On Colonial’s Referendum and Its Impacts

To often when we talk about school referendums here in Delaware, the conversation divorces funding from the people whom the funding ultimately supports. It becomes a "thing", and a personal one. Money. We tend not to fully translate the effects of funding cuts to the impact it has on people in our schools. People who live and breathe Colonial School District and the work it does lost their jobs. THOSE are the kind of people our schools need.

A new-found friend of mine posted this on social media today. To often when we talk about school referendums here in Delaware, the conversation divorces funding from the people whom the funding ultimately supports. It becomes a “thing”, and a personal one. Money. We tend not to fully translate the effects of funding cuts to the impact it has on people in our schools. People who live and breathe Colonial School District and the work it does lost their jobs. THOSE are the kind of people our schools need. For everyone who says “Schools are a mess” and votes against referendums, you do nothing to make things better. You only remove the supports our schools sorely need. You make what you see to be “a mess” worse.

So this friend of mine, who is out there spreading Colonial’s message on behalf of those who will no longer have jobs in the District as of July 1, made it personal. Translation complete. When you let good people go, it’s difficult if not impossible to get them back.

June 6, 2017 from 10am-8pm is Colonial’s Referendum. If you live in the district, or know people who do, please encourage them to cast their vote FOR the Referendum. In doing so, they’re casting a vote FOR the District and the 10,000 students it supports.

At the end of the day, the Colonial Referendum isn’t about business. It isn’t about money. It’s about people; children from ages 3 years old to ages 21 years old, their families, the adults who pour their lives into those children, and the community. Together we all either lose, or we gain.

Let me tell you about two adults who lost their jobs yesterday. First, someone I’ve been proud to call friend since we both graduated from William Penn in 1996. (They say, “once a Colonial, always a Colonial”, it’s so true!) This guy left a great career to come to Colonial. The district hasn’t been the same since he came on the scene! He’s responsible for spreading the good news of the district to everyone who will listen, and so so much more! This guy is wearing multiple hats! He’s up early, in classrooms, most times bouncing from school to school in our big district covering events and activities, supporting teachers. He’s in meetings to educate and inform about the impact this amazing district has on kids and the community. If there is an event after school, at night, he’s there. Not home with him family. He’s there, in the community, with the staff and students. He works long hours on making this district a better place. And he truly loves his job! Because of a failed referendum, this week, he lost.

Let me tell you about a teacher who I became close to this year. When I tell you this teacher is a rock star, it’s an understatement! When she texted me and said “I got the letter. I’m done as of June 30th” my heart sank. This teacher thinks outside of the universe (forget about “outside of the box”, she’s smashed that box!) She doesn’t even have desks in her classroom. Her classroom is like a home. Kids sit and work how they are most comfortable! She teaches with such a zealous for her art! You should see her students! It’s invigorating to step foot in her classroom! These kids smile because they LOVE being her student! They feel loved by their teacher and she inspired them to try harder, do better, and to give back. I could go on and on with concrete examples. Because of a failed referendum, yesterday she lost. Let me tell you about someone who has so much more to lose if we don’t make this right…

Her students.

I could tell you about them all. But if you’re still reading (thank you), I’ll just choose one. This kid has a piece of my heart. He’s a struggling reader from one of my reading groups. We bonded in an incredible way. And I miss him all the time. This kid is incredible. And funny. He wants to do better each day. Watching her teach this little guy blows me away. It reminds me why teaching is a part of your DNA. This kid would climb a mountain for his teacher. Now I imagine this student without her. In a class of 40 students. There will be less individualized attention for this student, something he craves and needs. This kid is a “big fish in a small pond” kind of kid. I cannot imagine what he’ll face as a “little fish in a giant ocean”.

We cannot, in good conscious, as a community, let these kids down! We live in the district. I went to Carrie Downie, McCullough, Gunning Bedford, and William Penn. My husband went to Pleasantville, McCullough, Gunning Bedford, and William Penn. If you live here, or went to Colonial schools, speak out, speak up. Share to get the word out if you’re uncomfortable or unsure on what to say.

A vote FOR the referendum on June 6th is a vote FOR KIDS!

8 comments on “On Colonial’s Referendum and Its Impacts

  1. pandora

    This really needs to pass. Either we change the way we fund schools or we require all funding to come up for a vote. If you think voting to improve roads, bridges, etc. is ridiculous then I’ve made my point!

  2. “Wave of pink slips floods Delaware schools”
    Good! The DOE needs to do a better job; consolidating purchasing, consolidating districts, consolidate the upper administrations! We need to stop the lies in our government, Delaware has continually, taken money from the transportation fund, given money and tax breaks for companies that laugh at our elected officials. Bloom, Fisker, etc. That money should have gone to the schools. Mark Murphy was a disgrace, when he was here! And now our Gov, is pushing it on the school district to raise taxes! What a joke!

    the Private sector schools do it with less money and is saving the State a ton of money. Maybe, the administrators, should spend some time, with privates school admins and learn a thing or to about being on a budget!!!!

    @ Pandora “we require all funding to come up for a vote”. Get out of your cave, they already do that with referendums; they ask for more, wait 6 months they ask for a little less.

    • Purchasing consolidation is already a thing. Districts use state contracted vendors.
      Transportation funds have nothing to do with a school Referendum.
      Private schools control who enrolls. Selective admissions. Public schools rightfully don’t do that.
      You really should spend some time with financial officers of the districts to learn a thing or two about controlling spending and budgeting.

