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
I have officially seen it all! Kuumba Academy in Wilmington is planning on having students do a presentation to Capital One to raise money for a playground. Meanwhile, their enrollment has dropped by a fairly big percentage. Continue reading
As of Thursday, August 30th, Director of Operations Herb Sheldon has been placed on leave until further notice at Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security. The notice to staff did not indicate whether it is a paid or an unpaid leave. Continue reading
Talk about the last minute! If the Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security did not have a student enrollment of 200 students by tomorrow, their charter would have been revoked. They hit that number so they have met their first condition of their probation. Under 200 students would have meant the school would not have been financially viable as a non-profit public school. This is “unofficial” but I am hearing this from excellent sources so I don’t doubt the viability of this claim at all.
I don’t ever wish to see any school closed unless there is some unbelievable egregious stuff going on there (case in point: Delaware Met). I sincerely hope the school can meet the rest of their probation conditions over the coming year or so. The whole point of any school is the success of the students. I do wonder what schools won’t have these students next year. Are they coming from districts or other charters or a combination of the two? That is school choice for you and at the end of the day it is a parent’s decision!
Ten days. That will make all the difference for the Wilmington charter school. If they don’t get 24 students to apply AND commit to the struggling charter school, they will have their charter revoked at the end of this school year.
It was just last month that Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security narrowly missed getting shut down by the Delaware State Board of Education. But the conditions mounted against them could kick in charter revocation at any time if they failed to comply. The very first condition was the school must have 200 students by May 1st.
Last night, at the State Board of Education meeting, Denise Stouffer from the Charter School Office updated the board on DAPSS’ probation. To date, they had 176 students enrolled for next year. They need another 24 in the next ten days or they are toast. That includes commitment letters signed by parents. They could still reach that number but it would be very tough. Their enrollment number has not gone up much since the State Board rendered their decision last month.
Ten days. For 176 students already enrolled for next year, this could be problematic for them come June 29th if the charter for DAPPS is revoked. These students and their parents or guardians will be forced to find a new school for the 2019-2020 school year. Do they start looking if the school doesn’t meet their numbers by May 1st or wait to see what happens over the next few months?
After weeks of work, all of the Delaware Public Education salaries over $100,000 have been posted with a few exceptions. Those are four charter schools who either did not respond or will in the next couple of days. But there is more than enough data to make some sense out of all this. Many asked why I was posting these. There were several reasons: requests, comparisons, money tracking, and general curiosity. But the main reason was to see if I could answer the age-old question- “Are there too many administrators?” Finally, I am prepared to answer that. Continue reading
New Castle County Vo-Tech School District has a lot of very high-priced administrators in their district. Their leader, Dr. Victoria Gehrt, is the second highest paid Superintendent in the state. Their enrollment has gone up in the past four years by over 168 students but they have eight less administrators making over $100,000. What is very interesting with them is their Assistant Principals seem to begin in the $120,000 range, which is significantly higher than the rest of the state. All of their Principals are in the $140,000 range. This is what happens when the General Assembly approves a line-by-line budget as they do with all the vocational districts in Delaware. I do get that all of their schools are high schools and those usually require Assistant Principals. It just seems way out of proportion when compared to other districts. Of note is the fact they do not appear to have an Assistant Superintendent so perhaps that is a wash. Continue reading
Three more charter schools. Two in New Castle County, one in Kent. One centers around Spanish language skills. Another is a special education theme. One originally began with a theme of zero tolerance with school discipline but changed its tune. One had a ruckus last fall when their school leader was placed on leave because he wanted more pay for teachers. Continue reading
Delaware has three vocational districts, one for each county. For this post, I’m combining Polytech (Kent) and Sussex Tech (Sussex). Both have fixed enrollments. In fact, Sussex Tech got in trouble a few years ago for going over that fixed amount of students. The key difference in funding between the vo-techs and the districts and charters is the Delaware General Assembly sets their budget in line-by-line items in their annual budget. As well, their boards are appointed by the Governor of Delaware. Their salaries can be higher than the districts around them in certain areas. And what is up with Sussex Tech’s former Superintendent still making the big bucks? Isn’t he former? Oh yeah, he’s been on paid leave since last June because of inappropriate land deals down there according to the Cape Gazette. Do these two schools really need this many administrators? Continue reading
The last of the traditional school district, Woodbridge School District is another one of the “cross-county” districts. They are a growing district. They also have a Superintendent with a name that sounds like a movie star: Heath Chasanov. I’ve written a billion of these salary posts so I feel I ‘m allowed a bit of humor as I approach the finish line. But I digress. Woodbridge is also home to someone I admire, Michele Marinucci. The district’s special education coordinator, along with State Rep. Kim Williams, got the Special Education Strategic Plan formed into a cohesive committee that is doing great things for special education in Delaware. Chasanov has been commended by the Delaware Dept. of Education for the district’s growth on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Not my cup of tea, but it keeps them in the spotlight. Continue reading
