Just One Question

shutterstock_27866770What do you want your public schools to be?

We know public school student achievement isn’t what it should be or could be in Delaware.  We know about the rising influence of charter schools.  But what do we know about making changes to our public schools to improve student achievement?  What should we emphasize?  What should we keep, what should we remove, what should we start doing?  What do you want your public schools to be?

Tonight was the first public workshop for the Christina School District on the subject of an operating referendum (a special election held to approve tax increases to bring in more funding for the schools),  Expect to hear more about it at the upcoming Board of Education public meeting on November 18th.  There was great discussion from members of the District administration, Board of Education, and the Citizens Budget Oversight Committee.  In brief we know the following:

Timeline

  • In order for our schools to see any increase in funding for the next school year (2015-2016), the special election must be held prior to July 1, 2015.  Doing so allows the county to adjust the tax rates to collect the funding.
  • Holding the election early in the year (no later than March) allows for a “mulligan” if it does not pass.  90 days must pass between special elections.  If the election were held in February, and it failed, another election would be able to be held in May or June (prior to the July 1 deadline to see more funding for the 2015-2016 school year)
  • February or March 2015 would be the best bet for when to hold the special election.

Wishlist

  • Our schools need more money.  But what will be done with the money?  We were able to generate a “wishlist” of priorities for our children and their schools, not only to keep the students we have but to recruit new students to Christina.

One thing that was missing from tonight’s meeting?  You.  Your voice.  Your thoughts.  As a taxpayer, your voice counts just as much as anyone else’s and tonight, your voice was missing.  Our public schools can’t be their best without support from the public.  We need your help and your input.  Attend the next Board of Education meeting on November 18th. Attend the next referendum workshop (date: TBD)!  Contact your Board of Education members, sharing your thoughts and ideas (remember: the Board of Education drives our schools and the district where we want them to go!). Talk with your school leaders and teachers, talk with other parents!  It starts with communication and engagement. So I’m asking:

What do you want your public schools to be?

#justonequestion #publiceducation

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20 thoughts on “Just One Question”

  1. When meeting with teachers throughout the state, I am puzzled by the resources so many of the have, when here, in Christina, we’re rationing paper and being told to have students “copy from the board”.
    Hey, 1950 called and wants its blackboard back.
    Seriously. What IS my tax money funding?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In short: They fund everything. Including 30% going to charters before anything else.

      We’re at the very bottom of the downslope from the last referendum and tax increase. Costs and revenue are about to meet and after that there won’t be enough money to maintain district operations.

      Also, the bulk of the tax revenue is received by the district in October each year. I’m not sure who instructed our teachers to ration supplies. I do know (from attending board meetings and CBOC meetings) that schools could order what they needed for supplies. They just couldn’t “stock up” until the bulk of the tax funds came in this month. So I’m not sure how it’s working in other districts. Perhaps they’re not as close to the end of their revenue life cycles.

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      1. Maybe those other districts don’t have as many non teaching professionals on their payroll?
        There is some reason our buildings and our teaching resources are ‘less than’ those in other districts in this state.

        I

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s a combination of reasons. I don’t think the number of non-teaching administrators is one though.
        Also, building upkeep money is completely separate from this referendum effort.

        I’d like to invite you to come out to our Citizen’s Budget Oversight Committee meetings to learn the exact reasons for our financial difficulties. They’re open to the public and very informative and you can ask as many questions as you’d like! This month it’s being held on the 19th at Gauger-Cobbs middle.

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  2. Again… 30% to Charters is the prime reason… The answer (instead of ridding ourselves of charter schools), is to fund them as we do vocational schools for exactly the same reason vocational schools were funded in that way…. line item in state budgets… Public school keeps its per-student money….

    This changes the landscape. When a charter opens up in a district and sucks students out of public school…. that leaves More (not less) money per public school pupil.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A great point kavips. I don’t think charters should be done away with either but the funding process definitely must be addressed. It would take a monumental push by the General Assembly and a governor who wouldn’t veto a charter school funding change though.

