NJ letter writer provokes more questions and concerns about a Red Clay takeover of Wilmington schools

What will happen to Red Clay schools? Delaware Voice Susan Arruda

As a taxpayer in the Red Clay Consolidated School District, a former teacher, and an advocate for children in foster care and community volunteer, I am disappointed by the recent signing of two bills by Gov. Markell regarding the redistricting of Wilmington schools.

 I thought I was the only one on this island.

I feel that this project will lead to the demise of the Red Clay School District and, as a result, to the property values of our homes.

Yep Red Clay will implode from the added weight of serving more at-risk student with no real reform in funding such as weight-base funding. But the silver-lining is, Pete DuPont and his Cesar Rodney Institute puppet show will have more fuel to push their school voucher agenda.  

As I see it, the suburban taxpayer, who has no say in this decision, will be stuck with very high property bills for the acquisition and spending on these schools “acquired” from Colonial and Christiana.

But for sure, property taxes will also go up in Christina and Colonial. But keep in mind they’ll go up for commercial property whereas, those $$ overhead cost will be passed on the the consumer. Also, there will be the impact on jobs and wages. The question will be, can Wilmington leaders fire-up non property owners to come out and vote yes to trump those actually paying property taxes voting  no? 

I have worked with children who have gone to these “priority” schools and others being acquired as a part of this deal. Many of their parents are unable to pay their bills, rent, food, etc., and they’ve expressed their inabilities to purchase these items for their kids in recent articles on school-supply giveaways. How are they going to pay school taxes to ensure that these schools are on par as some other schools in Red Clay? Who and what is going to suddenly convince them that they should now take part in their kids’ education, when we’ve not seen that happening in the past?

It’s for the kids battle cry ! Same goes for Red Clay’s board supporting $$$$ raises for district administration positions. 

The governor stated that “We all want the same things for our children – fair chance to make use of their abilities and fulfill their potential.” How is this move going to change things?

Markell is a lair. 

A big issue here has to do with money and equal resources. There is already a vast difference in our current Red Clay schools; who’s going to ensure that the city schools are equal to those in the suburbs? The kids in my neighborhood attend Linden Hill and North Star and many will now be going to Cooke. These schools are full of resources that are sorely lacking in the city. The children I mentor attended Highlands. These children have had excellent and caring administrators, teachers and staff; the problem is that there weren’t enough paraprofessionals, counselors and resource specialists in a school that definitely needed them!

The big difference is parental engagement whereas more affluent suburban parents are engaged at the school level. But more importantly suburban parents know how to organize and raise hell at board meetings.  When has Wilmington parents and community come to a Red Clay board meeting and demanded traditional middle and high school services in Wilmington? The voice of Wilmington parents has been high-jacked by the like of Rodel. Even the Twins look the other way as Title 1 Section 1118 is defaced.

I did receive some communication from Kenneth J. Rivera, chair of Red Clay’s Board of Education. He noted that Red Clay will be having town hall meetings for district residents to “help them determine their position.” He also said that “no planning will proceed without a fair funding proposal” and that “funding needs to be fair and no additional burden be placed on Red Clay residents.” So, who’s going to pay for the “new” Red Clay schools?

However at the end of the day politics will rule and the merger will happen. Look around, you have Rep Mike Ramone,  Rep Hudson and Rep Miro standing in the shadows giving Markell the thumbs-up. They want Red Clay to implode so that the school vouchers movement has a better chance. Kenny is fighting a losing battle. But keep an eye on Kenny, he’ll ask provoking question and stir the debate pot. 

I also find it interesting that, except for Baynard (6-8), there are no middle or high schools in the city and there was no mention in any of this discussion about middle and high school education for city residents. So the children go to elementary schools in the city and then what?

Word has it Red Clay’s Wilmington Campus will be converted back into a traditional high school and Bancroft will be come K-8.  CAB will be relocating and Charter School of Wilmington will be ask to find another home. Red Clay will be forced to follow the Neighborhood School Act (law) as they reshape Wilmington schools  to better meet the intent of the law. Building Cooke and North Star was required as the district had to “follow the law”. But keep in mind the needs and requirement of city schools will have a $$$$ on Red Clay suburban schools.  Red Clay will assume some of Christina’s $$$ debt ! Next year the state will be stepping in and here comes Frank and the FRT. The State loan payment requirements will end up Red Clay’s burden on % proportionate bases.  

Finally, I (as an educator and parent) and my fellow educators, neighbors and family, lived through the disastrous desegregation and its aftermath on both city and suburban communities. This new program is going to re-segregate schools and communities in the city and suburbs, and the costs will be absorbed mostly by suburban taxpayers.

Wilmington schools are already re-segregated but via De facto segregation due to lack of preferential Choice transportation and the effects of charter, magnet and votech specific interest student admission rules approved by law.

Red Clay will not bus white students into Wilmington to address the racial imbalance and can’t set new feeder-pattern requiring Wilmington students to be bused to Red Clay’s suburban schools. Red Clay will have more city schools and latitude to reshape them into Neighborhood  Schools. The fallout being being less Wilmington children being bus to Red Clay suburban schools. The intent of the redrawing the district lines is about “academics” not concerns with re-segregation. HOWEVER, the federal courts will be back in about three years after the merger. Red Clay’s building of new white suburban schools will be used as evidence whereas at the same time building new schools for predominately white communities Red Clay did nothing to address the traditional middle and high school needs of Wilmington’s black-children. Red Clay claims their school suburban expansion was required based on the NSA. Yet, no such concerns we’re raised about Red Clay lacking middle and high schools in Wilmington. No space they say! CAB and CSW all choice specific interest schools where blacks particularly black at-risk needs are under-represented. The reality is, civil rights for white trumps that of blacks. Red Clay can move CAB to either Dickinson or McKean and merge McKean and Dickinson that are only a few mile a part! Both location have ground space for expansion to accommodate.

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One response to “NJ letter writer provokes more questions and concerns about a Red Clay takeover of Wilmington schools

  1. t has been shown, there is no sense just busing students around. The City needs schools and PS can be a High School again. Hometown pride is established at Howard along with options for a chosen career path. Charter schools are really just Vo-Techs for alternative careers, like banking and math. The future worth building is the Vo-Tech model for 21st Century skills and academics. Incorporate the current NCC Vo-Tech and the Wilmington improvement movement together. Bring in the 4 or 5 current districts for efficiency and tax across the County equally.

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