Monthly Archives: September 2015
Our schools do so much more than educate our children
The below comment was left on my Reps. Facebook Page under the post: Funding Student Success Working Group Meeting – Update.
It’s important for legislators – and tax payers/citizens – to understand that our schools have been asked to do so much more than educate our children. That has huge impacts on teachers, administrators, budgets, and communities. Are we willing to do that as a nation? Do we need to rethink priorities and expectations? How can we create stronger families, neighborhoods, communities, and towns so that our teachers and students can truly focus on learning?
The comment and questions are spot-on. Do folks really understand what is happening in our schools today? Educators are not just teaching, they are doing so much more. I have seen first-hand what teachers do for Delaware students; it is not just about reading, writing and arithmetic.
State of Delaware Office of Auditor’s Releases Audit Report PCard Issues with Kuumba and Delaware College Prep Charter Schools
Funding Student Success Working Group Meeting – Update
A Washington Post story reported in January the following:
- For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.
The article goes on to say:
- It also means that education policy, funding decisions and classroom instruction must adapt to the needy children who arrive at school each day.
Today was the Funding Student Success Working Group meeting at Baltz Elementary School.There were 13 committee members present and 2 members of the public.
Most think that Delaware’s Unit funding system is functional but lacks the necessary funding for Spec. Ed Basic Students kindergarten through 3rd grades, funding for English Language Learners (ELL) and students of poverty. Our system is primarily based on a unit system with some weighted funding for Special Education students, Basic 4th – 12th grades, Intensive K – 12th grades and Complex K – 12th grades, see § 1703 Unit of pupils.
The committee handed out an Analysis of Funding for Poverty Units which provided 10% to 15% of additional units based on a weighted % of poverty in a Red Clay. The group discussed adding bands to the analysis. For example: if a school had 60% of low income students they would receive a higher weighted percentage than a school that had 20% of low income students. They are looking at whether to focus on grade level poverty or focus on schools that have a higher concentration of low income students.
- They are going to put together an additional analysis for Christina School District.
- Connect with the other WEIC sub-committees and coordinate to see what other state agencies could provide to schools with high numbers of low income students.
- Have IPA look at best practices of weighted funding formulas for ELL and low income students.
Amplify Education Laid Off an Estimated Two-Thirds of Staff and Delaware Gave Amplify Millions
Multiple sources inside and outside the company said that most of its staff lost their jobs today, effective immediately, at around 10:30 a.m.
He said, “This is like the cold, inhumane hand of capitalism at work, and it seems wrong that they could stay in the shadows.”
Amplify is the education subsidiary of News Corp launched in July 2012. Amplify Insight was formed out of Wireless Generation, the educational company bought by News Corp in 2010, and focuses on assessment and analytics for data-driven instruction. Amplify Learning develops a digital curriculum based on the Common Core State Standards. Amplify Access focuses on a tablet-based learning platform for students and teachers.
Delaware’s Checkbook shows payments to Wireless Generation which is now Amplify.
FY 2014 $809,613
FY 2013 $4,148,952
FY 2012 $3,989,400
FY 2011 $972,477
Consultants vs Paying Folks a Good Salary
In an earlier post, I published that the state has spent over a half a billion dollars on consultants over the last five years with regards to consultants. You can view Delaware’s Checkbook.
I am sure there are worthwhile consultants and ones that are a waste of money. The question that came to mind.
We always hear folks say we need to pay people a good salary so we can attract or retain the best people. If we are paying top dollar to retain the best people, why do we need to spend over a half a billion dollars on consultants as well?
Friday’s Education Corner, Looking for Comments from Educators, Parents, Community Members
Submit your thoughts on educational issues or concerns. You can email your thoughts to me at KimWilliams19@comcast.net. Please note if you wish to remain anonymous. People in the trenches are our best information as to what is taking place in Delaware. Every Friday I will post something new written by all of you.
Delaware and Consultants, Over Half a Billion Dollars has been Spent on Consultants in the Last Five Years
Delaware has spent over the last 5 years $640,730,221 on consultants. I am sure some of them are worthwhile and I am sure some are not. A large amount of consultants were contracted in education, health and social services and transportation. Education and healthcare are one of our most expensive ticket items in Dover.
- FY 2016 1,520 payments $13,554,397.49 (Periods 1 and 2)
- FY 2015 14,573 payments $111,720,958.43
- FY 2014 16,307 payments $119,309,174.68
- FY 2013 16,822 payments $127,061,222.95
- FY 2012 15,578 payments $138,288,534.23
- FY 2011 13,650 payments $130,795,936.69
Parent, Educator and Community Engagement Committee meeting is today
Many Concerns with Delaware Met Charter School
I have many concerns about tonight’s Special Board meeting at Delaware Met Charter School. The impression I got from tonight’s meeting is chaos at the school. I am concerned about the principal being out and I did not hear if she was coming back; they just opened and no leader. The board spoke about clarity is needed around behavior issues and the need for accountability among students and teachers. They spoke about how the student population was challenging. A board member did state that the issues they are having are normal for any new school opening, I do not necessarily agree with that comment.
I spoke to someone after the meeting from Innovative Schools and asked why their financial reports were not posted online, they told me because they just started receiving money in July 2015. When I go to Delaware’s Online Checkbook, DE Met Charter School has been receiving funds for a few years now. In FY 2014 they spent over $287,000, FY 2015 they spent $201,000, and FY 2016 Period 1 and 2 $315,000.
The board focused a lot of their conversation around student cell phone usage and dress code issues.
They spoke about how the teachers did not have lesson plans in place. They were working on a master class schedule. Talked about staff needed to be on time. Classroom management was not there. They indicated that the school was closed last week for a few days so the teachers and staff could get things in order and to offer PD. Staff realizes urgency. Staff needs to focus on soft skills, rigor was not clear.
Some of the comments that were made by the board concerned me as well.
- One board member asked about the students from alternative schools who were enrolled at the school without proper documentation.
- Another board member said what are we going to do with students who are not a good fit here?
- Someone from the staff commented how they have failed the students.
- One board member stated that they thought there should be a strict no cell phone policy and a staff member said the students would not like that. I am wondering who is running the school?
- Dress code may have to be a part of the long-term plan; don’t want to do too much to soon may upset the students.
I am very confused about the internship that students will go to during their 9th and 10th grades. The students write their own plan. Does the school have relationships with businesses in the area? Is it the schools job or the students job to find the internship?
Lots of questions and no answers, especially with no public comment. I am concerned about the students who are gong to this school. I don’t want the school to fail but to consider closing only after being open one month is extremely alarming. September 30th Unit Count is fast approaching, my concerns are what if the school decides to close after the money has been funded.
Special education – identifying the students and providing services is very important. If all the Spec Ed students have not been identified, the school will receive no funding after September 30th. If the student is intensive or complex you could be talking about a lot of funds that the school will not receive. How would they be able to pay for all of these services? They do not have a large staff what if a student need OT, PT, or Speech who is paying for these services?
Are the students going to have sports teams? What about physical education that is still required in high school? What about all the fun activities that go with a high school band, clubs, etc. I am not sure if these students are going to have any of these things.