Meece wants Christina collected local school taxes but wants to be his own district at the same time

Charter schools’ five-mile enrollment under scrutiny Matthew Albright, The News Journal

The only charter that currently uses that preference is Newark Charter School, which has almost 2,000 students in grades K-10 and is expanding into a full K-12 school. Eastside Charter and the Delaware Met have approval to do so in their charter, but have not yet exercised it because they have not had more applicants than available seats.

So changing the law will have minimal effect on the charter school movement.  

Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark, says Newark Charter’s five-mile radius preference leads to de facto segregation because it is situated in a mostly white, more affluent area of town.

I thought the call for charter schools was due  tradition public schools struggling with closing the achievement gap. Doesn’t sound like this is the case with Newark Charter School. 

Kowalko has proposed House Bill 83, which would eliminate charters’ ability to give preference to nearby families. He has long criticized the five-mile radius provision, and is a frequent charter school critic.

Greg Meece, the director of Newark Charter, says he’s “confused” as to why lawmakers would want to prevent charters from having a geographical preference when traditional schools have feeder patterns that are often smaller than five miles.

“The legislature listed this preference in order to keep communities together in order to encourage parent involvement in their schools and to mirror what is done in traditional schools,” Meece said.

I see the merits of Meece’s comment but, Newark Charter limits school choice whereas in traditional public schools students can choice across school districts. So Newark Charter School ignores the spirit of the state’s Choice School Law. Should that be allowed?  

Meece argues it doesn’t make sense to compare Newark Charter’s student population to Christina’s because the two are completely different. Christina’s schools include many urban Wilmington students in addition to the Newark suburbs in which the charter is located.  

Newark Charter School is located in Christina School District and is funded in part by local school taxes collected by Christina School District. Do each of Charter School of Newark parents pay school taxes equal to the per student cost? Perhaps Charter School of Newark be funded with the exact school tax revenues collected from parents of their students. 

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24 responses to “Meece wants Christina collected local school taxes but wants to be his own district at the same time

  1. lastDEconservative

    Kilroy, you should organize a PLC for Meece and Murphy and Marxell. You can play the role of the data coach. And operate the recording device, maybe even broadcast it live. I’d pay for a connection … more for a seat.

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    • That might be the only useful PLC to happen all year long…
      PLC’s are a complete waste of time.

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    • lastDEconservative

      Having sat through, in horror, a mock PLC a couple Vision 20xx Conferences ago, I believe I may be the only non-dues paying soul in Delaware to be able to offer first hand confirmation of the condemnation due the process. This was a striking moment in my life. I truly thought we were being screened for Candid Camera, or Punk’d.

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  2. Publius e decere

    Kilroy,

    Meese is right. The 5-mile preference serves the same geographic purpose for an overapplied charter school as an attendance zone does for a “full” district managed school. When a district managed school is declared to be “full” (i.e., closed to choice) the families who live in the attendance zone get to be first in line.

    There ae differences, of course. The district can adjust the “capacity” of each school year-by-year though hardly transparent methods, and it can choose to shut down choice at any building where enrollment exceed 80% of “capacity”. If a charter had that much discretion, kowalko would be so mad his hair color would return.

    NCS doesn’t decide capriciously on its own “capacity” or on where something more that 80% “is just too much”. THE STATE and the LAWS SET BY kowalko’S LEGISLATURE limit enrollment at NCS (*), and the limit is well publicized. And in the front row of the cheering section for the Limit Team is the Christina School Board.

    NCS accepts students who apply right up to that limit, year after year. And with literally thousands more kids applying than they have seats for, NCS prioritizes the families who live nearby. A neighborhood priority, quite comparable to the attendance zones of district managed schools. Which are supposed to be established under principles of the Neighborhood Schools Act even through some districts act otherwise.

    Meese’s target is simple and consistent — NCS fills seats right up to the limit for which they are authorized. They put a priority on nearby families which makes neighborhood sense and which enhances the odds that parents will be involved in the school. Naysayers like kowalko are so blind with rage they can’t see the high public demand for NCS and its neighborhood preference.

    Publius

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    • lastDEconservative

      “THE STATE and the LAWS SET BY kowalko’S LEGISLATURE limit enrollment at NCS … ”

      “Naysayers like kowalko are so blind with rage they can’t see the high public demand for NCS and its neighborhood preference.”

      Imagine that this formula works, and you’re one of the elected, one of the elite, one of the self selected:

      “Less government … better results.”

