Education General Assembly

Colonial School District Facing $13 million in Cuts – The Perfect Storm

Colonial School District is facing the perfect storm: State budget cuts + a crucial Referendum vote June 6.

Gabe Phillips from Colonial School District posted this status this morning:

<<begin status>>

“Last night our Board of Education approved a plan due to the failed referendum that will ultimately cut 175 staff members in the district. Staff members across the district will be finding out if they are affected by this over the next few days. If you live in Colonial I urge you to vote for this referendum. If you don’t live in district, I urge my friends to tell people you know to vote. If you have questions, email me, call me or ask me here. I love this place and I’m fortunate to work with the people I do. My kids are fortunate to have been taught by some of the best educators Delaware has seen. This is our home.”

*********************** <</end status>>

175 is an insane amount of staff to be firing from a school district that employs 1,404 (as of the September 30, 2016 unit count). That’s a 12.5% staff reduction that includes not just educators, but support & administrative staff as well.

Now, that number will come down somewhat after a wave of retirements comes through (which usually happens this time of year anyway) but Colonial is in a bit of a unique situation here. We’ve all heard about the Governor’s proposed budget cuts to public education, so the 175 includes planning for Colonial’s portion of the anticipated State funding cuts ($1.8 million in Education Sustainment + $1.6 million in Operations = $3.4 million total), but it also includes a staffing reduction contingency should the District fail in its second attempt to pass an operating referendum on June 6. This contingency calls for ~$10 million in budget cuts for the next fiscal year in order for Colonial to meet it’s legally required operating revenue conditions.

Let me say that another way. Up in the air, right now, for Colonial School District is an approximate total $13.4 MILLION in funding. With several variables controlling what will happen going forward.

I don’t know the breakdown of numbers of employee types that will be let go because the District does not publish that information. It was presented to their Board in Executive Session for their discussion, followed by a vote on the proposal which was approved.

There is, however, a VERY helpful presentation put together by District staff that was utilized¬†at their Board Workshop on April 27th, aptly titled “The Perfect Storm”:

Board workshop 4 27 17.pptx

The initial projection of 120 employees affected as shown in the PowerPoint has obviously grown to 175.

When people blow hot air about Districts “always” asking for more money when they come out for an Operating Referendum they are quick to point out their hard-nosed deeply held “belief” that all districts are fat with administrative positions they “don’t need”, when that money should be put towards the classrooms. In fact, I responded (again) to one such enlightened individual just this morning on the Facebooks.

Now, go on and tell me that the affected 175 people aren’t needed in Colonial.

There is no option here, Colonial must pass their referendum on June 6th, and the General Assembly must fully fund our schools.

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.

6 comments on “Colonial School District Facing $13 million in Cuts – The Perfect Storm

  1. Good, about time the schools take responsibility and do some belt tightening!

  2. Not a good look for a wanna be jobs governor, I think.

  3. evolvde

    I’m in Colonial, but don’t have kids. I am happy to vote yes, but they do a terrible job of getting the word out. Appo had a great campaign last time which basically was Good Schools = Higher Property Values. People fail to make that link. The next neighborhood over is in Appo – their houses sell for 50-75k more. Only difference I see is school district. Colonial has great programs that I believe in. But they gotta GOTV.

  4. It’s sad that this District has become nothing but “do a bad job, and ask the Residents for help”. This District failed a construction audit, because they did not either have accurate information or no information on their expenditures. This info can be found on the state of DE website. And this article is coming from an individual of Friend’s of Colonial. If you want changes get cut back all the extra administration and get people in there who actually know how to be ran by a budget. It’s ridiculous. The Governor’s Proposed Budget is increasing taxes for everyone, taking away $100.00 from the senior property tax Program and allowing a district to increase taxes WITHOUT a Referendum. Enough is enough. We have a say so in this vote such as we did in February. We may not have a say so if the governor’s budget is approved.

    • Tina, thanks for illustrating you still have no grasp on what’s actually going on, not only in Colonial, but in the State as a whole. We sparred before the last Referendum over your complete lack of information and very plain hate for a school district because of personal feelings. Take your fake news and ad hominem antics to another page. They don’t work here.

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