Breaking News: School’s Out For Summer! And Spring Too! But There Is A Twist! And Other Tidbits!

My moles across the state are telling me about emails going out to teachers and staff that schools will be physically closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.  This unprecedented and historic move is based on the remaining threat of Covid-19 in Delaware.  At a press briefing today Delaware Governor John Carney, when specifically asked, had not determined the fate of the school year.  But just as that was going on, an email was sent out to Red Clay Consolidated School District teachers and staff about the future: Continue reading

The Reason Delaware Schools Aren’t Closed Yet

There are two major reasons Delaware schools aren’t closing yet.  Equity and special education.  It all comes down to the digital learning environment school kids will be exposed to.  School districts are worried about potential lawsuits.

For special education, federal IDEA law demands students get accommodations for their disabilities in an educational environment if their disabilities interfere with their ability to succeed academically.  With digital learning from home, how would those accommodations happen?  Disability Scoop covered this topic today in an article.

The Education Department said that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act do not specify what should occur if schools are closed for an extended period of time, which is considered more than 10 consecutive days. However, schools should generally offer the same level of services to students with disabilities that they are providing to other children.

As for equity, what about those families that don’t have wifi or bandwidth, or for that matter, computers, for their children to access digital learning from home.  That is a huge concern.  If they don’t receive instruction how can they even grasp educational material?  What happens when the students return and those who were not able to get the digital learning are woefully behind?

These are the concerns the districts are having.  And while we are in a state of emergency at not just the state level but the whole country, it does open up the possibility of litigation.  But what is more important?  Money or the health and well-being of not just students but every single citizen in the state?  With all the ed-tech personalized learning, how did these get-rich quick companies not prepare for a day like this?  But I digress…

So Governor Carney needs to be the one to make the call according to the districts.  But will he?  Or will he leave it up to the districts?  As the risk and danger to Delaware citizens continues.  Don’t believe what the Secretary of Health in Delaware is saying.  About schools being safer.  They aren’t.  It is just a bigger Petri dish.

Meanwhile, parents are left with a choice- do I send my kid to school or not?  Some districts, like Christina, are telling parents they need a doctor’s note in order to have an absence excused.  So some parents are sending kids in whether they are sick or not cause their kid has too many absences already.  It is a dangerous time folks!

 

Glasgow High School & Christina School District In Big Trouble With Delaware DOE Who Fell Asleep At The Wheel And Let It All Happen

In the wake of the IEP scandal at Glasgow High School, ALL of Christina School District is at the mercy of the Delaware Department of Education when it comes to special education.  Following the events concerning fake IEP meetings at Glasgow High School that I published in October, the Delaware Department of Education was forced to act.  But questions linger about how and why the Delaware DOE was unable to find out before they did. Continue reading

2019 September 30th Numbers Show Special Education Is Up But Another Key Demographic Is Decreasing

The Delaware Department of Education released the 2019 September 30th Unit Count report earlier this month.  Special education numbers are rising each year.  This is now the 6th year I’ve written about this report.  This covers everything: special education, demographics of each district and charter school, and enrollment trends in Delaware’s public education.  One of the demographics in Delaware public schools is actually decreasing which came off as shocking to myself. Continue reading

Delaware “Needs Assistance” For Special Education But Most Districts “Need Intervention” According to US DOE

The Office of Special Education Programs at the United States Department of Education released their annual state determinations for special education in public schools.  Their system of rating states and, by default, schools is problematic on its best day.  Far too much emphasis is placed on the state assessment.  In Delaware, that test is the Smarter Balanced Assessment for most students with disabilities.  We all know it is a horrible test but no one seems to want to change it anytime soon.  This is for the Part B determinations.  Part C is for children with disabilities aged 3-5 while Part B is for students in elementary up through 12th grade.

