LIVE from the Red Clay Board of Education Special Meeting on WEIC

(originally posted on delawareliberal.net)

Pinned: 7:08pm:  RCCSD Board Approves the District’s WEIC Plan/Draft/Outline 4-1 with 2 not present.  More details to come once I get home

Final Update:  Apologies for the complete discombobulation of a post, but here you go.  (Apparently I need to brush up on my live-blogging skills).

If you ask me, what I saw Red Clay’s board vote on tonight was accepting a plan with no source of funding that’s going to cost a lot of money, take 7 years minimum to implement, and affect thousands of children and hundreds of educators and support staff keeping them all in uncertainty until 2022.  Keep in mind the State is $130 million short already next year, and Dover has said any financial changes will be “revenue neutral”.  If that is true, ANY cost to get the WEIC plan moving must be offset by a reduction in spending somewhere else in the gov’t. Below are the paraphrased details that I could type up as the meeting went on.  They’re disorganized, but there’s some good information in there.

The Players: CT: Catherine Thompson, Board Member.

KR: Kenny Rivera, RCCSD Board President

TA: Ted Ammann, Assistant Superintendent RCCSD

Jill Floore – RCCSD Chief Financial Officer

How will we know what the funding for WEIC is going to look like?

– Governor’s budget comes out in Jan 2016, that will provide the first look at funding changes.

What about giving the Board of Ed power to adjust operating tax like they do Tuition Tax and Debt Service tax?

– RCCSD plan includes a provision to permit local school boards to adjust operating tax rate without referendum, until a rolling property reassessment takes over.

What’s the rolling property reassessment going to look like?

– 1/3 of the properties in the district’s tax base will be assessed at a time with an undetermined amount of time to complete each phase of the reassessment and this would be a statewide rolling reassessment process managed at the County level.

What about transportation for students who choice to schools outside their feeder patterns after the lines change? By law, students have the right to remain in the program/school they are in until graduation:
– Ted Ammann, Asst. Superintendent for Red Clay: “One of the early points we thought we’d get into an argument with Christina about but we didn’t” was over how to transport choice students.  If the program is in Christina, CSD will handle transport, if in RCCSD, Red Clay handles it.

But then Ted threw in the Sterck School:  “Not unlike how its done with the Sterck School, if a student attends there a Christina bus goes to their development to pick them up.”  While that is true, Sterck School for the Deaf is a statewide program, not a district program. Tuition tax paid in the student’s residential district pays for the student to attend the program.  So if a student who lives in Red Clay goes to Sterck (in Christina), a Christina bus does pick them up but Red Clay’s taxpayers are paying for that.  So no, Mr. Ammann it is not like how it’s done with the Delaware School for the Deaf.

Another point of confusion for me came up when Christina’s special programs in the city were mentioned:

CT: If a student likes the program they’re in, they’ll have the opportunity to stay in the program. So would we see overcrowded schools in RCCSD?

KR: That would be on Christina, example: if the student is in Glasgow, they’d choose to stay in Glasgow. Paid by Christina.  So we might see undercrowding in the first few years.

CT: What about Christina’s Special Ed programs: Pyle Academy, DAP, Douglass?

TA: If we get the buildings, we will only offer programs we decide we want to offer. If Douglass program building comes to RCC, CSD wouldn’t be able to host the program there. RCCSD is in no rush to take buildings, so they may permit CSD to use the building to phase out current students.

Delaware Autism Program (DAP), like the Delaware School for the Deaf is not a Christina program, it’s statewide, meaning that tuition taxes paid in the students resident district pay for attendance.  DAP also isn’t in the city.  Christina only pays for students who live in the Christina School District to attend these programs. Sarah Pyle Academy is also tuition funded. Whichever district the student lives in is the district paying for them to go there.

Ted Ammann also stated that Red Clay, rightly so, will need to do a full assessment of the Christina city buildings to figure out what needs to be done to them to get them up (or down) to Red Clay’s specifications at a cost of 8 cents per square foot. This would also be included in the “Transition Funds” requested by Red Clay to come from the State.

Red Clay also plans to have a 1:1 technology program fully implemented by 2022, when the WEIC transition will be completed.

The idea of creating a Wilmington City “sub-district” of the Red Clay Consolidated District was brought up along with what modifications to Board representation and governance would have to be made as the transition moves forward.

Board President Kenny Rivera believes that the WEIC plan will generate the additional resources needed to move education forward in Delaware.

As I said above, the Board approved a plan with very little detail to it and no clear picture of costs associated with it, on the premises that “the State will give us the money” and it’ll be figured out by July 2016.

Merv Daughtery, Red Clay’s Superintendent said if July 2016 gets here and there’s no funding, then there’s no plan.

——————————————

5:43pm – Support resources for Low-Income and ELL: Jill Floore, CFO – multiple models have been discussed but there are no final details.

ELL: One specific weight for weighted funding?  Or sliding scale depending on English proficiency?

Committee unanimously endorsed property reassessment. Long discussion on equalization funding formula, frozen since 2009.

In 2015 dollars, less per pupil state funding than in 2008.  Extra time programming, SROs, ELL ‘discretionary funds’ were the most frequently cut.

5:39pm

Revised WEIC Timeline:

Approval Phase – First half 2016
Planning Phase – July 2016-June2017
Transition Phase – July 2017 – 6/18
Implementation Phase – 7/18 – 6/22

—————————————–

Red Clay’s Board of Education has called a special session public meeting this evening.  The lone topic on the agenda is WEIC.

This will be my attempt at live blogging the meeting, start to finish. You can check out the agenda and related documents from Red Clay’s BoardDocs site: http://www.boarddocs.com/de/rccsd/Board.nsf/Public

Meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30pm.

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