Tag Archives: Funding Basic Special Education K – 3rd Grades

Special Education Ratings for DE School Districts and Charter Schools an Unfair Rating System

I just wanted to state how much I hate school ratings and how these ratings are always used to label our schools.

DE DOE recently released Special Education Ratings for all of our school districts and charters, Exceptional Delaware posted about this. Exceptional Delaware listed which school districts and charter schools met the requirements, which ones needed assistance and which ones needed intervention. I am told this is a federal regulation but I do not care if it is a local, state or federal regulation or law – they are just useless.

As everyone knows, many of our schools have enrollment preferences and these enrollment preferences have a tendency to exclude special education students. We are holding all of our schools to the same accountability system but many of our schools admit students differently. Our traditional school district doors are always open – welcoming everyone! Other schools or districts open their doors on a crack and only some are welcomed in.

Charter School of Wilmington received 100%, they scored 6 out of a possible 6 points. The Red Clay School District received 46.51%  –  scored 20 out of 43 points – tell me how this is fair? CSW needed 6 points to score a perfect score and Red Clay needed 43 points to get a perfect score. Charter School of Wilmington has the ability to select their students and has a total enrollment of 971 students compared to the Red Clay School District which has over 17,000 students. How about the feds or state give some type of rating to Charter School of Wilmington on the lack of special education students enrolled in the school since the state’s overall percentage of special education students is 14.9%? If a school does not come close to the state’s overall special education percentages than their overall score is lowered.

The DE Department of Education letter which accompanied the ratings to each school district and charter school starts out by thanking the Charter School of Wilmington for their ongoing dedication and commitment to educating students with disabilities – there are SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS in Charter School of Wilmington compared to the Red Clay School District which has over 2,000 special education students how is that a commitment? Please do not take this as an attack on Charter School of Wilmington, I am just so tired of these unrealistic labels and comparisons that are meaningless that are placed on our school districts and schools.

I was looking through the various letters and I noticed Delaware Military Academy received a 60% scored 6 out of a possible 10 points. DMA has 584 students and 20 special education students and only scored 13.49 percent higher than Red Clay School District who serves over 17,000 students and over 2,000 special education students, I would think the state would be really concerned about that. DMA only needed to score 10 points compared to Red Clay needing 43 points.

First, we need to fund basic special education for kindergarten through 3rd grades, we all know the schools could use the resources. Secondly, we need to get out of the business of labeling and rating our schools – we keep testing and assessing and we always come up with the same results, we know what needs to be done.

Let’s get back to educating our students and move away from testing, evaluating and labeling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Education Funding Improvement Commission Meeting #4 –Must Read!

Yesterday, I attended the Education Funding Improvement Commission Meeting #4. It was held in Dover at 9:00. Former State Representative Scott, who is chairing this committee, thought the timeline which was placed on the commission was very tight. The commission report is due in March. He asked the members if they were in favor of adding additional time so the committee could continue to meet –the committee members present all agreed. One member of the commission, did express that the time of day that they hold these meetings are not convenient for parents and educators. She requested that they hold the next meeting at night.

I am not sure where the commission is heading. There is a great divide with its members. One group of members want to throw out the unit count system completely and the other group of members want to keep the unit count and modify it.

The meetings that I have attended have been more about presenting information then actual discussion. I am not against presentations, it is important to educate members on the issues. My concern is everyone in the room already knows where they stand on the issue. They really need to open up the discussion and figure out which direction are they going to take –removing the unit count completely or keeping it and add weighted funding to it. Once the members decide on this, I believe the members will be able to recommend what needs to be done.

The first presentation was given by Rep. Bambauch and David Blowman. Rep. Bambauch had been working with the Department of Education on this issue for the last year. The Department of Education hired a consultant they had been working with to do the research. The group that prepared the report was Hanover Research. This group only provided data and no recommendations –I had a hard time dissecting the report.

Rep. Bambauch and David Blowman presented a traditional weighted funding model –both of them believe the unit count system needs to be removed and replaced with a weighted formula. Rep. Bambauch commented that the funding system is broken and that funding needs to be fairly distributed throughout the state. Each school would receive a budget and the school principals would have a salary cap (hiring teachers/staff) in place at their schools. He does not believe teachers will be against this. He believes the most important thing teachers want are the necessary resources in place at their schools.

The next presentation was Dr. Marguerite Roza, from Georgetown University, she presented an equitable funding model.  She focused on four reasons to change the formula:  provide equity for students, delivery models are changing and the formula must not stand in the way, simple and transparent, and be outcome focused. Her recommendations were to allocate funds per pupil, ensure funds are flexible, restructure equalization, and build a transparent system.