The letters to Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting can be found as follows:

Part B

Part C

You will notice some very distinct patterns in the below local education agency determinations for Delaware.  No traditional school district met requirements.  Those that were labeled as “Needs Intervention” tend to be the larger districts with high pockets of low-income students, minorities, and higher populations of special education students.  All the schools that met requirements only serve high school students.  I take these things with a grain of salt but it is not a state secret that Delaware special education needs a serious overhaul!  As usual, the state education agency, the Delaware Department of Education, is not judged under the same criteria as our districts and charters.  If they were, the Delaware DOE would assuredly need intervention.

MEETS REQUIREMENTS:

Charter School of Wilmington: Meets Requirements

Delaware Military Academy: Meets Requirements

First State Military Academy: Meets Requirements

New Castle County Vo-Tech: Meets Requirements

Sussex Tech: Meets Requirements

 

NEEDS ASSISTANCE:

Academia Antonia Alonso: Needs Assistance

Academy of Dover: Needs Assistance

Campus Community: Needs Assistance

EastSide Charter School: Needs Assistance

First State Montessori Academy: Needs Assistance

Great Oaks Charter School: Needs Assistance

Lake Forest: Needs Assistance

Las Americas ASPIRAS: Needs Assistance

MOT Charter School: Needs Assistance

Newark Charter School: Needs Assistance

Polytech: Needs Assistance

Positive Outcomes: Needs Assistance

Providence Creek: Needs Assistance

Seaford: Needs Assistance

Sussex Academy: Needs Assistance

Thomas Edison: Needs Assistance

 

NEEDS INTERVENTION:

Appoquinimink: Needs Intervention

Brandywine: Needs Intervention

Caesar Rodney: Needs Intervention

Cape Henlopen: Needs Intervention

Capital: Needs intervention

Charter School of New Castle: Needs Intervention

Christina: Needs Intervention

Colonial:  Needs Intervention

Delaware Design Thinking Academy: Needs Intervention

Delmar: Needs Intervention

DSCYF: Needs Intervention

Early College High School: error on web page for letter

Friere Charter School: Needs Intervention

Gateway Lab School: Needs Intervention

Indian River: Needs Intervention

Kuumba Academy: Needs Intervention

Laurel: Needs Intervention

Milford: Needs Intervention

Odyssey Charter School: Needs Intervention

Red Clay: Needs Intervention

Smyrna: Needs Intervention

Woodbridge: Needs Intervention

What The Heck Are Dynamic Learning Maps?

Who comes up with these names? Dynamic Learning Maps? Really?  When the U.S. Department of Education wants Delaware to implement changes, it is up to the Delaware Department of Education to come up with how they do it.  What does Delaware do?  They join a consortium with taxpayer dollars.  We now have the latest from the DOE, Dynamic Learning Maps.  What are they? Continue reading

16 Very Tough Questions With Capital School District About In-School Alternative Placements

A month ago, I posted an article about an In-School Alternative Program the Capital School District Board of Education would be voting on at upcoming board meeting. When I read the contract and heard the board audio recording, I had several questions about the program.  I do understand the Christina School District runs the same program but I had some concerns for it in Capital’s middle schools and high school.  Continue reading

From “Jon’s Loving Father” To Absolute Insanity: The Exceptional Delaware Story

As I delve into year five on this blog, sometimes it is healthy to take a look back at my humble beginnings.  From the crazy legislation I proposed in 2014 to my modern-day attempt to get a Secretary of Education removed from power, it has been a crazy four plus years!  It started out with a plan and turned into so much more! Continue reading

Campus Community Loses Appeal In Federal Court Over Special Education Lawsuit

McAndrews Law Firm, a special education law firm with offices in Delaware, recently won a special education lawsuit that went all the way up to federal court.  I imagine the price tag, once calculated, will be very steep for Campus Community School, a charter school in Dover. Continue reading

Capital School District Board To Vote On Contract For In-School Alternative Program

The Capital School District Board of Education will be holding a special board meeting on August 8th.  Among the few items for consideration is a contract with Pathways of Delaware to run an in-school alternative program in some of Capital’s schools.  The program is meant to prevent expulsions where students are sent to alternative schools.

