Red Clay back at it with the tin cup referendum act

36 Days until the Capital Referendum!

Re ferendum Questions of the Week:

Q: Why is the district asking for HVAC work at so many of the schools?

A: Most schools will receive badly needed work on its Heating and Air-Conditioning system (HVAC). Projects vary in size, depending on the age of the system and the need for repairs. Five schools need major overhauls, including A.I. High School, A.I Middle School, Brandywine Springs School, Warner Elementary School and Dickinson High School. These systems were not included in the last capital referendum, which was approved by voters in 2002. At that time, the systems were functioning. However, like many systems in our own homes, they have since reached or surpassed their life cycle and cannot sufficiently heat in the winter or cool in the late spring and summer. The district is constantly making minor repairs and replacing parts on the older systems. New and upgraded systems will be more reliable and require less maintenance. In addition to making schools more comfortable, the district expects to save substantial dollars in utility costs as the outdated systems are made more energy efficient.

Yes there was a major capital referendum in 2002 and I voted for it even for the new North Star school. Trying to age all the renovations and equipment to the year 2002 is bullshit. How many years did it take to complete all the renovations?  But no big deal! You notice Red Clay didn’t archive the details of the last referendums. They laid it all out which buildings was going to get this and that down to how many interior doors. Yea yea there isn’t enough room on the server. Fine ! So why not put those files back you to show the community exactly what was done. But yes equipment such as HVAC does need to be replaced. I am not sure if the referendum with be a two question ballot. One for these needed repairs and the other for the new school on Graves Road. I’ve been waiting for the department of election to post sample ballot. I’ll vote for those renovations but will not for a new elementary school when there are seats available in Red Clay’s Wilmington schools Also the new dual language charter school that for sure will be approved will bring Lewis school to its knees. Lewis is at 73% capacity now and once that new charter school opens 2013-2014 school years Lewis population will fall big time below 50%. Shortlidge another Red Clay city school is at 54.4% and Warner at 86.7%

Q: What happens if the referendum does not pass?

A: The unfortunate reality is that the district will not be able to make much-needed repairs at buildings and will have to consider other options for over-crowding, including readjusting feeder patterns in most elementary schools to shift the population to our schools in the city. This would be disruptive to all of our schools, and impact important programs in place at our city schools. The district must also reconsider the K-8 Brandywine Springs model and continue to rent or add additional trailers at other schools?

Ain’t this some shit,”readjusting feeder patterns in most elementary schools to shift the population to our schools in the city”. Code for forced busing of students back to the city. But no body gives a rat’s ass about city middle and high school students being forced to ride buses to suburban schools because there are no traditional Red Clay middle and high schools in the city. 50% of A.I. High School student are out of feeder choice students (Red Clay admins creates new math. Re: Building Capacity) and Dickinson has space! The tea leaves of Red Clay’s school choice (discrimination within ?)

Red Clay is out to build a Camelot neighborhood school zone for the suburbs and seems not to give a rat’s ass about neighborhood middle and high school for the city kids! And they have some nerve asking city Red Clay taxpayers to foot yet another school building in the suburbs on top of Brandywine Springs and North Star and let’s not forget the maintenance of those buildings. VOTE no on the new school and remind the district fair and equitable education means all students. I can see why the Hispanic / Latino wants their own dual language school. So who now gets screwed again?  Don’t count on the righteous men of Wilmington to step up! Some are too busy trying to save an old but important school building in Hockessin thats been empty or over 50 years and are blind to the injustices at schools that currently have students within. Sister! Make your stand and be heard.

Update! Sample ballot is now active! The referendum will be a two-part vote. Vote yes to question 1 and NO to question 2 (new school). 

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24 Responses

  1. Within 1.4 miles of Linden Hill a school that has cost the Red Clay property owners hundreds of thousands of dollars for portable classroom is Heritage Elementary, a school in 2010-2011 whose feeder enrollment was 286 students under progam capacity. One school with children jammed–another that has just been updated with empty classrooms. Don’t forget to get Linden Hill, North Star and Brandywine Springs severely over-crowded, the Board approved choice application that exceeded these schools program capacity, and while approving these choice applications our number of K-5 schools with enrollment over 80% low income increased from 1 to 6. Where are the parents of these children, where are our state elected officials.

