Delaware Governor Jack Markell crowned worst governor on public education

Slashed spending strains districts Markell says teacher jobs saved but tough choices still necessary Written by Jonathan Starkey The News Journal

Gov. Jack Markell embraces his reputation as an education governor and proudly promotes his work to protect school funding even as a lingering recession has strained state resources.

Markell promotes all the innovations so that he can create a laundry list of accomplishments even-though they weren’t too successful. He brags how Delaware has Choice schools where every student can attend a public school of their choice. But he doesn’t fess-up there is no Choice transportation and many schools are closed to Choice. He’ll blow his horn about charter schools yet he doesn’t address the re-segregation impact and the skimming and creaming fo students as he calls it. Markell made a campaign promise in 2008 to address the charter concerns and failed on that promise!

Markell counters criticisms about state cuts by arguing that he has protected funding for teachers – the largest education expense. Markell has increased state spending on teachers, providing money for new positions as enrollment has grown.   

Nothing personal union friends but Markell protected union support! And you’ll see further down in this article those new positions re: enrollment are tied to state unit allocation that Markell can’t touch! 

Markell’s first budget, passed in 2009, slashed $52 million in funding from the state’s billion-dollar public education budget, according to the Office of Management and Budget and local district business managers. According to financial records published by the Delaware Department of Education, the state’s share of public education costs dipped below 60 percent during Markell’s second year in office, meaning federal and local budgets would have to cover the difference.

Markell cuts $52,000,000,00 in funding to the schools

In 2010, Markell continued cutting, reducing by $7.1 million funding to bus students.

Among the other cuts:

• $17.5 million in “tax relief” funding that districts used to fund local operations.

• $12.5 million to support math specialists and reading resource teachers.

• $8.5 million for “extra-time” programs, such as tutoring sessions and summer school, as well as discipline funding. Some districts used discipline funding to hire School Resource Officers, armed Delaware State Troopers or local police officers.

• $4.6 million in Academic Excellence funding for computer hardware and software, substitute teachers and other expenses

All adds up to another $50,200,000.00 in cuts to local schools

Administration officials said they’re asking districts to do more – mainly, they say, to better manage their own administrative expenses.

“I think what we support is the local school districts finding efficiencies within their structure,” said Brian Maxwell, deputy director of Markell’s Office of Management and Budget. “We don’t dictate to them.”

“We don’t dictate to them.” WTF !!!! I was there when DE DOE Dan dictated to Red Clay School Board either sign the Race to The Top MOU or fund those programs out of local dollars! Looks what’s going on in Christina School District! Markell is forcing the district to give ridicules $20,000.00 teacher bonuses for people who get paid to do that job. Come on Deputy Dog fess-up Markell dictates to everybody in Dover!

There have been increased expenses, though, confronting districts and the state, including rising personnel and energy costs. For every dollar of salary, districts and the state now pay 20 cents each toward pension obligations, up 28 percent since Markell took office.

In English = when the state increases their % contributions to the pension fund the district and charter schools are required to increase their % of contributions. Another Markell backdoor tax on local taxpayers. Also, for I forget, ask Markell how much that job including benefits and pension contributions cost for the job he created for Judas? 

Districts did have a federal backstop for the first couple of years of the cuts.

In 2010 and 2011, an infusion of federal money from President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan and a $10 billion account to fund teachers’ salaries helped districts survive reductions in state support

We’re talking the Ed Jobs bill where Delaware received $27,425,111.00. But isn’t interesting cash-strapped school districts like Red Clay gave administrators raises and paid for golf outings with RCEF. Also, good source says Markell asked supers to use some of the funding to back fill his state cuts! So the fed Ed Jobs funding saved (short-term) Jobs directly impacted by Markell’s action. 

More than $50 million came from the federal government in each 2010 and 2011. Race to the Top funding also helped districts cope with losses. The impact varied widely across districts. In Brandywine, federal dollars helped fund science education and Advanced Placement programs, said Holodick, the superintendent there.

So Holodick is saying he used RTTT funding to supplement jobs outside the scope of RTTT  related funded positions? And he couldn’t use $1500.00 to setup a digital recorder to record public sessions of board meetings. I wonder how much money could be saved if there were better transparency of our school districts? 