      Not “no government,” just “less.” Naturally the more coarse among them, read JoKo Ono, run around shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre. How else to distract from the smoldering match in hand? The more restrained, sharing the outrage, do the work behind the scenes to undermine their own creation. The smarter, the wiser, the elected, those knowing better than any one or the collective of parents and children what’s best for them, undermining their own creation, and doing so among the stupefied masses with abandon.

      Did they create the beast assuming it would fail, in order to prove that “less government” is a bad idea for the government schooling (not education) leviathan? Were they not so wise after all (then), inadvertently creating a couple islands of success that make their mainland look like a ghetto, forcing the sudden derision (now)? ((This, a common manifestation of the hubris of the elected and the numbness of those they “serve” deserves its own thread)).

      Godspeed, Mr. Meece, you are playing with fire with truth telling such as this: “The legislature listed this preference in order to keep communities together in order to encourage parent involvement in their schools and to mirror what is done in traditional schools,” Meece said. I hope it is in your makeup to repeat that often enough to wake up enough of the slumbering to the reality such that they recognize … wait for it … what’s really going on here.

      Hair on fire politicians bent on distraction screaming “foul” about their own handiwork, or a calm reasoned questioner of the intentions of those on fire — in the end, the latter will out, if the message persists.

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  3. Why do parents choice?

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  4. Kwackjob at it again? Did he make fun of Jews again this time? What a f’n idiot. Is he fighting the traditional schools who have a more restrictive radius? someone… anyone run against this ahole.

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  5. #1: Christina and other districts are gerrymandered for political purposes not community purposes.
    #2: The opponents of Neighborhood schools (Eve, Mr. K, and others) ignore the benefits of neighborhood schools in lieu of political vendettas and unproven false “progressive” ideology.
    #3: The demographic of a choice school will never be the same as a TPS school because the “district”” wide data is skewed (i.e.: #1 gerrymandered district) and the act of “choosing” or enrolling in an alternative is just that; a choice. Furthermore, the demographic of a TPS school does not include private and parochial children further skewing the attendees of a TPS.

    Mr. K., you are NOT a Christina school district representative. You are a political district representative whose entire district falls within the 5 mile radius. Yes, you represent the state, but you were elected to represent YOUR district and represent what is in the best interest of your district/ community. The school lies within your district, the school’s preferences are based on NSA law, law passed by the legislature after demands by residents, the school was created by residents of the community in your district, the school was intended to serve the children of the community in your district, the founders risked the endeavor to benefit the community of your district, it seems you have a problem of understanding who you are serving and the prioritization of who deserves your commitment-YOUR community. With due respect to “good intentions”, the 5 mile radius is not the problem. A conflicted gerrymandered district, a school district besieged by political correctness, school district under inappropriate pressure from conflicted state and federal administrations AND a declining school district performance standard, there are far more urgent concerns than a 5 mile radius.

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  6. john kowalko

    Here is my explanation to a query from a parent in the Newark area who is concerned that her future grandchildren will be denied access to Newark Charter if HB 83 passes.

    Thank you for your correspondence. To be perfectly clear I have never disparaged excellent schools such as Newark Charter and applaud those parents who have chosen to place their children in that wonderful and successful learning environment that Newark Charter provides. This bill (HB83) in no way whatsoever reflects on the performance of Newark Charter or any other charter school (successful or failing). I also applaud your daughter’s choice to move into a vicinity of a successful school system. My wife and I did exactly that when we chose the Newark area to live in. Both my children attended Christina schools from K-12 and were bussed back and forth the entire time and managed to go on to very successful higher education programs. One receiving a Doctorate from Harvard and the other successfully completing Law School at American University. My point is that this bill does not attempt to dissolve any charter school, (especially not Newark Charter), nor impede any parent from accessing any charter school. Your daughter’s children will not be penalized by this bill nor denied access to the lottery currently used. The school does use a lottery but the 5 mile radius exclusion does exclude access to some of those children within the Christina District, (not the entire county), from accessing that lottery. I applaud you and your daughter’s efforts to do what’s best for your children but HB 83 does not preclude or deny any access to families living within the 5 mile radius and therefore does not penalize your daughter’s efforts to better position her children for public educational opportunities. I have no choice (as an official responsible to the public taxpayers), but to consider the fact and reality that all public schools, including charters, are funded by State taxpayer money and a large portion of local taxpayer money. These taxpayers are the residents of the entire Christina district and their contribution to the operating expenses of Christina schools and Newark Charter school is over 39% of the operating budget for the traditional schools and Newark Charter. If these taxpaying families are denied access from being allowed to be included in the lottery by geographical circumstance than it raises a serious question to equal accessibility for those children of taxpayers whose money supports the charter schools and public schools but whose children cannot be placed in the lottery if they chose to do so. It’s not a matter of penalizing your daughters future family but rather permitting a penalty of equal access denial to a publicly funded school imposed upon those public school children residing outside of the 5 mile radius. Once again I want to thank you for your willingness to share your concerns and I hope I have been able to clarify some of the misperceptions surrounding HB 83.