    How much money are we going to spend on the Wilmington Campus where only slightly over 50% of the students live in Red Clay. We should change the feeder patterns of McKean and Dickinson and let Cab use Dickinson—give the Wilmington Campus to CSW and let them maintain. If this referendum is approved, the taxpayers would have spent over $33 million on the Wilmington Campus, more than on any other school. Our Board does not believe Red Clay’s property owners money should be expended on Red Clay children, last year we had 190 children attending Conrad that live in other districts. .Students parents from other school districts do not pay a dime for capital improvements.

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  2. I will vote no because of the needed equality in all the schools. Hockessin and Greenville will vote for it to keep their precious kiddies in the schools of their choice but there are too many open seats that could be filled.

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    • That’s my point and with a new dual language charter school in the pipeline a few blocks from Lewis it’s obvious Lewis will have many open seats and it’s dual language school program is done! The deep dark agenda with Red Clay proposed Graves school is to expand it to 8th grade just like what happen to Brandywine, No I feel every student should have the option to attend the school closest to their home. However, ignoring middle and high school neighborhood schools for the city kids is nothing more than a racist agenda. And to add insult to injury Red Clay wants those living in the City with in Red Clay to help foot the bill. That bill will go beyond construction and into daily operation cost. Jack is kicking out day that’s spinning heads and much of it is beyond many legislator’s heads.

      I hear Red Clay referendum phone call list is targeting Pike Creek / Hockessin the benefactors of the new schools to try to trump any naysayers.the vote tally will total about 10-12,000 votes.

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  3. I haven’t received any information on the upcoming RCCD referendum – not a mailer or a phone call. I called several neighbors and they haven’t received anything either.

    Here’s my question: Why should a school district be allowed to exclude certain parts of their district (in promoting/advertising a referendum) given that those excluded will still be responsible for paying for the costs?

    Why wouldn’t this be considered a form of voter suppression?

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    • http://www.redclay.k12.de.us/enews/enewsindex.shtml

      sign up for Red Clay E-news.

      The information given to me wasn’t verified and I have no confidence in the district to provide the truth. I know for a natural fact there are calls being made but as far as the list, I really don’t know. You’ve been around long enough to know how agenda machines work in Red Clay.

      FYI you old sparing partner is on the board of the new proposed dual language school that’s going to put the screws to Lewis. When Red Clay proposed the new school it was going to be K-8 but after some public criticism they pull their horns in and said it will be k-12, You can bet they’ll pull what they did for Brandywine going from K-5 to K-8 and its ratings fell.

      I’ve haven’t heard anything as far as who is leading the communication campaign to get the message out in Wilmington.

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  4. As long as they make it known to all residents at some time they fulfill their legal obligations. They’ll do a newsletter focusing solely on the referendum about a week before the vote. But they will pound their yes base relentlessly with phone calls, post cards, take homes in student folders, etc. they don’t want the general community to vote. They don’t want the elderly ( if they hear of an organized effort of fixed income retirees they will panic). They will only market to their yes group. All you need is 50% +1

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  5. Kilroy – you won’t get a call list because most of the funds raised to through a non profit organization and that organization is the one who makes the calls. They will fill out a utilities request form to use a red clay facility but a lot of the advertising is paid through the non profit there by excluding it from FOIA

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  6. I see no information about feeder pattern enrollment compared to actual–the board puts out information to influence not inform. DDOE has approved a Certificate of Necissity based on actual enrollment—if RC wants another school all they have to do is choice children into a school than says we are over-crowded—the question is, will the Bond committee provide 19.5 million to build a school to eliminate over-crowding when space is available? We they consider the fact Heritage feeder enrollment is 1.4 miles from Linden Hill. In my opinion our school board does represent all our children, and it approves spending money we provide for our children and spend it on children from other school districts–

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  7. Thanks for these posts. I’m taking them to my group of city school parents, who thanks to the referendum have finally decided to attend the February board meeting to ask for some answers on reseg, under capacity urban schools, etc. It will be the first board meeting for all of these parents (myself included) – any advice?