      To be honest, I don’t think we have that amount of time. Which is one of the reasons for the referendum now. Especially with 4 new charters slated to open in the district next year and 1 (for now) the following year.

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      1. Right. Per pupil no matter if they’re in the district or charter. If a pupil leaves Christina for a charter, the district money spent on them follows along. If charters funded themselves, all the district money spent on charter students comes back to the district. Opens the possibility to increase district funding per district pupil.

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      2. Exactly. And this will not happen anytime soon in DE. The charter movement here has deep roots.
        Regular public schools must increase efficiency, and, if they are to survive, be accountable to ALL of the students they serve; ALL stakeholders.
        I am a resident of, and teacher in the district.
        I worked hard for the last referendum. Not sold on it this time. Not many teachers are.

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      3. I can understand the skepticism and criticism. I have two kids in this district and will have a third in a few years. I’ve also got pretty high stakes in this district.
        I’d ask and encourage you to come out to the next board meeting, budget oversight committee and/or referendum workshop. Ask questions, get answers voice your concerns.

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  3. 4equity2 Not buying that Charters have deep roots. Wilm Charter perhaps, that is an exception… Awareness outside the educational clique of exactly how charters destroy public schools, can make that change. It is very hard to sell something that hurts 4 other little children for every one it allegedly might (one in five chance it could) help…. The only way charters ever get sold… is when no one ever thinks to mention the harm that comes to the other 4 children left in public schools.

    WE have the Philly school district 30 miles north which now all charter advocates will have to pretend doesn’t exist… “Pay no attention to the failing 6th largest metropolitan area school district in North America behind the curtain….. “

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    1. What about NCS, and how that has skimmed Christina? It has a profound impact on the culture of our schools. One CSD middle school has had about 30 withdrawn since school began. Why do you think so? A new charter in Pike Creek will take even more.
      What part of the population do you think is leaving? What remains?

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    2. Agree with you on all of the above… It seems we have different interpretations of “deep roots”… My interpretation of deep roots is based on the percentage of the population who is both knowledgeable and in support of charters. How many are there? 25?

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      1. It is pretty likely that nearly 100% of that 25% vote. That makes all the difference. And those voters are not too much concerned with the other 75%.
        Delaware is extremely friendly toward charters, and the charters have a strong lobby in the legislature.
        Even the referendum process has been a means of keeping the cost of educating those “others” in check.

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      2. Agree with your totals. Do not agree it is a lost cause. Yes, perhaps if the message is does not get out.. But if it does, that is a tide-turner. (It turned me)

        Delaware is far less friendly to charters than a very large number of other states out there. Which is why we are having these battles. Most other states is is a fait accompli….

        Which is why we can point to Philadelphia and say… See? See what happens when you let charter come in without funding them by a line item in the state’s budget?

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      3. Definitely not a ’cause’ I’m ready to give up on. In fact, I feel very strongly about it.
        However, we do have great inefficiencies in our system. We must own them and correct them, else our battle is in vain.

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      4. True… Our inefficiency is our lack of Democracy and the ability of (for lack of a better word) an elite to get their will done with diminished opposition, be it rezoning, removal of environmental protections, or in this case privatization of public education.

        Delaware has always been more “royal” keeping some of the colonial trappings from before the revolution, (such as our courts) but, often that creates backlash that makes people feel they are being ignored and there make it impossible for the elite to do so…

        It does mean work. But through work is how America has always moved forward. 🙂 We can do this.

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  4. Good to learn of your blog, Brian. Since 1993, I’ve watched the operations of Delaware Education from a quality and performance excellence perspective and remain eager
    to engage educator leaders to access the assessments, resources, tools that may
    states are deploying; several state-wide. Last weeks Carnegie Foundation Education Summit
    hosted over 500 education organization seeking continuous improvement. I noticed that
    there were neither DE state-wide nor Higher Ed’s participating and will be delighted to provide
    an executive briefing to any and all. Did volunteer to provide assistance to your referendum effort. Thank-You, Brian.

    Like

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