Christina Board of Education Will Review Superintendent Spending Tonight

The Christina School District Board of Education will review the amount of spending their Superintendent can spend before they have to get board approval at their monthly meeting tonight.  The current limit is $20,000.  Previously, it had been $50,000 but after their second failed referendum attempt in 2015, the board lowered the amount.

$50,000 is a key figure with Delaware Superintendents.  In Delaware code, any contract of $50,000 or more has to go through the request for proposal process in the state.  Many school districts circumvent this by having contracts for $49,000-$49,999.  These kind of budgets can be controversial.  School boards lose some power when the districts write those kind of vendor contracts.

As well, the board is reviewing this type of spending for school principals with another proposal to raise that amount without a signature from $10,000 to $25,000.

With many citizens in Delaware demanding greater transparency of school district funding, this could be seen by those advocates as more continuous evaporation of schools and districts not giving crucial financial information to the public.

The board also has an item on their agenda, if approved, would give the board more ability to participate in legislation and regulations that could affect the school district.  If implemented, this would give a board member the ability to go to Senate and House Education Committee meetings as well as State Board of Education meetings and give public comment on behalf of the board.  The policy would also mandate that any board member speaking about education policy would have to state in public these are individual thoughts and not reflective of the Christina School District of Board of Education.  For the past two years, the board has declined to join the Delaware School Boards Association which usually has their own representative at these types of meetings.

The board will also discuss the upcoming implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act and what that could mean for the district.  I highly recommend board members participate and comment on this confusing legislation and make sure their voice is heard.

The board meeting will be at Gauger-Cobbs Middle School beginning at 7pm this evening.

FISCAL MANAGEMENT POLICY

CONTRACTS & REAL ESTATE POLICY

LEGISLATIVE PARTICIPATION

 

I Still Can’t Agree With Teach For America Getting Paid $125,000 To Do Teacher Leader Prep Programs…

Teach For America, the University of Delaware, and Supporting School Success just began contracts with the Delaware Department of Education for their teacher-leader preparation programs.  The contract began June 1st.  It could just be me, but I see something inherently wrong with using Teach For America to shape the future leaders of education.  If I understand these programs right, the teachers will be out of the classroom a lot, so schools will have to get substitute teachers.

Teach For America is getting $125,000 for their work on this contract, along with the University of Delaware.  The FLEX program, operated by Supporting School Success, is only getting $50,000 for eleven months of work.  Reading state contracts is like reading hieroglyphics, but I can’t really understand why the Teach For America contract is a five-year program that runs out in a year.  Maybe I’m misreading something, but who pays for this after a year?  The district or charter school?  Would those payments go to Teach For America?  Cause I’m pretty sure applicants for these programs have to apply through the Delaware Department of Education unless I’m thinking of some other teacher leader program.  Are districts okay with getting invoices from Teach For America after a year?  If someone could explain all this to me, please let me know.  I’m not sure which program has this, but I did attend a Capital board meeting a few months back where the board approved a couple of schools to take part in this program.  The district explained funds would come out of grants.  Whether those are federal or state, I’m not sure.  But in the end, we all pay for it!

This contract with Teach For America was actually very controversial about ten months ago, but the Professional Standards Board and State Board of Education eventually approved the application.

In the meantime, the contracts for each of the programs are below:

Governor Markell Issues Executive Order To Create Delaware Open Data Portal

MarkellTransparency

Yesterday, Delaware Governor Jack Markell issued Executive Order #57 to make state data more transparent and available to the public.  The Delaware Open Data Council, consisting of the Secretaries of the Delaware’s State Agencies, will make recommendations for what kind of data will be available on this new portal available to the public.  Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky, or his representative, will serve on this council.  These are the kinds of documents I would like to see on this Open Data Portal:

  1. All Delaware Department of Education vendors, contracts, change orders, and funds sent to the vendor.  This would include any and all companies the DOE sends funds to that may not necessarily have a contract, such as The Rodel Foundation of Delaware.  All testing contracts should definitely be on this Open Data Portal.
  2. All documents, including emails, sent to or received from the United States Department of Education.  This would include any ESEA documents.
  3. Any document pertaining to the outflow of student data to any State agency or outside company.
  4. All district and charter school bullying and discipline reports, regardless of the controversial n#.
  5. All DOE and State Board of Education documents, including appendices, going back to the creation of the Department of Education.
  6. Any and all emails, meetings, and documents coming to or from the Delaware Governor’s office in regards to education.

I’m sure I can think of more, but this is just a start.

A few months ago, Delaware came in 49th place in a ranking of Open Government and the ability of states to be transparent.  Markell himself got quite a bit of heat after the disclosure of his private email, the infamous Alan Jackson account.  Delaware citizens should not have to submit FOIAs at their own time and expense to get information that should be readily available to the public.

I also think the General Assembly should have representation on the Open Data Council.  While the House Education Committee is very good about posting minutes of their meetings, the Senate Education Committee doesn’t do it at all.  The public has a right to see this information.

To read Markell’s Executive Order, please see below.