School Finance and Delaware Legislation

This past week all education eyes have been on the problems facing the Christiana School District and the state legislators passing legislation to give a $20 million dollar loan. However, with this bailout comes the watchful eye of those legislators who feel the districts can’t control their own finances. I’m not sure about other districts, but in Milford the board has an excellent relationship with the Chief Financial officer, and each board member has spent time with him to better understand the districts finances. As to oversight I have reviewed many audits of the districts finances sometimes one each month it seems including this month when the Districts Financial Position Report was submitted to the state (as required under Section 1507, Title 14, Delaware Code).
What the legislators need to worry about more is unfunded mandates and not taking funds back each year from districts. Also maybe look at equity in funding by someone taking responsibility for re-assessments in all counties. I also want to bring to light something about school finances in general. The News Journal had a recent article about the federal government pulling funding for Delaware schools because of NCLB issues. NCLB requires all schools to have only highly qualified teachers in all areas, yet last I calculated the Fed only contributes ~6.5% of funding to districts like Milford. The local taxpayers provide ~18% while the state provides ~75%, so who should have the bigger say in how districts are run? Talk about unfunded mandates the smallest contributor to our children’s education is putting forth demands that the people of the state of Delaware are paying for in more taxes!
One last comment for this session comes from a recent insight that has come out of Sussex County. First, let me say I don’t fault any of the students that earned what they received! Our Vocational High school, Sussex Vo-Tech, will be graduating 3 students to the high honor of being accepted to our Service Academies. My problems with this is that a school that was originally supposed to give non-college bound students a trade is now truly a “college prep” school. My question to those in state education, the legislate, and the governors office is when did we lose the need for non-college bound education, and if the vocational schools are the same as the other districts why are they funded differently? Why are their boards not held accountable to they constituents, and why is it they can levy taxes without a referendum? How can funding be equitable in the state when you have schools spending 3x the amount per student then the other “college prep” schools in the state! When did a public school have the ability to refuse a student because of test scores, and screen out those it feels will pull down its federal rating!

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About Gary M Wolfe

The Author spent 10 years as a member of the Milford Delaware Board Of Education, and is currently seeking the 18th Senatorial seat in the Delaware Legislature.
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6 Responses to School Finance and Delaware Legislation

  1. Delathought says:

    You’re right on about the Vo-Tech schools. They seem to have all the financial advantage without having to be real trade schools. You’re onto something there.

    Welcome to the Delaware Blogosphere.

  2. Wolfe Gary says:

    Thank you for the comment, the current layout for the vocational schools has always been a point of contention for me. When I went to school there were opportunities for those who did not want to go to college, and I’ve asked around the state when did this change and who changed it? The vocational schools themselves get very defensive when you questions this as I guess their afraid to lose a good thing! I could go on about some of the things I’ve seen and heard done!

  3. Gary,

    I agree with Delathought !

    Those who think charter schools are better don’t understand , it’s not the charter school, it’s the method of mamagment at the school level that includes real shared decision making including polices with parents.

    When you get a chance , look at you district’s Consolidated Grant Application and check out section on Title 1, call the parents listed as particpants and ask, if thy were part of the desgin, planning ,
    implemntation of Title 1 in your district. Does you district have a “district” Title 1 Parent Advisory Board ?

    Keep up the good work

  4. Wolfe Gary says:

    I have inquired about the Consolidated Grant and will be sitting down with our director of secondary education to understand it more. I did talk briefly with him and the process is a bottom up decision making program, and there is a parent group that I will find out more about.
    The comment I want to make about Charter school finances is that you have to remember that when they recieve funding it is a lump sum. They then are free like a business to “deal” out funding as they see fit to. With standard Public school funding all funds come with a tag attached which says it must only go here. If you don’t spend it on something it goes back, and you are not free to shift it to areas that might be short.
    As to the management, I would not generalize that it is better as I know of a Charter in Georgetown that is no more because of poor management. Also there are Public schools that are still out performing some charters.

  5. Kilroy Was Here says:

    In your District’s copy of the Consolidated Grant under the Title 1 Section under assurances, you should see a list of parents’ name that the district indicated as participants in the planning, design, implementation and review of the Title 1 program. You might consider call those parents and ask if the in fact to part in the Consolidated Grant process. They odds are they won’t know what you are talking about ! In some district parents names are rubber stamp. I believe you’ll find this consistent with, Section 1112. Local Educational Agency Plans (d) Plan Development and Duration of the Title 1 law.

    Do check in with Ron Houston of DOE any question regarding Title 1 in regards to you Consolidated Grant Application. Also , I do believe you district will be sending next year application into DOE this July.

    Do find out who your district parent representatives are that serve on the Delaware State Parent Advisory Council sponsored by DOE, they meet once a month with parents from around Delaware.

    I much rather see magnet schools than charter schools. Sooner or later the only student who will be left in traditional public schools will the students who fall below the achievement gap, the same students educational reform was meant to help.

  6. Wolfe Gary says:

    Thanks, you need to fix your address as it should read “http://cabot.bvermont.com”. I see your under construction, what is your interests that brought you to mine?

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