Whenever I see outside contracts like this, my very first thought concerns students who have special education.  Any contractor would have to follow the student’s IEP just as any district employee would.  This program is not for every student.  It is for students who are simply unable to function within a school for very serious behavior issues.  Alternative placement is very expensive for any district or charter school.

What are your thoughts on this proposal?  In reading the proposal from Pathways of Delaware, they included endorsements from the Christina School District.  Do other districts have this program?

Why Did Delaware Get “Needs Assistance” From The U.S. DOE For Special Education?

Last week, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the United States Department of Education officially released the state determination letters for implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  As I reported earlier this month, Delaware received a rating of “needs assistance”.  In June, I reported the special education ratings for each school district and charter school.  Both articles contain my thoughts on these ratings and how they don’t capture what it needs to.

The US DOE lags two years behind so these findings are based on the 2015-2016 school year in Delaware.  This was the second year of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

As part of their release, the US DOE included documents for each state on how they reached their determination.  Below is the Delaware documents.  Also included are the letters sent for IDEA Part B and IDEA Part C.

U.S. DOE Sued By Special Education Advocacy Group Over Failure To Implement Regulation

According to Disability Scoop, the United States Department of Education is being sued by an organization called the Council of Parents Attorneys and Advocates for delaying a final rule regarding significant disproportionality.

In a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, or COPAA, alleges that the agency is skirting its obligation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to ensure that students with disabilities receive appropriate services no matter their racial background.

The ruling was supposed to go into effect this year but the U.S. DOE delayed it for another two years.  However, this is a part of each school’s matrix for annual determinations for how they are implementing special education.

Despite the delay, states are allowed to implement the new standard if they wish to, the Education Department said, and they are still obligated under IDEA to assess school districts for significant disproportionality.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is named in the lawsuit:

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia names DeVos and Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Johnny Collett in addition to the department itself. It seeks to have a judge invalidate the Department of Education’s delay and reinstate the July 1 start date for the rule.

I seriously wonder why the U.S. DOE would put a delay on a ruling that makes absolute sense.

US DOE Rules Delaware “Needs Assistance” For Special Education

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services for the United States Department of Education came out with their special education ratings for each state on July 5th and Delaware was rated as “Needs Assistance” in special education for IDEA Part B (ages 3 through 21).  For Part C, which covers Birth through Age 2, Delaware was rated “Needs Assistance” for the second year in a row.

While OSERS did not release the letters sent to each state, they did put up a document covering what each state received for their rating.  The individual letters are supposed to be up this month according to their website.

It is hard to give a lot of weight to these rulings by the US DOE.  Most of the ratings are based on standardized test scores.  I broke this down by school districts and charter schools a few weeks ago based on the letters sent to each district or charter by the Delaware Department of Education.  When over 60% of the ratings are based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment or the SAT, by grade, we are failing to properly grade our special education.  Students with disabilities, historically, are the worst performers on these type of tests.  These tests do not give an accurate gage of the ability and knowledge these students need to succeed in school.  While even the education reformers are jumping on the “standardized testing does not show the full picture in education” bandwagon, for the US DOE, the almighty standardized test is the basis of everything.  These tests, based on Common Core, which President Trump swore up and down he would abolish (like he even could if he wanted to).  Furthermore, these ratings are always two years behind.  This current rating is based on the 2015-2016 school year.

Repeat after me, IDEA is more than a standardized test.  IDEA is more than a standardized test.

Once the US DOE releases Delaware’s findings letter I will post it.  Last year we were “Meets Requirements”.  We tend to flip back and forth between “meets requirements” and “needs assistance”.  In 2014 we were rated as “Needs Intervention” which upset me to no end until I found out just how flawed these ratings are.

 

The Discussion About Racism Is Important But So Is The Tone. Tales From A Red Clay Board Meeting.

Last week, at the Red Clay Board of Education meeting, a huge and heated conversation took place about the lack of diversity at Cab Calloway School of the Arts.  It turned into something ugly and what I would not expect from a sitting board member. Continue reading

Delaware School District & Charter School Special Education Ratings Are The Biggest Joke In The State!