The next step, in my opinion, should be a vote to see where the members are with the direction of this committee. I am getting the impression there is an agenda in place that not all members of the committee have seen. There seems to be a push for removing the unit count completely and replacing it with one of the models that have been presented over the last few meetings. A letter was drafted by some committee members expressing their concerns about the direction of the committee.

I did make a public comment at the end of the meeting. I suggested that they have more dialogue among the committee members instead of presentations. If they could make sure the Education Funding Improvement Commission website has the meeting dates listed. On their website for yesterday’s meeting it listed the February meeting was “To Be Determined”.  I expressed support for the unit count system but adding weighted student funding for ELL, poverty and basic special education kindergarten through 3rd grades.

Below, is a link to information and presentations associated with this commission. The next meeting will be held sometime in March.

Education Funding Improvement Commission website.

 

 

 

Education Funding Improvement Commission, Are the Recommendations in Place Already?

Senate Joint Resolution Number 4 created the Education Funding Improvement Commission to review and make recommendations to modernize and improve Delaware’s System for Funding Public Education. The chair of this commission is former State Representative Scott from Dover. My impression from working with him on the House Education Committee, he is a big supporter of a weighted funding formula.  I do not support removing the unit count; I support enhancing it by adding a weighted funding formula, like the state does for Special Education.

Note: The state does not fund Basic Special Education kindergarten through 3rd grades. I filed House Bill 30 last year, it is currently in House Appropriations Committee, this would add Basic Special Education funding for kindergarten through 3rd grades.

After attending the meeting this week, I got the impression that the recommendations may already be developed, I could be wrong. I think we are heading down a dangerous road if the unit count is removed completely. Just because something has been in place for many years does not always mean it is a bad thing. Lets see if this commission and WEIC Funding Student Success Committee agree on each others recommendations.

Click here to read Senate Joint Resolution #4. You can read more about the commission by clicking here.

The commission is suppose to make recommendations regarding the following:

(1) Transitioning to a student-focused funding system and weighting funding based on demographic characteristics of students.

(2) Introducing more flexibility for the state, districts, and schools to raise and spend resources more effectively for their students.

(3) Improving the way revenues are collected and allocated for education throughout the State.

The Commission may also consider the following topics:

(1) The amount of funding necessary to prepare a student to be successful.

(2) More effective uses of current funding sources.

(3) Those groups of students that would benefit the most from receiving additional funding, such as low-income students, high-need students, rural students, and English language learners, and the amount of resources or nature of support that those groups would need to be successful.

(4) Adequacy of resources available for students with special needs.

(5) Whether additional resources are needed to better serve students who are homeless, have behavior challenges, or are adjudicated delinquent.

(6) Whether, and how, different types of funding should be allocated, including operational funds, capital funds, and grants.

(6) Ways to provide more flexibility for schools and districts to use funding to best serve student needs.

(7) Current and future system resource constraints and demographic trends.

Wilmington Education Improvement Commission – Funding Student Success Committee Met Yesterday

Finance

Wilmington Education Commission Improvement website

Yesterday, I attended the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission – Funding Student Success at William Penn High School – 2:00 to 4:00. Mike Jackson (Deputy Controller General) and Jill Floore (Red Clay School District Chief Financial Officer) are the co-chairs of the committee, they went over the discussion/possible proposed action items.

Mike Jackson and Jill Floore  are financial folks and I am grateful that they are co-chairing this committee. I am concerned about the timeline to have a plan in place by the end of October, which is only 6 weeks away, but I will wait and see what happens at the next few meetings. The quick timeline is due to the timing of when the final report must be presented to the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and the State Board of Education. I just want to point out that many of the members of this committee have backgrounds in school finances.

Discussion Items/Possible Proposed Action Items:

  • Funding Low Income Students (House Bill 117)
  • Funding Kindergarten – 3rd grade Basic Special Education (House Bill 30)
    • I asked if funding for English Language Learners could/would be added to the prosed action items?
  • Weighted Student Funding
  • Multiple Enrollment Unit Counts
  • Property Reassessment
  • Tax Rates
  • Funding – shifting population between districts
  • Staffing impact on each district
  • Facilities needs assessment (example new middle or high school, condition of existing building, etc.)
  • City of Wilmington – Office of Education and Public Policy
  • Early Childhood Learning
    • Meeting the Needs of Students in Poverty Committee will look at this as well.
    • Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant – the grant is done, how are we going to fund early learning?
  • College Access
  • IRMC – Interagency Resource Management Committee
    • The next meeting of the IRMC is December 2, 2015.
    • IRMC’s Mission – Promote the development of a comprehensive and coordinated early childhood system, birth to eight, which provides the highest quality services and environment for Delaware’s children and their families.
  • Look at equity in choice.
    • I would suggest looking at transportation as well.

The next Student Funding Success meeting will be September 22nd 3:00 to 5:00 at Baltz Elementary School.