As that federal assistance expired, Markell inserted $27.4 million in the current year’s budget that districts are able to use flexibly. It replaced more prescriptive funding, something districts had requested. But the new money accounted for less than half of the original state cuts.

Now look at that, he inserted $27.4 million dollars nearly the same amount of the Ed Jobs funding from the fed of $27.4 million dollars. Look here, this is from the feds and look under Delaware. Well at least he is honest when told the district supers to use fed money to back-fill state funded programs and he’ll repay them.

Superintendents urged Markell in October to restore some funding lost in the last four years and called specifically for money to update computers used to administer state testing and hire more tech workers who could keep the computers running.

“School districts are facing a critical problem in meeting the rapid demands created by increased technology usage” for student testing, wrote Michael Thomas, superintendent of the Capital School District and president of the Delaware Chief School Officers Association

Anybody want to take a stab at how much computer equipment and maintenance cost for those computers used for DCAS? Wait until the Smarter Balanced Assessment test start. More student data will be needed and maintained. Greater security will be needed because of exposure being part of a national data linked Smarter Balanced Assessment consortium. Did the state legislators approved the Smarter Balanced Assessment? Don’t need to, Markell owns them! Keep an eye on Red Clay when Coach Murphy comes selling the Smarter Balanced Assessment! We’ll see what little Jimmy Hoffa is made of ! But it’s just a shell game because the Smarter Balanced Assessment is a done deal where the district and charters have NO CHOICE but to conform.

The Delaware Department of Education included $8.5 million in its budget request for new computers and tech support. But the money was jettisoned by the governor’s office and administration budget officials.

Perhaps it’s time to jettison Judas and some of those Rodel Clones! DE DOE is too fat and I think John Carney may have been correct in suggesting decentralizing DE DOE. DE DOE has become a puppet show for Jack Markell’s personal ambitions. So the district and charter schools will have to pay millions in maintaining computer needed for the Smarter Balanced Assessment! Yep you got it, local taxpayers will be asked to pickup the tab!

“When push came to shove for us, are we going to fund the additional teachers or are we going to fund technology?” Markell said. “We always have to make choices, and it would be wonderful to be in a place where we don’t have to make any difficult choices.” 

That’s because computers don’t carry union cards! Why not dump Teach for America? Dump the Chinese language! I am all for Pre-K but the lack of technology harms K-12! We need to make difficult choices.

In some communities, the cuts translated into higher taxes. Appoquinimink and Colonial both attribute the need for higher taxes in part to the recession-era reductions from the state.

Yep Kilroy was correct, local taxpayers will be forced to back-fill Markell’s state cuts and Race to The Top.

Folks if we had better transparency of our schools we would see better efficiency of public education funding and cost savings. Keep an eye out for those crying digital recorders will break the bank! Those are the ones who want to work in the dark.

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5 Responses

  1. Kilroy, SBAC tests will have a large written component which will be sent off to a vendor for grading. No, you don’t get your answers back to review or challenge them.

  2. great post, Kilroy.

  3. Reblogged this on Transparent Christina.

  4. One thing that struck me in the article is APPO funding being described as a kind of a ponzi scheme where NCC’s new home construction in APPO MUST stay ahead of spending. The lag in construction is being blamed for APPO’s current woes.
    Obviously key here is that the new home construction formula is, by the DDOE’s own admission, underfunding the cost of additional school capacity by 60 percent and violating the spirit of adequate facility law if not the law itself.
    In response to questions from the public at NCC Executive Coons’ Workforce Housing workshop, a DDOE staffer cited that the cash payment to districts “in lieu of capacity” formula collects 5K per new unit when the actual cost is 15K.
    Ironically it was then State House Rep. and APPO resident Dick Cathcart’s 1995 law prohibiting the consideration of classroom capacity in NCC’s land use development approval process that is largely to blame for this mess now.

    APPO is building capacity for the new homes already built by betting that new future homes would pay the way. The previous APPO superintendent wasn’t shy in telling DDOE that they needed to correct the capacity formula but when has DDOE done anything it should do?

  5. State reduced revenue by $27.5 million, federal increase by $100, local increased $11.3 million–trouble in River City.

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