How were the Delaware school districts and charter schools rated this year for special education?  Every single one is in here and the joke isn’t even funny anymore! Continue reading

Capital Parents Of Students With Disabilities: Are You Aware Of Parent Councils Mandated By State Law? We Need To Unify Now!!!!

Three years ago today, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed Senate Bill #33 into law.  Among the many changes to Delaware special education, one of the key facets of this legislation was the following:

  • 3125. Parent Councils.

Each school district and charter school enrolling any child with disabilities shall, on an annual basis, contact the parents of each such child to attempt to facilitate the creation and maintenance of a parent council for the parents of students with disabilities. Parent councils will advocate generally for students with disabilities and provide person-to- person support for individual parents and children. The charter schools and school districts shall collaborate and coordinate with existing parent groups and other information and support groups to facilitate creation, maintenance, and effectiveness of the Parent Councils.

While my own son was not in Capital School District when districts and charter schools were required to create the Parent Councils, he was for the 2017-2018 school year.  I contacted the Special Services Office at Capital this morning and was told letters went out to parents about the Parent Councils.  I advised them I never received such a letter.  Apparently there were three meetings during this school year.  The maximum attendance at any of these meetings was eight parents, at the first meeting.  There is absolutely no mention of the Parent Councils anywhere on the district website.  None of their school websites have this information on them either.

I don’t feel we, as parents, should have to wait around for the district to comply to state law.  To that end, I am creating a Capital School District Parent Group and I invite all to attend.  Please email me at kjohlandt70@gmail.com if you interested in joining this group.  Even though it is the summer and our kids are out of school, I believe we should meet and hold discussions on what the district is doing in terms of special education for our children.  Three meetings over one school year is not enough.  I believe we should meet monthly and if warranted to get things going, every other week.  It is also my intention that we should pick a spokesperson for the group to present our findings at each Capital Board of Education meeting each month.  They generally meet on the third Wednesday of each month.  Even if you believe the district is doing everything right, we want to hear from you.  I will also create a Facebook group which will be private so we can discuss things in a private forum.  If you would like to join this Facebook group, please message me on my own personal Facebook profile, under Kevin Ohlandt.

I find it very discouraging that a school district that continually stresses a need for parental involvement can’t proactively advertise for something that is required by state law.  Sending one letter out to parents (which I didn’t even get) for an entire school year is doing the bare minimum.  The United States Supreme Court ruled on a special education case dictating schools must do more than the bare minimum with special education services for students with disabilities.  While that case does not provide a case against Capital not advertising Parent Councils, it does show a consistent pattern in terms of special education.  As a Capital parent, I received robo-calls throughout the year.  Not one robo-call talked about Parent Councils.  My son had many IEP meetings this year.  As well, I was in constant contact with his Principal.  Never once were the Parent Councils mentioned.

I hope to hear from many of you as soon as possible.  For a school district that has 18.3% of their student population designated as Special Education (which means having an IEP) and probably higher due to 504 plans not being listed in that percentage, we need to band together now more than ever.  The district, based on their 2017-2018 student unit count has 1,188 students on IEPs.  8 parents out of 1,188 attended the district’s Parent Council meetings this year.  That is unacceptable and I would hazard a guess most of you did not even know this was an option.

Please share with as many parents of students with disabilities in the Capital School District as you can.  For parents of these students in other school districts or charter schools, please make sure your school or district is following Delaware state law under Title 14 in this area.  Thank you.

Hey Project Veritas, This Is How Our Teacher Union Rolls In Delaware- They Get It Done! Publish That!

A month ago, I posted some articles about a far right-wing group called Project Veritas.  I didn’t know much about them but their videos intrigued me.  I gave the Delaware State Education Association a hard time and that may not have been very fair on my part.  Today, when I read an article by Cris Barrish with WHYY, DSEA President Mike Matthews impressed me a lot!  The article was about Senate Bill 234, which passed the Senate yesterday and will be heard in the House Education Committee in the next few weeks, if not sooner.