      Thanks for playing. Again.

  3. Brian, Maybe YOU should read what I wrote. “Delaware has continually, taken money from the transportation fund, given money and tax breaks for companies that laugh at our elected officials. Bloom, Fisker, etc. That money should have gone to the schools.”

    Basically; let me spell it out for you, Delaware’s elected officials are NOT fiscally responsible, THAT was my point!! WOW, selective admissions? Yea, you have to past a test, they also give out academic scholarships, if you want to go!!!

    AND, you know I’m going to go to the next meeting, for Christina School District. Because, I’m sick and tired of the district crying poor mouth, when they have a highly paid administrator!!!

    • Anono, nothing about the transportation trust, or one time fixes the GA had used over the last decade has anything to do with the Referendum. Because Referendums deal only with local property taxes. And money coming from the State instead of Bloom or Fisker or anyone else would have zero impact on districts running Referendums. Because Referendums only concern local property tax revenue.

      Yes selective admissions. If you don’t do well enough on the exam they don’t have to accept you. There are no such screening methods in public school. Anyone and everyone gets in, no matter what.

      Please do come to the next Board meeting. Find me after you give comment and I’ll be happy to show you how the budget breaks down between central administration and the 2,400 other employees. We’re having a CBOC meeting this Wednesday. Our door is open, please stop in. 6:30 at Gauger in the professional library next to the pit.

  4. M Ryder

    Hey Bryan, transplant from Kilroys, here. Pandora will be SOOO excited to hear from me, not.

    There is distinct problem with our Public Education and the funding is but one symptom of the larger problem. There is no accountability for dollars in, to education out. That is not to say there aren’t good people working hard to educate children. More to the point is that our schools have been neutered in their ability to effectively produce students who are capable. The schools have prioritized, or been forced to (by legislation) prioritize, the so called neediest while minimizing the ability to teach to the larger majority of capable students. Social promotion has placed teachers in untenable situations where children are unprepared for grade level work. The schools have been forced to educate students who are ineligible (due to citizenship situations) to be in public schools.

    Then the state has refused to eliminate prevailing wages which double or triple, capital expenses.

    All these things cost. All these things are taxpayer funded. All these things are dependent on a region having a robust, tax generating work force. Our democratically controlled state has NOT effectively addressed the need to eliminate prevailing wage, it has not created a business friendly environment, it signed on to high cost federal programs such as Race to the top, it has refused to consolidate districts and it has pursued a never ending effort of transfer payments from taxpaying residents to low tax contributing members. THE STATE HAS RUN OUT OF OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY.

    With all that said, the districts come to the taxpayer and plead that they support ‘the children’ and the staff who educate them. Well, has the state and the educational system supported the majority of its parents and students? Have you reviewed the pass rate of the state testing? Have you seen what happened at Howard HS (Amy Joyner)? Do you know of the violence at Christina HS. Have you seen how much Free and reduced lunch food is thrown away.

    Why don’t parents want to increase their taxes or pass referendums? Have the schools honestly addressed their abysmal academic performance. Seriously, what have the districts done to effectively deal with 30% state testing pass rates? The schools beg for referendums and more revenue but there is very little to show for the all the previous referendums. Academics and behavior have not improved, Schools have been built at exorbitant prices, focus on academics and behavior has been minimized while taxpayers are guilted to support these requests for more revenue. If districts could point to improving academic / behavioral trends that might be something to hang their hat on, but due to the teacher’s union and schools signing on to the ever changing state testing methods, they can’t even provide trends.

    The takeaway. Carney must balance the budget, districts need to cut back on waste, districts need to be consolidated, schools need to be granted the power to pass / fail. Asking the already strapped contributing taxpayers for more money, while not providing reasonable returns on educational standards is patently ludicrous. Anon has one thing very right: the State and its agencies have mismanaged its finances. In business, the result is bankruptcy. In this state it’s a plea for more state welfare. More money with no return.

    We do need to address how we fund schools. Every district should be required to have an outside efficiency expert audit the school’s finances prior to any referendum request. Districts should only be allowed one referendum every two years and only one vote per referendum. No more of this; shoot for the moon, miss now shoot just for a low orbit, pass by slimmest margin. One vote every two years PERIOD. No more threats, no more grab bags of referendum toys. If a school has a 30% pass rate, they have no business spending money on non academic endeavors. Schools need to educate, not entertain.

    My sympathies to those losing their jobs and the schools that have to issue the pink slips. Maybe, just maybe they need to focus on voting for legislators and school board members who know how to manage finances and be fiscally responsible rather than excessively generous and flippant with taxpayer funds.

    • M Ryder

      My apologies, BRIAN, not Bryan.

    • M, first thank you for an actual substantive comment devoid of multiple successive punctuation marks, random all-caps words, and at least on the surface, devoid of personal vendettas against a school or district. I will respond to your comment after I’ve had a bit to dissect and analyze. I’ll say that, initially, I find myself with a mixture of agreement and disagreement on your points. Elaboration to come. Thanks again for initiating a discussion!

      Also, don’t worry about the Bryan/Brian thing, I’m quite used to it. At least you didn’t throw an ‘o’ in there instead of the ‘a’. That’s crossing a line!

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