Which districts and charters saw big jumps with student enrollment? Which went down? What is the state of special education in Delaware? What key demographic is rising at a fast rate which contributes significantly to the budget woes in our state? Which charter school, based on their current enrollment, should no longer be considered financially viable and should be shut down? What is the fastest-growing sub-groups in Delaware? And which cherry-picking charters continue to not serve certain populations? Continue reading
While this was not a whole-scale investigation like some recent district or charter school audit reports, the Auditor of Account’s report on the Statewide Unit-Count Agreed Upon Procedure between the Cape Henlopen School District and the Delaware Department of Education did show some flaws in the system. State Auditor Tom Wagner released the report today.
Out of the five schools that were selected for the audit, representing audits of 114 students, six students were included in the unit count that should not have been, two from Milton Elementary School and four from the Sussex Consortium. As well, all five of the schools did not properly maintain their official Unit Count file as required by state law. The Auditor has no capability or authority to mete out any consequences to the district. But the report is sent to the Offices of the Governor, Attorney General, Controller General, and the Office of Management and Budget.
Tom Wagner, the elected Delaware State Auditor, issued a new September 30th inspect report from his office today. The original report, issued on May 4th of this year, was conducted by Kathleen Davies who was put on leave in Mid-May. Oddly enough, this report does not even appear on the state website but this was emailed to many state employees and legislators this morning.
I am presenting both the new report and the original so readers can compare the two.
To view the original point, go below:
In comparing the two documents, there are significant changes. Missing in the new report is a letter from Thomas Wagner to Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky. In the new report there is a new Appendix where the auditor’s office gave each charter school or district that received a finding to respond to the initial report issued on May 4th. There are key edits of certain sections. Especially when it revolves around the Delaware Department of Education. The changes appear to fluff up the DOE in certain instances. Almost as if the DOE had editing power over an audit approved by the State Auditor.
I resent this whole new report and the attempt to demean Kathleen Davies. No logical explanations have been provided by anyone on her situation. This smear campaign by the State Auditor’s office and the Office of Management and Budget needs something more than some bogus explanation provided by Ann Visalli. Wagner needs to step up for his employee who did her job faithfully for many years. Instead, just this new report alone looks like he is majorly kissing up to the Delaware DOE, led by Secretary Godowsky, who serves at the pleasure of Governor Markell.
Okay, maybe the last article wasn’t as top-secret as I thought, but I’m willing to bet this one is! This was sent to me anonymously today. Apparently it was sent out to the legislators in the House of Representatives from State Rep. Melanie Smith who is also the Chair of the Joint Finance Committee. It is the Delaware Joint Finance Committee’s take on the Delaware DOE’s state budget hearing that took place last Wednesday, February 17th.
Department of Education
Under the recommended school district operations budget, the budget request included reallocating money from the General Contingency (not new money) as well as additional funding (new money in this year’s budget) to cover actual unit growth for the 15/16 school year. The budgeted unit growth was 110 while the actual unit growth is 188. When questioned about the difference in the budgeted amount versus the actual amount, Secretary Godowsky explained that the increase was not due to an unprecedented influx of students, but rather an increase in the number of students being identified as having special needs. Out of the 1,075 new students, 848 were identified as having special needs, dictating a higher than expected unit count. The number also includes special needs students who are not new to the public school system, but entered 4th grade and began receiving more comprehensive special education. Secretary Godowsky told the committee that the Department had hired UD to do a study on this recent trend so that they can better understand whether this pattern is the “new normal.”
The committee deferred discussion of the $6M in the Governor’s recommended budget for the WEIC plan until after learning the result of Thursday’s State Board of Education meeting.
$4M was requested in the Governor’s recommended budget to support the Teacher Compensation committee’s recommendations to increase entry level salaries for teachers, a pilot for teacher-leader roles, and to provide stipends for educators who attain National Board Teaching Certification. It was noted that the committee’s recommendations are not final yet and that the changes are contingent upon legislation being enacted.
The committee also heard a presentation from Susan Perry-Manning, the Director of the Office of Early Learning within DOE. The presentation advocated for the $11.335M in the Governor’s recommended budget to replace the expiring federal Early Learning Challenge Grant with state general fund dollars. Most of the funds would go towards purchase of care reimbursements. Director Perry-Manning noted that the amount requested from the state is significantly less than the federal grant amount.