Mike Matthews, president of the Delaware State Education Association that represents teachers and other school employees, said crimes and violations like those cited in this article spurred his union’s lawyer to work with state education officials, attorneys and others to craft the legislation.

I remember talking to Mike about some of these horrific crimes that were making the media such as Karen Brooks in Smyrna.  He was as disgusted as I was.  A few years ago, Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf came out with a similar bill but this one was much better.  I firmly believe DSEA’s role in the writing of Senate Bill #234 made it a much stronger bill.

Matthews said the DSEA “strongly supports” the bill because it could prevent the ability of child abusers to “bounce around’’ to different school districts with their teaching license intact while a serious allegation goes through a copious investigative process at the district level. The bill would also provide extensive due process to protect teachers who are unfairly accused by students, parents or other faculty, he said.

Amen Mike!  We don’t want ANY teacher or educator milking the system when they are abusing kids.  My take on teachers like this?  They shouldn’t be anywhere near children or teenagers.  But at the same time, we don’t want to necessarily punish the innocent.  Unfortunately, there have been situations where teachers have been victim to false claims.

“It clarifies the process that I think maybe has been muddied for some time,” Matthews said. “It kind of separates this idea that the employer, the district and board, has to take action before [the state can take action] to revoke or suspend an educator’s license when there are allegations of a serious crime.”

My take on this?  Most districts or charters don’t necessarily want the publicity when things go down.  If there is an arrest, they can’t help it.  What happens when an investigation is a stall tactic?  Forcing the state to take action tells the district or charter- “we know this is going on and we will take action when you won’t!”

“The bill takes necessary steps to remove those educators if there is clear fear of harm coming or having come to a child. I like to believe that like any other profession we are always going to have those who do not represent our profession well and need to be exited when it comes to these allegations and potential crimes.”

A fast exit!

What I didn’t foresee with this bill was how it could affect special education.  Barrish wrote about this aspect of the legislation when discussing the “letters of concern” portion of it.

The bill also has a provision that could apply when the state determines that no violation has occurred which warrants disciplinary action, but that “an act or omission” by the teacher is a “matter of concern.” Such a concern could be that the teacher creates inadequate Individualized Education Programs for students who are identified as in need of special education services.

I have very mixed thoughts on this.  A teacher could write a draft IEP before the IEP team convenes to discuss it.  Putting the onus on a teacher for what could be team decisions is very dangerous.  Yes, the teacher is the one that writes the draft, but the team decides what is final.  Any IEP team should include an administrator (usually the Principal or an Associate Principal), the school psychologist, the school special education coordinator (also called an Educational Diagnostician), the school nurse (unless the parent says it is okay for them not to attend), a special education teacher, and a primary teacher.  And of course the parent or parents.  When students reach 8th grade, they typically attend the IEP meetings as well.  Is one teacher out of a whole IEP team the only one that should get a “letter of concern” if the school winds up getting sued for not following an IEP?  Or writing a bad one?  This could open a huge can of worms.  I have always told parents, do not sign an IEP unless you are satisfied with it.  There is nothing preventing you from doing so.  And if you find the IEP isn’t working, you can always request another IEP meeting to revise it.

Now when it comes to teachers not following very specific parts of an IEP, such as not having the student do every other math problem as an example, that is a different matter.  If a teacher willfully doesn’t follow what is written in an IEP, I can’t defend that.  I may need to see more on this part.  The big question would be what happens if a parent sues a charter or district over special education matters.  Would those “letters of concern” become discoverable evidence?  Would the district or charter put themselves in a position of legal vulnerability?  Or would the special education law firm have to subpoena the Delaware DOE to get those letters?

