Daily Archives: February 19, 2013

Something looks very fuzzy with a certain charter schools annual report and I am not talking about Pencader @netDE #edude @destateboarded

Annual Reports by Charter Schools

§ 513. Reporting and oversight(a) On or before November 1, each charter school shall produce an annual report for the school year ending the previous June, which shall discuss the school’s progress in meeting overall student performance goals and standards and contain a financial statement setting forth by appropriate categories the school’s revenues and expenditures and assets and liabilities. To ensure that such reports provide parents and approving authorities with clear and comparable information about the performance of charter schools, the Department of Education shall prescribe a uniform format for such reports, which may be supplemented by requirements set by the approving authority for schools it has chartered. The charter school shall contract to have an audit of the business and financial transactions, records, and accounts after July 1 for the prior fiscal year. The results of the audit shall be shared with the Department of Education. A charter school shall display on its website the annual report including financial statement and audit required by this subsection.(b) The annual report shall be submitted to the approving authority, the Department and the State Board. Employees of the school and parents of students attending the school shall receive a copy free of charge, upon request. The reports shall be public records pursuant to Chapter 100 of Title 29.

Go look at DMA’s annual report and compare it to CSW. See what is missing on DMA’s 

Delaware Military Academy
2011-12 Annual Report

Charter School of Wilmington
2011-12 Annual Report

Here is a link to all charter schools annual reports are list and where I copied DMA’s and CSW’s

More on pending DMA State Auditor’s report

Here is a letter / notice on DMA’s website in regards to pending State Auditor’s audit report. It appears there have been some poor procedures in reimbursement practices involving staff. I haven’t see the report but these military guys are sticklers on documentation and forms! So I just think the auditor’s report is a nudge to follow better procedures aligned with state’s best practices. You can visit the Delaware Online Checkbook Registry and go to education then DMA and view reimbursements. So it’s all documented but like I said, perhaps not aligned with state’s best practices go here Checkbook.delaware.gov   I think these transparency features and hope more to come are great! Also, it good to know we have some sense of checks and balances. It “appears” DMA does not have a P-Card / State issues Credit Card. I think getting one might be helpful But all and all, I think problem will be corrected and certainly no serious wrong doing otherwise the AG would be involved. DMA is a great charter school and a valued asset to the community. 

ALSO A DIRECT LINK TO LETTER @ DMA’s WEBSITE HERE

Delaware Sussex County Council member donates $$$ to a charter school. Relax no big deal!

Wilson opens councilmanic wallet wide for charter school Posted on February 19, 2013 by James Fisher

Sam Wilson, who represents chicken-and-soybean country on the Sussex County Council, is not a big spender. He’s a reliable voice for questioning government spending by the  county, and that holds true for the pool of funds that he, like every councilmember, can give to community groups in small grants of a few hundred dollars at a time.

But Wilson surprised his colleagues Tuesday when he said he’d be willing to send $1,000 to the Sussex Preparatory Academy, a charter school expanding from serving middle school grades to high schoolers. The Academy, which is swapping school buildings with Delmarva Christian, explained in its “ask letter” that state charter school funding doesn’t pay for facility construction or renovation by charter schools.

Read entire post here………………….

County elected officials don’t vote on laws governing funding of public schools. So Sam Wilson’s decision is a personal choice. Does it send a message that he doesn’t support traditional public education? No necessarily!

Charter schools are part of the Choice school process and that is why I support them. I just don’t support schools charter or traditional public schools that fail to adhere to transparency laws and open meeting laws. 

Some of the charter school laws I’d like to see changed is prohibiting elected officials from sitting on charter school boards and prohibiting charter school board members from sitting on other charter school boards and traditional charter school boards. Also, charter school board members should be required to live in the state.   

 

Delaware News Journal sticks it’s tail up it’s ass re: Pencader

Vote to keep Pencader Charter school open Feb. 18, 2013 11:14 PM,

  • Opinion

  • Our View

A year after escaping a state-ordered shutdown due to financial mismanagement, Pencader Charter Business and Finance High School remains in dire need of critical budgetary and administrative oversight. Eight months ago, that was this paper’s opening paragraph to an editorial. A few months later we called for new leadership and training of the school’s board members and staff with regard to their fiduciary responsibility in managing state revenues.

Finally, we urged removal of the head of the school. Today we categorically urge the state Board of Education to allow Pencader to continue operating. It has willingly and thoughtfully made the necessary changes to earn a reprieve.

