State employees will see higher insurance rates.  Salary raises for state employees will most likely disappear.  Services will be cut.  It is all rather bleak.  Our General Assembly has utilized every single benefit to state funding, such as the proceeds from the tobacco lawsuit, without realizing those perks were eventually going to disappear.  State revenue does not match state expenses.  Companies, such as DuPont and soon Barclays, left Delaware for the most part, causing a severe lack of revenue and jobs.  Delaware has, and will continue to, spend more than it makes.

With the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, there was a request to raise property assessment values.  While Delaware’s assessment values are still far lower than most states, it also created an influx of senior citizens moving to The First State because of that.  But the ability of school boards to raise property taxes, already through the special education tuition tax and soon the match tax, could have a negative impact on the desire of the elderly to move to Delaware or even stay here.

Meanwhile, there has been no action on the Governor’s part to institute the basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade.  State Rep. Kim Williams introduced two bills in the last two General Assemblies to take care of this but neither bill has moved forward due to the state funding issues.  Oblivious to all the future costs by not having this essential funding in place, our state continues to bumble through special education with this very real omission to the foundation of special education students who are just beginning to manifest their disabilities.  The projected amount to fund what should have always been there is a little bit less than $13 million a year.  By not providing that funding, the state relies on the school districts or charter schools to pay for these services.  Either way, it has a negative effect.  If the school does provide those services, it results in more of a drain on local funding.  If the school doesn’t, they are not only breaking special education law if the child qualifies for an Individualized Education Program, but they are also looking at higher costs for that student in the future by not providing that foundation.  So that $13 million a year mushrooms to much higher costs for these students down the road.

Just this morning, State Rep. Earl Jaques announced a new bill on Facebook creating a fund in the Delaware Dept. of Education budget for an Educational Support Professional of the Year award.  Delaware has 16 school districts, 3 vocational districts, and over 20 charter schools.  This bill would allow each district (20, which includes one award for all the charters) to give their winner an extra $1000.00.  The overall winner would get $1,500.00.  While $21,500 in the DOE budget doesn’t amount to much, it is symptomatic of the mindset of far too many of our legislators.  Instead of finding solutions, too many of them find ways to spend even more money.  If our state was swimming in money, I would be okay with this bill.  But not now.

Delaware’s legislature is going to have their hands full when they return from Spring Break next Tuesday.  This budget deficit is not the result of a national recession like what we faced in 2009.  This is Delaware created.  We spent our way out of the recession and now we are paying the piper.  Governor Carney looks like a deer running towards headlights with his reactions to this ever-increasing budget deficit.  I predict he will have a very tough time getting re-elected in 2020 if this trend continues.

Delaware Dept. of Education Requesting 7.7% Increase In Operational Costs For FY2018 Budget

The Delaware Dept. of Education just held their FY2018 budget request hearing with the Delaware Office of Management and Budget.  They are requesting a 7.7% increase over their FY2017 budget.  This would push Delaware public education costs over the $1.4 billion mark to an astonishing $1,485,183,000 which would leave it closer to the $1.5 billion mark.  But just because the Delaware DOE is requesting this it doesn’t mean they are going to get it.  With the state facing a deficit of anywhere from $150 to $300 million for FY2018, many requests by various state agencies won’t be granted.

Among the increases are the following:

$39.838 million for FY2017 Salary/OEC Contingency (benefits)

$9.238 million for Educator Step Increases

$945,100 for Paraprofessional Salary Compression

$12.221 million for 2016-2017 unit growth of 144 units

$16.175 million for General Contingency increase of 190 units

$202,000 for Delmar tuition

$751,200 for related services

$685,600 for academic excellence

$3.9725 million for public school transportation

$602,000 for technology operations (there are three categories under this, I will find out what each one is for)

$7.98 million for Early Childhood initiatives

$3 million for public education bandwidth

$1 million for Technology Block Grant

$1.75 million for one-time replacement of DEEDS

$473,000 for technology operations for district/charters for

$219,500 to replace federal funds for personnel costs

$2.7 million for World Language Immersion expansion

$1.2 million for Teacher Leader Pilot expansion

$25,000 for Professional Standards Board

$18,000 for increases in Schoology

$500,000 for Seed Scholarships

$2.4 million for public school transportation

$500,000 for Career Pathways

 

They are also looking to made reductions of $4 million to the following:

$50,000 from SEED/Inspire marketing

$2.52 million from K-12 Pass Through Programs

$113,000 for Tech-Prep 2+2

$150,000 from Prison Education

$1.2 million from Driver Training

 

The Dept. of Education is also requesting $920,000 for Major Capital FY2018 Certificate of Necessity requests.  $633,745 of that would come from the state share and $286,862 would come from the Local source of funding.  I will have more to write on this later based on the presentation given.

 

 

 

 

Delaware Principals & Assistant Principals: Which Districts Pay The Big Bucks?