I’m going to take this time and publicly apologize to Mike Matthews for my Project Veritas articles.  A DSEA email was provided to me the same day I saw Veritas’ videos.  I published it without reaching out to Mike for more information.  I regret that.  While the email didn’t condone the actions of the subject of a Veritas video it didn’t defend it either.  It was simply an internal email warning of potential Veritas spies hoping to entrap teacher union members.  I was harsh on DSEA and I acknowledge that.  Legislation doesn’t happen overnight and I will assume DSEA was working with the Delaware DOE on what became Senate Bill #234 long before the Veritas videos came out in May.  I had no idea Veritas was going to jump on my article and put Mike in the spotlight the way they did.  I remember seeing that video and gasping.  Yes, I published it, but the more I found out about Veritas the more something didn’t seem quite right.

I look forward to Senate Bill #234 becoming the law of the land in Delaware!  And I would hope James O’Keefe who seems to have made it a crusade to go after teacher unions can provide “fair and balanced” coverage to show the good things they are doing.  But knowing O’Keefe, he would probably take the credit for it himself.  That seems to be how he rolls!  He can say what he will about some rogue union leaders out there, but here in Delaware, our union looks out for students as well as teachers!

Kim Williams Reports Delaware JFC Put Funding For K-3 Basic Special Education In The Budget!!!!

Finally!  One of the first things I pushed for on this blog almost four years ago was the funding for students designated as basic special education in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade.  Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams just put the following on her Facebook page:

I am so thankful that the Joint Finance Committee voted to include funding for K-3 basic special education services in the budget. This funding will support necessary services that will help students close learning gaps and move forward to have bright futures.

This has been a true collaborative effort with my colleagues, especially Rep. Smith and Sen. Nicole Poore, my prime Senate sponsor, and I truly appreciate their leadership. These services will become a reality thanks to the advocacy of Delaware State Education Association, parents throughout the state and the many advocates coming together to support our youngest learners. Our children deserve our best efforts to help them learn and succeed through life.

Amen Kim!  As I’ve always said, many kids develop their disabilities in these grades.  Even though schools are obligated by Federal law to provide special education no matter what grade they are in, this obstacle to the funding schools would get sometimes led to students not getting the services they deserve.  In some cases, schools would deny an IEP creating a toxic relationship with parents.  Kim has worked hard for this ever since I met her all those years ago.  She is the best education legislator in the state and she will ALWAYS have my support.

We don’t agree 100% of the time, but I will take those rare times any day because what she has done for Delaware education is nothing short of astounding!  A big thank you to DSEA, Senator Nicole Poore, Rep. Melanie Smith, Delaware PTA, and all the parents who pushed for this as well!

The Delaware Joint Finance Committee put the funding in the budget today.  Of course, the Delaware General Assembly has to approve the budget as a whole by June 30th, but I am confident they will do the right thing with this.  Delaware’s projected surplus for FY2019 went up yesterday as the Delaware Economic Forecast Advisory Committee added $80 million to the surplus.

Updated, 5:32pm: The amount budgeted for the Basic Special Education for students in K-3 is $2.9 million. As well, $3.6 million went in for Reading Specialists for students in Kindergarten to 4th grade. It also looks like $2 million that was cut in last year’s FY2018 budget will be restored for school transportation.

I Hope You’re Happy When The Night Is Over

Today was a perfect day.  Not because it was perfect but because I wanted it to be.  So much of what we are is how we think, our mindset.  To cap off this beautiful day I’m sitting in a lawn chair outside of my townhouse.  There is a slight breeze with a bit of chill to it but it is still warm enough.  The crickets are chirping and the leaves are blowing.  It is May in Dover, finally.

I came into 2018 with the best of intentions.  It was a new beginning in so many ways.  Life has a funny way of reminding you the battles aren’t over.  Some of those skirmishes are tougher than others.  This year’s were tougher than others for some reason.  Those who know me best know how close this one hit.  I could let it knock me down and shatter me.  That would be very easy to do.  But that’s just not who I am.  Everything happens for a reason and it is hard to explain that sometimes.  When the blood is on the field it is hard to show someone a better tomorrow.

