The DOE Financial Transparency Gambit Brings Out Tons Of Public Comment

Last month, the Delaware Department of Education held a series of Community Conversations surrounding the mandates of Senate Bill #172.  The legislation requires the DOE to come up with a uniform method of allowing the public to compare finances between schools.  It is a cumbersome and large task.  It is also required by the Every Student Succeeds Act.  The DOE solicited public comment and boy did they get it!

I still go with the “every penny” scenario.  As in, I won’t be satisfied until we can see how every penny in public education is spent.  I’m pretty sure the folks at Rodel and DelawareCAN already have their claws into this and will make sure whatever comes out fits their own agendas.

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It Is Time For DSEA To Regurgitate Themselves From The Bowels Of Rodel

I warned them.  Many times.  Sit at the table and you will be on the table.  The Delaware State Education Association was swallowed whole.  By who? Continue reading

DOE Develops A Case Of Pretendonitis With Education Funding Transparency Meeting

The Delaware Department of Education held their first public meeting for Senate Bill #172 which is supposed to show clear transparency with education funding so people can compare how much schools are spending compared to other schools.  The poorly attended event, filled with the usual stakeholders and barely anyone from the general public, showcased a Department that really doesn’t know what this bill means or what they plan to do with it.  In other words, they have a scorching case of pretendonitis. Continue reading

The Heat Is On At The Delaware DOE Building Tomorrow! Time To Fix Their Mess And Make Some Noise!

Tomorrow night, the Delaware Department of Education will hold the first meeting on education funding.  More specifically, cleaning up the hot mess where you can’t really tell how over a billion dollars in taxpayer dollars is spent.  The meeting is tomorrow (Monday) from 5-7pm at the Townsend Building in the 2nd Floor Cabinet Room.

I’ve been pushing for more transparency with this for years.  I love how the DOE ignores a federal mandate that passed in 2015 and waits three years to do something about it.  Here is the problem- none of our districts and charters code things the same way.  It makes it impossible to accurately compare.  One district may put something as “maintenance” while a charter school puts it as “operational costs”.

Nothing will satisfy me until there is a uniform coding structure for EVERYTHING.  That is the only way we can unravel what appears to be a Gordian knot.  And EVERYTHING has to be published in a clear and concise manner so people can understand it.  The current Delaware Online Checkbook is useless.  By the time you can figure the damn thing out it either freezes on you or you give up.

Senate Bill #172 is the state version of what the Every Student Succeeds Act already requires.  But it isn’t what is needed.  It would help a little bit but not the massive change that is needed.  My sense is the DOE already knows what they want and they are just putting on their dog and pony show to say the people wanted what they already want.  Seen it many times folks!  Don’t be fooled.  To read the final version of SB #172 with amendments, read here.  There should be NO exclusions when it comes to transparency of taxpayer dollars.  It is past time The First State became #1 with transparency.

If you have the means and the time, I would get there.  Sign up for public comment and just go for the throat.  Tell them you want to see every penny accounted for, by school and NO EXCEPTIONS!  You get five minutes for public comment so make it count!  This is what the DOE is looking for from the public according to their post on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar:

The Department of Education will develop a standardized approach with input from district/charter leaders and other community members. To that end, three public meetings are scheduled for this fall so DOE can share its vision and hear from members of the public. Public comment will be limited to five minutes per person; DOE will accept written comments at any of the meetings or via email by Friday, October 12th to jennifer.roussell@doe.k12.de.us.
Both the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Senate Bill 172, passed by the 149th General Assembly this spring, require the development of a statewide approach to define and report school-level expenditures so school leaders and the public can better compare per-pupil spending across Delaware. The Department of Education (DOE) will begin reporting school-level per-pupil expenditures in Dec. 2019.

Governor Carney Embarking On Massive Two-Day Bill Signing Marathon

According to Governor Carney’s public schedule, he might get some blisters on his fingers from signing so many bills.  Tomorrow and Wednesday he will be signing 29 bills at various times of the day.  In the education world, two big bills will get the ink.  The long awaited House Bill #292 which makes drastic changes to the Delaware Autism Program will finally become law.  Another big one is Senate Bill #172 which takes steps to improve transparency in education funding.  It doesn’t go far enough in my opinion.  Nothing will until the public can see where every penny in public education goes.

To see the 29 bills being signed and what they are about, please see below. Continue reading

Attorney General Opinion Highlights Need For More Accurate Accounting For Education Funding

Allison Reardon, the State Solicitor for the Delaware Department of Justice, wrote a legal opinion on a Freedom of Information Act complaint last week.  Even though DOJ ruled the complaint was not a FOIA violation, the answer from Christina School District shows Delaware seems woefully lost in terms of being able to decipher education funding. Continue reading

Teacher License Suspension and Pay For Success Bills Pass General Assembly

Two bills closely tied with public education passed in the Delaware House of Representatives today which clears them through the General Assembly and await Governor Carney’s signature.  Another bill passed but goes back to the Senate due to an amendment.

Senate Bill #234, which gives the Delaware Secretary of Education the ability to suspend a teacher’s credentials due to an arrest from abuse or other egregious crimes, passed the House with a 41-0 vote.  As written in the synopsis of the bill, this will… “include situations involving felony crimes against children or where there is a clear and immediate danger to student safety or welfare“.

Senate Bill #242, which will establish Pay for Success programs in Delaware passed with 39 yes, 1 no, and 1 absent.  The sole no vote belonged to State Rep. Rich Collins.  An amendment placed on the bill in the Delaware Senate would create a working group to explore how Pay For Success would be implemented in public education, both early childhood education and K-12 education.  I am still torn on Pay For Success but this would allow some time for the Working Group to really take a look at how this would work to make sure it didn’t conflict with existing federal laws (such as IDEA) and to set up parameters.  Pay For Success is where an outside investor would come in, pitch a program with measurable outcomes, and if approved, would set out on this program.  If the program works with those outcomes, the State would pay the company back.  If it doesn’t, they wouldn’t.  The bill sets up Pay For Success for all state agencies.

Senate Bill #172, which is meant to increase the transparency of education funds, passed the House but an amendment clarifying some language on the bill which causes it to go back to the Senate for a final vote (provided they don’t put any amendments on it).  That bill passed in the House with 41 yes votes.

On the Senate side, they passed House Bill #268 which deals with Senior property tax credits, but due to an amendment placed on the bill in the Senate, it will go back to the House.

Finally, Delaware Governor John Carney signed both the budget bill and a bill giving one-time bonuses to state employees and retirees.  Both the Bond bill and the Grant-In-Aid bill will come up for a vote on the last day of the Delaware General Assembly, Saturday June 30th.