In Delaware, most schools in our districts have a Principal and an Assistant Principal.  Some schools have two Assistant Principals.  For those schools, you can be looking at over $300,000 in annual salaries between the three positions in some situations.  As the Delaware Department of Education guides teachers into accepting “Teacher-Leader” roles, I have to wonder what the end goal is.  Eventually, the role of the classic teacher will be greatly diminished if the current trends in personalized learning continue.  I predict more seasoned teachers will leave the profession because of this.  Is this why we are seeing this big push for more leaders?  Will we see more teachers with a background of Teach For America and Relay Graduate School of Education infiltrate school leadership roles?

In this round of “Delaware Education Funding”, I just looked at traditional school district Principals and Assistant Principals, not the charter schools.  For the very simple reason that only about a 1/3rd of the charters put this role in that category on Delaware Online Checkbook.  The other charter leaders are spread out over many coded categories and it is very hard to know what is what.  But I will get to them, I promise!  These are by district only, not by school.  Exact Principal and Assistant Principals are not readily available unless a newspaper does a story about state employee salaries over $100,0oo.00.

FY2016PrincipalSalariesTotal

This chart shows the total Principal salaries for each school district in FY2016.  For the most part, it follows the total student population of each district with a few exceptions.  What surprised me the most was Capital’s slot on the chart which will become clear in the below picture.  In Delaware, Principal units are also based on the student count as of September 30th of each year, just like teachers.  This provides the state share of principal salaries, so anything left comes from local funds collected through property taxes of the citizens in that district.

FY2016DistrictPerStudentCosts Principals

Seaford is way up on this chart when the total principal salaries are divided by the number of students in the district.  And as predicted, Capital seems to pay their Principals a lot more than other districts based on this chart.  Red Clay, like the previous picture, takes the top spot.  This does not include the principal salaries from the charters within their district that they are the authorizers of.  This chart does not follow student population at all.

FY2016AssistantPrincipalSalariesDistricts

Assistant Principals in Delaware can be just as important as Principals.  In many schools, they handle more of the discipline issues and frequently serve as the school administrator for IEP meetings.  We see, mostly, the same pattern as Principals with overall salaries following the student populations.  Notable exceptions are Cape Henlopen, New Castle County Vo-Tech, and Polytech.  Once again, Seaford is a bit ahead based on their student population compared to the districts two slots below them.

FY2016AssistPrinSalariesPerStudentDistrict

When it comes to per student cost for Assistant Principals, two of the vocational districts leap to the top.  Christina falls to the middle.  We see, on this chart, more of an indication of the economic levels of the citizens within these districts.  Aside from Seaford and Woodbridge, most of the districts near the bottom are in Sussex County.

FY2016CombinedPrin&AssistDistrictSalaries

I wanted to see what happened with these numbers when I combined both the Principal and Assistant Principal salaries. It is almost exactly in line with the first graph for the Principal salaries.

FY2016CombinedPerStudCostPrin&AssistPrin

For the money, it appears New Castle County Vo-Tech is the go-to district if you want to be an administrator at a school, followed closely by Red Clay and Brandywine.  With NCC Vo-Tech at $461 a student for combined Principal and Assistant Principal salaries and Sussex Tech at $224 per student, there sis a world of difference between the two vo-techs in our state.  But once again, money does not always equal quality and performance.  But higher needs can.  Keep in mind, the vo-techs are given a by-line item in the state budget as their funding source.  Are the vo-techs getting favorable treatment with this budget method?  It depends on which county!

As with many situations with school districts, the more buildings you have, the higher the costs to run them.  I see definite trends with these towards socio-economic levels for the three counties in Delaware when you take the vo-techs out of the picture.  This makes sense because a referendum can decide what type of funds school boards can spend on administrators in schools.  This is very different from district administrators, which will be coming soon.  That one will be more complex and may need some outside help on my part.

Delaware DOE By The Numbers: Where Does The Money Go?

Aside from the Division of Health & Human Services, the Delaware Department of Education is the second biggest expense in Delaware.  So what do they spend all that money on?  For Fiscal Year 2015, the DOE spent the below funds in many different areas.  This is all based on figures from Delaware Online Checkbook.  Their biggest expense should not be a surprise, but some others may very well surprise you.

Association Dues and Conference Fees: $723,107.30

Auditor of Accounts (Dover): $31,387.00

Casual and Seasonal Salaries: $56,346.95

Common Carrier In State: $995.30

Common Carrier Out of State: $115,152.39

Computer Equipment Software: $12,604.76

Computer Services: $5,289,454.15

Computer Supplies: $336,305.01

Consultants: $1,501,789.18

Council of Chief State School Officers: $242,166.00

Delaware Teacher Corps: $273,500.77

Employee Charitable Contributions: $14,873.86

Employee Compensation (funds sent to schools to pay for staff): $1,990,812,872.14 editor screw-up, to be determine, but will fix.  Thanks to Avi with Newsworks for pointing out my colossal error!

