Education

Christina Board Refuses Program Cuts

After two solid hours of impassioned pleas from students, teachers, parents, graduates, and other advocates during the public comment portion of tonights Board of Education meeting, the Board made its way through the list of options presented to reduce the budget gap Governor Carney is forcing on the District. The programs that were on the list tonight were identified as impacting the fewest number of students should they be cut.

The total amount of cuts that must be made in the District: $6 million.

Motion to Reduce Department Budgets: Yes: 0 No: 6 – Motion fails.

Motion to Reduce School Budgets: Yes: 2 No: 4 – Motion fails.

Motion to Decrease Technology Investment: Yes: 3 No: 3 – Motion fails.

*it should be noted that Board Member Saffer stated that we made the commitment during a referendum to invest in technology and that referendum ultimately passed and that we could not just overturn what the voters said we should do. This particular item on the cut list is completely unrelated to the 10 cent referendum that provides funds for technology. This technology investment is in addition to the funds provided from the referendum.

Motion to Decrease Professional Development: Yes: 4 No: 2 – Motion carries.

Motion to Not Fill Currently Open Non-Academic Positions: Yes: 6 No: 0 – Motion carries

Motion to Reduce EPER (Extra Pay for Extra Responsibility, compensation for teachers who coach or run clubs after school): Yes: 4 No: 2 – Motion carries.

Motion to Integrate Sarah Pyle Academy into the 3 District High Schools: Yes: 0 No: 6 – Motion fails.

Motion to Discontinue Elementary Instrumental Music: Yes: 0 No: 6 – Motion fails.

Motion to Discontinue Elementary & Secondary Strings: Yes: 0 No: 6 – Motion fails.

Motion to Discontinue Montessori Program: Yes: 1 No: 5 – Motion fails.

Motion to Eliminate Academic Deans: Yes: 0 No: 6 – Motion fails.

The vast majority of failed motions were programs. If we can’t make cuts to programs, the only other place to cut is in personnel.

The question you’re asking is: “Now what?” Well. Now District administration must come up with $6 million in personnel cuts. Class sizes will go up.

This scene will be repeated in every other District. If they can’t cut programs, they will cut people. A lot of people.

A dad, husband, and public education supporter. Serving on Christina School District's Citizens' Budget Oversight Committee since 2013. Co-chair of Christina's 2016 Referendum Committee. Often found lurking at Christina's Board of Ed meetings, furiously Tweeting and wielding my +15 Memes of Comedic Relief melee weapon to try and explain what's going on. I have to make it fun, or you'll just cry. Trying to be knowledgable about all things public education in Delaware; finances, operations, laws and spread understandable information to everyone. If you see me, say hi.

5 comments on “Christina Board Refuses Program Cuts

  1. It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Cut programs the support a broad educational experience for kids or cut the educators. It’s a genuinely horrible choice.

    What cuts do charter schools face in this budget?

    • Depends on a couple of things. The Governor has specifically stated he’s cutting Education Sustainment Funds ($ for people) by $22 million and Charter & District Operations ($ for things) by $15 million

      For ESF it depends on how districts make cuts and how they shift types of funds to cover the losses. The more unrestricted local funding ($ from property taxes that isn’t needed for protected expense categories) Districts use to make up for the ESF cuts, the less impact Charters will feel.
      For the Operations cuts ($15 million), Charters will take a hit there with no recourse. Districts can mitigate the hit they take here by cutting personnel costs (aka- firing people). The state will shift its share of funds for unfilled positions to the Operations side and use it to reduce the cut the District faces.

  2. John Young

    I can only offer the rationale for my own votes. The choices are terrible ones, but the targeted cutting of programs solely for the purpose of not cutting more teachers indiscriminately would deeply affect our schools and community as evidenced by the outpouring of support in defense of many of our treasured and valuable offerings. However, by forcing a deeper, more widespread release of teachers, we may indeed me more inclined to use the proposed match tax ability to “remain whole” . I fear that the programmatic cuts, had they been accepted, would have permitted the BOE wit wrestle with and perhaps not use the match tax to save a program we will have committed to cutting 2 months earlier (as it will be in the timeline to be).

    There was strategy in the vote last night. When the headline RIF number comes out, we’ll have 6 weeks to rattle the GA.

    Of note, ZERO state elected officials attended last night. ZERO.

    I’m absolutely heartsick over this whole thing.

  3. I hope that strategy helps. I’m parent of a 2nd grader that absolutely loves art and music and a parent of a 7th grader that loves band and his BPA club. All of those programs were on the block last night. I’ve been nauseous since the budget shortfall was announced by DEFAC because we all knew what was coming. There is no way I wanted to see them lose those programs.

    The other side is that they may now lose some of their favorite teachers, and find themselves in a much more crowded classroom, with more stressed teachers, in a school of more stressed kids and administrators.

    Which one of those is the better option? Neither. There is no good outcome to this unless the GA gets off its collective ass and does something about State revenue issues, like they should have done last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that..

    John, I appreciated your ‘prologue’ to the action items last night. It did help bring some clarity to what was happening and why.

    Based on the value of an ‘earned teaching unit’ from the state, my initial ballpark estimate for the RIF total is in the triple digits. 105 teachers. Possibly 120 educator positions in total. Maybe more.

    • 105 or 120 — multiply that across other school districts and it starts to look like the so-called jobs governor really isn’t interested in holding on to every job that we have.

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