Spring letdown in Milford

A busy week and a lot to share with readers. First, Monday night’s board meeting was a lot like a congressional hearing in some ways and I would have laughed had I not been disappointed. Before the public meeting the board met with the construction folks to get an update on the Central Academy. The laughable piece came at the beginning of the discussions as the board had asked last month for feedback from the grounds work contractor. When asked by Roland directly about what was the timeline for the work on the sports fields when the contract was bid, the GM and contractor huddled together in the corner like at a hearing table. Then when they fired backed that “we are not at liberty to discuss that issue at this point”, I almost lost it! I then tried to keep the water from getting bloodied and asked the contractors if they would like to explain to our athletes, parents, and fans why for two years now we are playing off campus. Based on their best guess the baseball, softball, and tennis courts will be ready by sometime this summer. Now following this disturbing news the other news on the Academy was actually very good. Even after one of the largest snowfalls in Delaware history the partially completed building held up extremely well with no leak, cracks, or failures! Since the building for the most part is under roof, the GM felt the work would continue as planned. The board and administration continue to press the GM to complete the work by July 2010.
The public meeting began at 7:15 and we started by recognizing our students who demonstrated everything from superior spelling abilities to our arts students, and finally to the student athletes of our championship ladies swim team! Under regular business the board approved several change orders for the construction, and tabled discussions on the new furniture until board can see the choices. The board approved a new calendar for 2010-2011 school years which has the school year returning to the post labor day start on Sep 7th. Then the board said farewell to Dr Robert Sutcliffe who after 33 years with our district is retiring along with our HS Nurse Ms. Renate Wiley. The remainder of the meeting was financials which normally would be uneventful, but thanks to our local representatives and senators we were able to use funding dollars to improve the over crowded band areas since our HS band has now grown to over 100 strong! Next meeting in March will have a shout out to the folks from the district who get the least recognition, but who shoveled snow and braved the elements to see our district schools were ready for our students!
Now the piece many were writing to me about and that is the meeting with our Governor. On Tuesday evening, Ms. Kanter, Dr. Dufendach, and I met with Gov. Markell to deliver a message of about the needs of the Milford school district. Ms. Kanter shared the message of how Milford has done well on preparing our students while at the same time doing it with less. Then Dr. Dufendach presented a well prepared paper on how the state has placed such as high priority on equity in education, but yet it has largely ignored the disparities in funding education. The data presented showed how districts like Milford, Laurel, Woodbridge, and Seaford were struggling with equalization funding which has led to staffing issues as teachers and staffs are moving from poorer to richer districts at greater rates! One thing we think surprised the Governor was how much the tax rates of Milford were higher then say Cape, but they operate on $59k per classroom to Milford’s $33k! This is because their tax base plus equalization from the state does not get equally divided, and yet the state calls the education each child is given to be equal? The Governor was given some suggestions on how to correct this error, such as, collecting property taxes at county level and dividing them equal; provide targeted funding to poorer districts; and finally modifying the equalization formula. The last piece that was laid out for the Governor was how the current proposed 2011 state budget recommendations for 25% cost of transportation costs, and other reductions will impact Milford’s students to the tune of $1,934,581! That equates to $ 42.60 per $200,000 market value increase in property taxes for Milford taxpayers! Something taxpayers like me and the rest of Milford can not continue to shoulder! What brought the meeting to end finally were comments which did not sit well with me as Mr. Markell told us we should basically quit whining and get with other districts to offer solutions to the states money problems. He did let us know that consolidation is large in his mind as he sees cutting administrative positions as the ways to an end, and yet he does not know how the issue of teacher leveling will help the budget. My personal thoughts were that the folks in Dover are looking at Educators to cut back on our budgets while still providing the same level of education for all the students of Delaware. They called the fantasy land these folks must live in Shangri La!

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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.
This entry was posted in Delaware Politics, Education. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Spring letdown in Milford

  1. John Young says:

    Quit whining eh? Wonder how that will work out at the ballot box. That is unfortunate but as I am learning about the businessman’s approach to education, not surprising. We are hit 3.6MM on that trans cut up here in Christina. This is going to be one rough go up here too!

  2. Pingback: Jack Markell just doesn’t get it ! « Kilroy's delaware

  3. Elizabeth Scheinberg says:

    Conspiracy Theory:

    1) Push the brunt of the tax increases on districts who will fail at referendum.
    2) Wait for the districts to self-destruct financially
    3) DOE Swoop in to save the children from the districts failings
    4) Dissolve the local school board and place the district into conservatorship via DOE citing Consistently Failing Schools and Flawed Financial Policies.

    But, then again, I may be reading too much into Los Angelos, Rhode Island, and Mississippi. Consolidation, my eye!

  4. AncoraImparo says:

    Gives a whole new perspective to “choice.”

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