Tonight, I am at peace.  It is a beautiful night.  A pizza is on the way which I have relished for some time now.  An episode of The Americans is waiting for me on the DVR.  I cherish the memories I had today with my son.  We had some really good father-son chats.  Both of us had more smiles on our faces today than I’ve seen in a long time.  Tomorrow is a new day.  It might not be as perfect as today, but that’s okay.

I see some of my friends and the struggles they are going through.  I wish I could take their pain and anxiety away.  Their battles are just as real as my own.  I pray they have days like today.  They deserve it.  I want them to be happy.

I heard a new song by the band called Blue October the other day.  Their singer always sings from his soul.  I’ve read a bit about this singer over the years and I know he has gone through many wars.

Just some random thoughts coalescing into a blog post here.  A thought purge.

There will be days when you’re falling down
There will be days when you’re inside out
There will be days when you fall apart
Someone else will break you heart
They’re never gonna hold you back
I’m always gonna have your back
So try to remember that
I hope you’re happy
I hope you’re good
I hope you get what you wish for
And you’re well understood

After I listened to that song, I put my music on a random shuffle.  A new song by a band called Lord Huron came on.  They are an indie band.  The singer reminds me of Jackson Browne.  “When The Night Is Over”.

I feel the weather change
I hear the river say your name
I watch the birds fly by
I see an emerald in the sky

These posts never get a lot of hits.  I’ve been slowing down on here.  I was actually talking to someone about that today, about how you can only write about the same things over and over again.  Legislators, administrators, and charters, oh my!  Things have been quiet as well.  No earth shattering news like there has been in years past.  I’ve been spending a lot of time helping parents with their own special education issues for their kids.  Sidebar conversations.  I still want to be an advocate for parents at IEP meetings and when they have issues going on with schools.  So helping out parents has been very helpful in that regard.  It forces me to learn more.  You can never know everything.  The reality is this: things are chaotic out there.  Things that make me shake my head in disbelief.  Things that should be absolute no-brainers.  It is picking up at an alarming pace.

We all need to recharge our batteries from time to time.  There are some ticking time-bombs I’ll write about soon enough.

Capital School District WILL Have An Operating Referendum In 2019

Capital School District managed to hold off a referendum for the past eight years but that will change in 2019 as they will be going out for an operating referendum.

According to their Chief Financial Officer, Adewunmi Kuforiji, at their March board meeting, the district will hold this referendum next year.  The Capital Board of Education discussed placing school safety monitors (constables) in all of their elementary schools, their 5-6 middle school and hiring a Supervisor to oversee the 19 constables that will be in all their schools.  The price tag for adding these constables? Over $400,000.  Some of the funds would come from federal cafeteria funds.  Since the state does not give that specific funding, the rest would come out of the district’s local funds.  This would be in addition to the five constables in place now, three at Dover High School and two at Central Middle School which serves students in grades 7-8.  The board passed the resolution with three yes votes (two board members were absent).

Board President Sean Christensen asked Kuforiji several times if this action would push the district closer to an operating referendum.  Kuforiji responded it would not as they have room in their FY2018 budget for this along with their reserves.  But he did say, in no uncertain terms, more than once, the district would have an operating referendum in 2019.  He did not say when in 2019.

Nine years is a long time to go without a referendum.  Their last referendum helped to build the new Dover High School and the new district office.

Many in Delaware feel school referenda are outdated and refuse to support them.  Others feel they are a necessary beast in education funding.  Education funding has been a huge topic this year.  Property assessments in Delaware are severely outdated and based on formulas from the 1970s and 1980s.  The state’s education budget has grown over the years but it bounces from education cuts to new initiatives.  In my opinion, it is a very disproportionate system that does not focus on the students but rather the school staff and administrators.  With the exception of special education (and even that is messed up for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade), no extra funding is given based on student needs (poverty, English language learners).  Some support a weighted funding formula while others support adding to the current unit-based system.  Some feel no extra money should go towards public education and actually support school vouchers where the money follows the student, even if it goes to a private school.  How will Dover residents vote next year when their district makes the ask for more taxpayer money?