Well folks and good news for Pencader parents and students, this piece by the News Journal is code for the Delaware State Board of Education will give a yes to keep Pencader open. However as of today Pencader has not produced a final FY2013 board approved budget and that is a concern. Pencader has recruited the aid of the former Red Clay super and former board president who helped steer Red Clay into bankruptcy requiring the Red Clay community to take action that resulting in purging the board and the super to step-down via retirement. They both are very knowledgeable and in fact are part of the rat pack who gave us charter schools a good thing. However, their  obsession to do so wrecked havoc on Red Clay schools like Dickinson and McKean. My concern for Pencader if it moves forward would be a sprinkle of the old Red Clay style of management of backroom deals ! But on the bright side we may see some $$ donation to Pencader. 

Pencader finally has an experienced team at the helm, trained in the regulations regarding operations, reporting and distribution of state funds.

Interesting Pencader sits an a final fy2012 annual financial report / audit completed in November 2012 and releases it to DE DOE on February 15, 2013 and not post it on their website. Also. Pencader continues to disregard the law that requires them and all charter schools to post this years 2012 and last year’s 2011 IRS 990 form and agian Pencader has not produce a board approved fy2013 final budget. I find it interesting the News Journal’s reporters take pride in trying to report based on fact but yet big guy at the time proclaims all financial reporting is stellar.

And their managers publicly committed to being held accountable to oversight by the state board. It helps tremendously that new Board President Frank McIntosh has established relationships with the state’s successful charter schools and Parent Teacher Association, yet another factor that makes a vote to keep Pencader open a good investment for Delaware.

Pencader Frank is growing on me and I don’t question his leadership skills but his hands-one direct public education is new to him. And he is seeking help with  that personal deficiency. But clearly he must see the seed that was a barrier to effective communication to the board and parents is still among him. If parents were more informed of financial structural failure which is at the root cause of Pencader problems as a result of a failed school leader, Pencader wouldn’t be under review and the ax. Parent representatives on the board are just that! They are not administrators and should act as if they are! Don’t you agree Cindy? 

Kilroy has been yelling fire re: lack of transparency and is a villain because he won’t look the other way like the News Journal. 

Pencader Board President Frank McIntosh will do a great job now that the ownership of Pencader belongs to the board not the school leader. Handpicking board members by a school leader is dangerous as it creates a divide on the board, one supports the personal needs of the school leader and the other support the reality of how a school should operate. Former board president HE was the the side of how a school should operate but was beaten back by former school leader loyalists and apparently by direct interference of a charter school organizing group who protected the former school leader.

If you were born and raised in Delaware you know the Delaware way re: politics! The News Journal’s piece is code that a vote to keep Pencader open has been predetermined by Governor Markell the self proclaimed Delaware Education Czar. 

So an early congratulation to Pencader parents, students and teachers. To Pencader Franks best wishes and please continue getting the $$$ cards out on the table. I hope the Red Clay boys and CSW can help you with recruitment and donors. Both have great knowledge and skills and just need to keep egos in check! 

By chance and it will be a slim one, if Pencader is ordered closed please note and remember the News Journal takes credit for, ” Eight months ago, that was this paper’s opening paragraph to an editorial. A few months later we called for new leadership and training of the school’s board members and staff with regard to their fiduciary responsibility in managing state revenues”. Sadly it sounds like their editors manipulated their reporter’s stories to drive out school leader and school board and question the News Jounral claim they are non-bias. Kilroy and other blogger don’t command the attention the News Journal does and they put their flag in being down the former school leader and board! But the vote will be a good one for Pencader because the News Journal wouldn’t put their neck in the political rope. Mark Murphy is a political puppet and don’t have an independent backbone! All strings lead to Jack Markell and from there to Rodel and the business community who feeds the News Journal’s ads  revenues. 

  

Word has it a state auditor’s report on DMA is due out today #netDE #edude @dedeptofed

I am not totally sure what this pending DMA report will say good or bad! However, it’s due out today. I’ll post it as soon as I can get a copy. Let’s hope for a good report! DMA is an charter school!

Markell’s Brenford elimination is a disservice to kids in need of mental heath treatment #netDE

Facility plan draws lawmakers’ questions Troubled teens housed in Kent would move to center in Middletown Written by Doug Denison The News Journal Feb. 18, 2013 11:48 PM,

Gov. Jack Markell’s recommended budget for the Division of Services for Children, Youth and their Families calls for the closing of the Brenford residential treatment facility near Cheswold. Accompanying the plan is $263,000 to lease additional space at the Silver Lake residential treatment center in Middletown.

Shame on you Jack! Years ago Governor Pete DuPont move adolescents out of the Governor Bacon Health Center into Residential Treatment Centers. One of the goals was to reduce the institutionalization stigma and provide a home-like setting as all children should have. These children aren’t harden criminals though some are delinquent but many aren’t. Some of their delinquent offenses are related to their need for psychiatric treatment specialized needs and often related to families in crisis. Just as special ed students have an IEP, children in a RTC (Residential Treatment Centers) have individual treatment plans, That treatment often includes treatment for the families to provide parents the tools to help themselves and child in treatment with ultimate goal of allowing the child to go home.