Smyrna and Clayton are very tight-knit communities. Many in the Smyrna area will tell you the Smyrna School District runs the town. Whether that is true or not, one thing is true: Superintendent Patrik Williams certainly runs his schools! By keeping administrative costs down, he runs a tight ship. While Smyrna is not the fastest growing area in the state, it is certainly growing. Smyrna’s biggest competition is local charter schools Providence Creek Academy and First State Military Academy, both in Clayton. The district has grown modestly by about 200 students in the past four years. Last year, former Superintendent Deborah Wicks retired. The one thing about Smyrna that troubles me to no end is their very high expulsion rates. They are the highest in the state. Last year they had 30 expulsions. To me, that is zero tolerance. Something we should be getting away from. It is rumored Smyrna does this so they can pay for pre-paid spots at Parkway Academy. While this hasn’t been made official, it makes sense in a bizarre way. The State Board of Education sees more expulsion appeals come from Smyrna over any other district or charter school. There is a reason for that. Williams is a pretty funny guy once you get to know him. Continue reading
The Seaford School District lies on the western edge of Sussex County. The district hovers around the just below 3,500 mark most of the time. Even though their enrollment is the same, they have two more administrators making over $100,000 than they did four years ago. Like their neighbor to the south, Laurel, they have a high percentage of low-income students and English Language learners. The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission brought up both of these districts many times in their reports on Delaware public schools. Seaford reminds me of the school district I grew up in with its make-up four elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. But that’s where the similarities end. My school district was about 3/5ths the size of Seaford. Which means they have a lot of kids in their buildings. Continue reading
Red Clay Consolidated School District has become a cash cow.
I thought I had a general idea of my overall theory of school administrators in Delaware. Red Clay was the last to respond to my FOIA request with their numbers. I sat for a good ten minutes just staring at what they sent me. While Christina and Red Clay have the exact same amount of administrators, Christina has more schools AND holds statewide programs like the Delaware Autism Program. Both have 93 administrators. But in reviewing Red Clay’s, along with some of the titles, I was utterly shocked. They have individual supervisors for each core subject, personnel specialists, and program coordinators. Continue reading
The Milford School District is one of the few districts in Delaware that lies in two different counties. For Milford, both Kent and Sussex County have parts of the district. As a result, their tax pool is different. A couple of years ago, Milford, like many other districts, had to raise their tuition tax. This is a portion of property taxes the public does not get a vote on. The money is for special education costs. Milford raised their tuition tax considerably and the public got sticker shock when they opened their tax bill. As a result, it forced the district to become very frugal with their spending. The district has the second lowest amount of administrators over $100,000 based on their student count. New Superintendent Kevin Dickerson inherited the previous Superintendent’s mess but is doing a decent job of putting the district back on solid ground. The district has 104 less students than they had four years ago and three less administrators making over $100,000. Continue reading
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.
One of the southernmost districts in Delaware, Laurel school district’s population is increasing at a modest rate. But it also has a very large percentage of low-income students. As well, they are dealing with a fast growing population of English Language learners. Many districts in western Sussex county face the same issue with property assessments bearing a large burden on local taxpayers. The way the system was set up decades ago has winners and losers. For Laurel property owners, they lose big. As a result, the district is forced to tighten their money belt the same time their population is growing. Four years ago, only the Superintendent made over $100,000, now there are five. Continue reading
Lake Forest School District is in the northern part of Sussex County. Student enrollment hovers around the 3,800 mark each year. New Superintendent Brenda Wynder faces many of the same challenges other districts face in Sussex based on property assessments being among the lowest in Delaware. As a result, the district only has 12 administrators making over $100,000. Continue reading
Indian River School District, located in central Sussex County, has the least amount of administrators per student out of all the school districts in Delaware. The district has 1,000 more students than they did four years ago. With a growing population and over 10,400 students in the district, Indian River had to cut back on administrators back in the Fall of 2016 to avoid the state having to bail them out during a financial crisis. Their former leader, Susan Bunting, is now the Delaware Secretary of Education. Mark Steele leads the district now and has to deal with doing more with less. Compared to similar districts with student enrollment at that size, such as Appoquinimink and Brandywine, Indian River runs a tight ship these days. Indian River has a large number of English Language learners in the district and with a current lack of extra funding for those students, it can be tough. The district faced an investigative audit by the State Auditor’s Office at the same time they tried to pass a referendum. While the referendum did eventually pass, it caused the district to get their finances together fast!
The smallest school district in Delaware! Delmar is a very interesting district because it shares schools with another state, Maryland. As a result, students spend their school years in two states. I’ve never understood how or why the thing went down like it did. As a result, they run a tight ship and don’t go hog-wild on administrators. There are only three administrators making over $100,000 which is the same as four years ago. Their enrollment ebbs and flows around the 1,300 mark year after year. The Delaware side of the district has the middle school and high school while Maryland has the elementary schools. Continue reading