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    • When address the board each person gets three minutes and must fill-out a green slip. The board is not obligated to respond and most likely won’t. However, the larger the crowd the more they’ll notice. Some times at board meeting its not always the voice but the presence.Public comment time is just that, time to comment and really not a question and answer time. There is a board member from the city of Wilmington and make sure you tell him you expectation of his representation.

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    • All this is correct, but needs one addition. Get there EARLY to fill out the slip. Just like the third grade exercise that it is, one way they control the rabble is by limiting the time to sign up more severely even than the limits they place on the speaking time itself. And don’t expect the slips to come out and greet you — expect to search for them.

      PROVIDED, and this is interesting, and one thing I hadn’t thought about since. Faith is one Board member who, confronted with the exclusivity of the sign up policy, and the third-graded-ness of it all, promised me, at the Vision 2015 Festival of Fancy at UD last fall, to move toward eliminating, if not to actually eliminate, the sign up requirement. I got the same from Gina from Christina.

      Please let us all know how the signup deal works these days. I’m not sufficiently healed from what I heard at the last RC meeting I sat through (and could not speak because I arrived 00:00:33 late) to go back yet.

      ALSO, you’ve been given an day and a half worth of questions. Seriously think through the point you want to make to the crowd, because the Board won’t be particularly impressed no matter. Don’t open with a raft of thank yous and appreciations and such — GET TO IT, the clock is running. And recall one very important rule of public speaking in general. The audience won’t miss what you don’t tell them.

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    • This is great, thank you all! I know we won’t be able to touch upon everything, and I like the idea of composing a short sheet of bullet points to share with board members, attendees and/or press. Let’s hope we get there.

      I’ve attended the UD Festival of Fancy (haha!), myself, for the past several years. Work-related, but I always end up feeling like a PTA narc. It’s always illuminating – sometimes in unintentional ways.

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  8. Ask for school capacity of all schools based on “feeder” enrollment for school year 2010-2011—do not allow them to show you actual enrollment.
    Ask them why they approved choice applications that exceeded three schools program capacity, those schools being Linden Hill, North Star and Brandywine Springs.
    Ask them why they reduced Warner program capacity by 505 students after millions were spent to improve the school? Ask them how this space is being used?
    Ask they why they approved so many out of district students to attend our schools when these parents children do not pay for any capital cost?—Get the fact on enrollment at Cab and CSW and Conrad.
    Ask them why 6-7 and 8 grade students cannot attend Cab or Conrad leaving more space for K-5 at BSS.
    Linden Hill is 1.4 miles from Heritage, Heritage feeder enrollment in 2010-2011 was 286 under program capacity. Ask them why they installed portable classrooms costing us thousand of dollars instead of adjusting Linden Hills feeder pattern? Why did they jam all these children into Linden Hill why maintaining empty space at Heritage?
    Ask them the low income percentage for all K-5 schools the year before North Star opened and for school year 2010-2011? We had 1 now we have 6.
    Ask them for enrollment figures for these years for all our K-5 schools? {Enrollment in every school declined except Linden Hill, North Star and BSS.}
    Ask them for the number of children living in Red Clay who now attend Charters and what schools they would be attending per feeder pattern if not going to a Charter School. Since North Star opened our children going to Charter schools has increased almost 100 percent.
    Ask them how much more money is going to be required every year to maintain and staff a new school, to include material and supplies, all funds from current operating funds.
    Ask them for complete details on estimates in new housing, such as when are they going to be built, not just the plans have been approved, if could take years and years for new construction.
    Contract your city, council and state officials and tell them your concern.
    Contract the Board members that were nominated from your area, ask them why they approved building a new school.

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    • Both Kilroy and Jack offer great advice so I’ll just add this:

      Type up what you’re going to say, practice and time it. They can be very strict with the 3 minute time rule… especially if they don’t like what you’re saying! :-)

      Receiving documentation on Jack’s questions is vital. If I were you I would type these out (in bullet form) make copies and hand them out to Board Members, District Officials and the Press. Be sure to pin down District on when you will receive an answer.

      Be prepared to be interviewed by the press. Simply recap your main points from your speech and stress that you need answers to your questions. My guess is the feeder enrollment vs actual enrollment numbers will be interesting. By doing this the reporter may assist you by investigating your concerns.