Believe it or not Kilroy was once employed at an RTC operated by NET a private vendor and this when I met Dana Garrett a staff person at the time. I was attending college at the time pursuing a degree in Human Services. I had a full-time job elsewhere and my involvement as a volunteer for NET lead to part-time then full-time work later retreating back to the business world for better pay. If anything these individuals serving this demanding population are severely underpaid.

Jack Markell forgets to mention, closing Brenford and increasing capacity by adding more kids at Middletown leads to greater stress for those kids in treatment and staff. Keeping emotionally disturbed adolescent on task and focus is part of their treatment and one kid acting out can upset the apple cart and set-off the entire group of kids. Some of you with large families with 5 or more kids know how a sense of order and routine is important. Now image if you had 10 kids all with emotional / psychiatric disorders, Even with three staff on duty that’s 3 kids (residents as they are called) to one staff and it’s not like these kids are sheep. They are doing chores, school work, in group and individual counselling session, recreation activities and even in timeout. They all need constant supervision.

I respect the Governor’s effort to look for cost savings but he is changing the dynamics of the treatment needed for these kids and creating greater strain on the ability of staff serving their needs. Also, it could disrupt treatment needs that may result in longer stays and creating waiting list for other kids in need. When it comes to serving children with intense needs bigger isn’t always better. Also, many of these kids lack trust in adults and often it  is one staff investing time in those needs that builds the relationship of trust. When crisis breaks-out at one of these RTC it relies on trust relationship to bring a child off the emotional cliff resulting to no harm to anyone in the house and no criminal charges for the child acting out.

I can only ask Governor Markell to look elsewhere for budget cuts and ask legislators to take the time to talk to those front-line staff persons in these treatment centers. Former Governor Pete DuPont took that time and it resulted in getting “kids” out of institutions that were nothing but human warehouses. I suggest Governor Markell take a hard look at the Delaware Department of Education which is over-bloated with administrators and consultants.

The Middletown facility also houses eight teens, as well as the counseling spaces and classrooms where the Brenford residents come for school and treatment – daily trips that cost valuable therapy time.

The consoidation of day treatment re: classrooms /school is to help integrate these kids back into classroom settings whereas when they return home they will be going back to regular public schools and back into regular ed for most.

Cycyk said the Brenford home, first leased by the state in 1984, is no longer adequate to support the services now being provided to residents. Boys and girls sleep separately, but have little privacy in the house, she said, and the building lacks separate spaces for family visits and counseling sessions. The house also lacks adequate lines of sight for staff charged with monitoring the residents.

Buy creating a bigger group home for needed “beds” doesn’t do much for privacy. Also, BS on on lack of adequate lines of sight. Staff aren’t suppose to sit in a guard tower! They are to rotate around the house even at night. These group homes are very active and staff needs to be circulating and at all time involving themselves in activities. I use to take residents on recreation trips to the roller skating rink. Our kids would misbehave while skating and other staff with me would yell at them from the sidelines as the kids came around! Me, I’d put on the skate and be out there with then supervising when needed and yep those little devils would sneak behind me tripping me like they were roller derby stars :).

At a JFC hearing last week, an administrator at the house said patience is wearing thin among neighbors, who deal with traffic and the occasional late-night mischief of the Brenford teens.

See late-night mischief  relates to lack of staff whereas program supervisor thinks kids just sleep at night! And those of us who worked the 7-3 shift would at times find night staff sleeping upon our arrival. Night-staff are usually the ones least paid and you get what you pay for. But many night staff are amazing and good crisis interventionist where a few carry the shift. They need reliable teammates.

Moving these Brenford kids to Middletown a more highly populated community will see those re: late-night mischief ending up in the town and getting into more trouble where the police might be involved.

Looking for ways to save the state money is noble but the treatment needs of these kids as individuals in more important. Delaware use to and I assume still do send a lot of kids out of state to places like Kids Peace in PA and often when these kids age out of the program at 18 are given a week or two at local motel and it’s have a nice life. Trouble kids often leads to troubled adults and adult crimes. 

What would happen if we were to double the class sizes of special ed students in severe need! That would be a mortal sin! Markell is putting budget cutting for this group home above the real service needs of these kids. If there weren’t a dire need to cut the budget there would be no issue with Brenford but perhaps better paid staff and more staff. Let’s no go back to the days when we warehoused these kids! Increasing stimulation by consolidation of these group homes will not benefit these kids and mostly increase their stay and cost to the state. But also keep kids in need of these programs waiting for treatment.

Legislators if you visit these group homes don’t let the supervisor give you a walking tour. Talk to the staff one on once and let them know your conversation are confidential and don’t forget to visit the night-staff.