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    • lastDEconservative

      A challenge: Diagram this sentence for 10 points, “It’s not a matter of penalizing your daughters future family but rather permitting a penalty of equal access denial to a publicly funded school imposed upon those public school children residing outside of the 5 mile radius.”

      Bonus points for translating it from the Weasel to the King’s English.

      Caution; 15 penalty points will be assessed anyone who believes, “To be perfectly clear I have never disparaged excellent schools such as Newark Charter … “

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    • Let me reiterate: YOUR constituents reside in the 5 mile radius. PERIOD. You are proposing a bill opposing YOUR constituents. Why are you attempting to force a violation of NSA AND a community which is embracing community schooling. Furthermore why are you NOT demanding reforms in the local TPS to address why +1600-2000 families are seeking alternative schools? Are you that devoid of the obvious that it escapes you? I cannot believe that and yet you continue on this path of vendetta.

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    • Publius e decere

      This disingenuous post by Rep-k shows his astounding ignorance about how preferences and attendance zones actually work. Politics at its worst. And even sadder, he doesn’t realize it.

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  7. John – you still havent answered my question regarding the transportation for this. Those outside the 5 mile radius – or 10 miles or 15 miles – what will be the transportation requirement? will it be similar to the choice set up or will those who elect a charter school be required to provide transportation from their front door to the schools front door? what is the transportation piece of it?

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  8. john kowalko

    You should contact Mr. Meece and ask him what transportation obligations his school has and provides for its families.
    John Kowalko

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  9. John, im asking specifically about your bill. you are the one proposing to open it up beyond 5 miles, so surely you have considered that.

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  10. John – i found the answer fairly easily on their web site ”
    Newark Charter School has 27 contracted buses to provide transportation for its families who live within the five-mile radius. Bus stops have been strategically located throughout the Greater Newark Area to provide stops conveniently located for our students. In addition, many daycare and other after-school child care facilities are used as bus stops.

    All buses serving Newark Charter School conduct two morning and two afternoon runs daily. Students attending the McIntire Drive Campus (Grade 7 and higher) are transported on the first run while students who attend the Patriot Way (Grades K-6) follow an hour later.”

    however, getting a straight answer from you has been much more difficult.

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  11. I’m tired of the charter bashing. NCS is an excellent school. The fact that there is a constant waiting list to get in shows the respect it has. Fix the rest of the district, and until you’ve made significant changes, don’t ask me for more money.

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  12. john kowalko

    Arthur,
    Get a grip my man. My bills have absolutely nothing to do with transportation issues or costs in charters or traditional settings. Now if you wish to have a serious dialogue re transportation costs and allocations I suggest you enlighten yourself with some facts. Charters are given $850 + per student for transportation expenses and are required by law to return taxpayer money allocated for transportation needs that is not used for transportation needs. Traditional schools receive a formulated allotment that comes to approximately $550 per pupil and is also bound by law to return any state transportation allotment unspent for contractual student transportation obligations. Unfortunately, due to cuts (imposed by this administration) traditional school districts are forced to subsidize their actual costs with local taxpayer share since there is not enough to cover the actual costs. Now here’s where it gets tricky. Although existing written code/state-law responsibly declares that schools be held accountable for transportation fund spending and responsibly calls for a return of taxpayer funds specifically allocated for transportation needs when not used for that purpose, the existing laws have been superseded each year over the last 6-7 budgets by a little sleight of hand called “Epilogue Language”. This language is written into budgets time and time again and when the budget is passed this “Epilogue Language” becomes the law for that fiscal year superseding and contravening existing law which remains on the books albeit unenforceable. I have been to JFC hearings, numerous other meetings, hundreds of personal meetings with colleagues and written amendments to remove this ethically (if not constitutionally) challenged language to no avail. My basic argument has been that it disallows any accountability that the taxpayer deserves and violates the principle of specific allocations of taxpayer monies for specifically intended usage. Here’s the beauty in it. The last two budget dollars amounts (total) kept by charter schools of unused transportation funds: Based on information submitted by the charter schools to the Department of Education, the amount of unused transportation funds for FY 2014 was $1,108,020 (out of an allocation of $8,953,675) and for FY 2013 it was $958,275 (out of an allocation of $8,337,667). This information is statewide for charter schools and the FY 2015 data is still in development.
    This is irresponsible and unethical and it appears again (Epilogue Language to that effect) in this Governor’s proposed budget for this year. This time I will not be deterred from attempting to amend the budget (if it remains in the final draft) and hope you’ll urge and cajole your legislators to support such an amendment. If the language endures and the amendment is defeated I will be forced to pull a Colin Bonnini and vote against the budget and all of the hundreds of good things in it. I hope you can appreciate just a little bit why I’m not able to give you answers on what NCS provides by way of transportation to its students but rest assured that they have pocketed nearly and sometimes more than a quarter million dollars each year in transportation money not spent for transportation expenses. You can confirm by checking the allotment vs the checkbook account. Hope this helps you evaluate the situation and my position on these matters.
    State Representative John Kowalko