      If you are part of a neighborhood association… mobilize them. Even if they don’t have children in the district this will affect them – their taxes and property values.

      If you would like to discuss any of this you can contact me at pandora@delawareliberal.net

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    • Thank you! Our very supportive administrator gave us the tip about the slips and timing. At the moment we have a diverse group of only about 6 parents, but we intend to invite other parents to join us, even if they won’t be speaking. We’ll be meeting in early Feb to plan and I am definitely going to be bullet pointing heavily from this blog & your responses.

      Great suggestion about the neighborhood association – we have a wonderful one; a wonderful coalition of them in fact. I’ll try to keep them in the loop.

      Pandora, I will email you, this group of parents is passionate and has been discussing these topics for a long time, but we’re flying fairly blind in terms of acting on it.

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  9. Coolspringer:
    All the advice is correct, but needs one addition. Get there EARLY to fill out the slip. Just like the third grade exercise that it is, one way they control the rabble is by limiting the time to sign up more severely even than the limits they place on the speaking time itself. And don’t expect the slips to come out and greet you — expect to search for them.

    PROVIDED, and this is interesting, and one thing I hadn’t thought about since. Faith is one Board member who, confronted with the exclusivity of the sign up policy, and the third-graded-ness of it all, promised me, at the Vision 2015 Festival of Fancy at UD last fall, to move toward eliminating, if not to actually eliminate, the sign up requirement. I got the same from Gina from Christina.

    Please let us all know how the signup deal works these days. I’m not sufficiently healed from what I heard at the last RC meeting I sat through (and could not speak because I arrived 00:00:33 late) to go back yet.

    ALSO, you’ve been given an day and a half worth of questions. Seriously think through the point you want to make to the crowd, because the Board won’t be particularly impressed no matter. Don’t open with a raft of thank yous and appreciations and such — GET TO IT, the clock is running. And recall one very important rule of public speaking in general. The audience won’t miss what you don’t tell them.

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  10. Pandora of Delaware Liberal agrees with lastDEconservative – will lightning strike?

    Prioritize your points. Here’s two things that I would focus on, but please add more. You should be able to get through these two in 30 seconds.

    First, the new school is not necessary. Jack has provided the figures, but I’ll just post them again:

    09/30/2010

    Feeder Program
    Enrollment Capacity
    632 990 Brandywine Springs
    352 638 Heritage
    660 710 Linden Hill
    649 710 North Star
    -0- 600 New School
    2293 3648

    Choice students at the overcrowded schools:

    Brandywine Springs: 452
    Linden Hill: 130
    North Star: 123

    Total Choice: 705
    New School Capacity: 600

    The Choice Students at these “overcrowded” schools are greater than the capacity of the new school.

    Which leads me to Highlands…

    Take a look at the FAQs on RCCD’s website:

    Q: What is being done about Highlands which is equally overcrowded?

    RCCD Answer: We have been working with some engineers to look at possible options to provide additional classroom space at Highlands. We will work with the Highlands community as we have options to consider.

    So Highlands overcrowding problem will not be included in the referendum? Why not? Especially given all the focus on overcrowded schools. Are overcrowded schools a problem that must be dealt with? If so, why is Highland’s overcrowding not being addressed in this referendum?

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    • We’re Highlands parents. :) The only suggestion we have heard of was to convert our auditorium into classrooms. Which, we were told, is not a real option we need to get up in arms about at this point.

      Despite our unbalanced demographics, we’re proud of the (dwindling, I suppose) socioeconomic diversity we do have & our fabulous staff. We don’t want an overcrowded school, but people understand why it’s happening.

      The issue that comes up around school more than our isolated worries is a concern for the general lack of viable and/or non-segregated schools in the district. It’s what brought many of us to Highlands as so many city parents opted to send their children to Odyssey Charter, BSprings/Linden Hill or into the Brandywine School District.

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  11. Green slips are no big deal to fill out and they are on the table next the the hand-outs such as the meeting agenda. They need something in order to know you want to address the board. But make sure to bring them down to secretary down from, the table with the record and overhead projector setup.

    YES YES YES type out what you want to say and time yourself for the three minutes because they will cut you off at three minutes. And when you speak look directly at the board not the audience.

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