Employee Garnishments: $37,292.95

Employee Recognition: $786.75

Employee Union Dues: $15,343.57

Federal Grant Returns: $23,690.00

Fleet Rental: $112,402.55

Food (not food sent to schools, spent using purchase cards): $7,580.55

Food Service: (funds sent to Delaware schools, including many private schools, for food) $64,911,964.82

Freight: $63,913.47

Governor’s Workforce Development Grants: $1,181,672.54

Grants: $16,738,068.65

Grants In Aid: $363,923.00

Health Insurance Employers SH (within DOE): $2,593,414.63

Indirect Cost (within DOE): $207,736.63

Instructional Supplies: $1,936,082.17

Legal Services: $29,375.16

Lodging Out of State: $111,126.96

Lodging In State: $4,711.40

Meals Out of State (within DOE): $21,052.65

Meals In State (within DOE): $7,972.60

Mileage Out of State (within DOE): $9,380.23

Mileage In State (within DOE): $39,623.76

National Association of State Directors: $26,634.00

Office Equipment: $32,713.99

Office Supplies: $559,922.49

Other Professional Service: $36,767.871.52

Other Rental (i.e. Dover Downs): $1,008,787.95

Other Travel In State: $3,100.19

Other Travel Out of State: $23,795.68

Pension Employer’s Share: $4,748,014.37

Postage: $30,628.44

Printing and Binding: $89,092.20

Promotional Supplies: $21,118.21

Salaries Wages-Employees (DOE Employees): $23,020,983.56

Stipends: $2,215,942.96

Telecommunication: $122,059.00

Temporary Employment Services: $256,645.73

Termination Salaries/Sick Leave: $116,839.20

Termination Salaries/Vacation: $238,417.97

Training: $695,165.98

Training Supplies: $31,246.75

Transportation Equipment (funds for actual buses): $3,337,161.00

Tuition Out of State or Private (residential treatment centers, typically, DOE pays 70% and districts pay 30%): $4,721,434.89

Wages To Inmates (Special Needs Programs): $35,797.51

Workmen’s State Compensation: $375,175.01

This is your taxpayer dollars at work!  The biggest expense is salaries for teachers, administrators, and staff at the public schools of Delaware (doesn’t include private schools), and after that it is funds for food at schools.  Some of these expenses are paid through federal dollars, but the bulk of them are paid through the state.

Some of my favorites in here are the Council for Chief State School Officers, nearly a quarter of a million dollars for the Mark Murphy club.  As well, the employee recognition doesn’t even break the four figure mark.  That says something right there!  But then again, it’s not like the employees are giving back that much as their employee charitable donations are less than .001% of their salaries.  Yes, they could be giving outside of their paycheck, but geesh!  The one that probably shocked me the most was their “rentals” of over $1 million dollars.  I know they use Dover Downs a lot for their different banquets and award dinners and Common Core Pep Rallies, but that is a lot of coin.

The biggest wastes would appear in “consultants” and “other professional services”.  A consultant is just that, but other professional services can be just about anything.  This where the bulk of their vendor costs get sucked up.  It is very telling that they spend more on outside sources than in house.  I’ve been told this is to remove bias on important projects, but come on!  We all know the bias of the companies they contract with.  Most are full-fledged education reform companies!  I think for funds totaling over $36 million dollars, it should be broken down more, by vendor and what they do.  Should a vendor be a consultant on other matters at the DOE?  Do we even know what the difference is?

This is not every cost at the DOE, but these are the main ones.

Mapleton Charter School At Whitehall Performance Award Application

Have I ever written about this school?  I don’t think so.  It sounds like a private school for really rich kids with that name! Another charter scheduled to open up in 2016, looking to fund their head of school positions through a performance fund, but only for one year!  I really need to open up a charter school.  I’ll call it the Exceptional Delaware Institute for Easy Money!

I get the whole concept of start-up costs, but to rely on those funds coming out of a free program from the state is not wise for any business, much less a school.  With ten applicants, nine of which have a shot (more on that later), those aren’t the greatest odds to pay for salaries.  But what do I know?  I’m just a blogger…

Las Americas ASPIRA Academy Charter School Performance Award Application

The LAAA school as they are commonly known (okay, I’m just too lazy to type it again) wants $250,000 to hire special education teachers for a “co-teaching” environment.  While I love any school beefing up their special education department, I have to ask why they haven’t had them for six years, and how will they budget this in other years?  And don’t schools get IDEA-B funding for this very purpose?  If they have 100 students on IEPs, where is the portion of that allocated to those teachers going?  Hmm…paging the Exceptional Children Resources Group at the DOE….

So they want $235,795 for four special education teachers which amounts to an average salary of $58,948.75.  And what is the going rate for special education teachers in Delaware?  The median range is $55k, so they are close to the target, but I would have to think the funds for that would come from other funds already allocated to the school when it comes to special education.

And here we have another charter school that made $283,000 from the charter school transportation slush fund over a two year period!

Delaware STEM Academy Charter School Performance Fund Application

I’m just going to say this right off the bat.  I take great issue with this school being eligible for the Charter School Performance Fund when they aren’t even scheduled to open until August 2016!  The best part: they want this award so they can pay their Chief Academic Officer and Executive Director their first year!  Doesn’t that already come out of state-allocated funds?  As well, how can they select all staff by May 2016 if they don’t hit their enrollment figures by June 2016?  And don’t they have to be at their enrollment figures by April 1st, 2016?

This one just has a big huge question mark all over it.  I would deny this one DOE…