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    • Publius e decere

      Of course the rep-k is going about this all wrong. I suppose consistency is a virtue.

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    • Pray tell BM Publius, are you talking about the transportation slush fund or the five mile radius deal? I’m very interested in your thoughts on the former…

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    • John since you once again didn’t answer the question I will assume this is what you would have answered:

      In my bill I’ve made no allotment for those residing outside the 5 mile radius because I didn’t really think that far.

      My bill is meant to pander to the 50 constituents who wear goofy wigs all the time.

      My bill disenfranchises to an even greater degree the low income who may want to enroll in NCS but live in an area in red clay and have no chance of getting transportation into the school.

      In my bill all charters should be abolished and I think it’s safe and wise to send one bus up to elsmere to pick up one student because, well F Charters.
      John kowalko

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    • “My basic argument has been that it disallows any accountability that the taxpayer deserves and violates the principle of specific allocations of taxpayer monies for specifically intended usage.”
      -What accountability measures are in place to directly correct the decades long decline of the academic and behavioral standards of our TPS’s? What lever do we pull to counter the ever present social justice agenda that ignores the majority of children and subsidizes what they academically or financially contribute? Our elected officials haven’t provided this lever, quite the opposite.
      -What lever will reverse the trend of failing to provide what the majority of students “deserve” while violating the needs of the many who outweigh the needs of the few? Again our elected officials haven’t provided this lever, quite the opposite. Voting “For” a referendum hasn’t produced those results . Voting “against” only causes the machines to force another vote hoping to hook sympathy for the dysfunctional district scenarios. Catch 22.

      “rest assured that they have pocketed nearly and sometimes more than a quarter million dollars each year in transportation money not spent for transportation expenses.”
      -And how many MILLIONS have been paid to TPS districts for substandard education? Millions of dollars used on facilities and equipment only have them fall into disrepair by those entrusted to maintain them.
      -How many MILLIONS have the TPS districts “pocketed” /received via taxes paid by families that attend alternative schools?
      -How many MILLIONS have been mismanaged by (15 million in CSD alone) TPS school boards for twisted ideology’s of who is more deserving and where district monies should be allocated?
      -Yet the 800lb gorilla is the 5 mile radius?

      I’ll keep asking Mr. K. because while you are fighting one of the better schools in the state over it’s community driven preferences, our TPS’s with smaller feeder patterns are drowning in your ” exercise in free speech idiocy spewing an irrationality which seems to be epidemic among” many of our legislators.

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  13. john kowalko

    Arthur
    Your question is not a question but only an an exercise in free speech idiocy spewing an irrationality which seems to be epidemic among the anonymous cowards who can’t engage in a reasonable dialogue nor comprehend facts and circumstances. You are worth no more key strokes from me.
    State Representative John Kowalko

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  14. I love watching my rep argue on a blog like a child. Please resign… we would be better off without you. On your way out stand up w/your DSEA tshirt on and admit you hate NCS… and bend over for DSEA. You are an embarrassment to Newark and the state of DE.

    What are you doing to address the problems at CSD and the fact that NCS has the biggest waiting list in the state of DE? People are trying to get out of CSD anyway possible.

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