This post will be a hot mess. Just like the state budget.
Notable reductions in funding:
• Early Childhood Initiatives: -$2 million
• DOE Employee Reduction Plan: -$1.5 million
• Drivers Education (non-public school students will pay a fee for service to offset): -$1.2 million
• College Access:
o Dual enrollment subgrants: -$109
o PSAT: -$140k
o Competitive subgrants: -$413k
o Delaware College Scholars, College application month, scholarship compendium, Stand by Me with DHSS Scholarships and Grants: 20% reduction: -$738k
• Transportation: Reduce State support of costs from 90% to 80%. -$3.7 million.
This one is a sore spot for me, well, one of many sore spots for me. Since the state is shady on how exactly they fund school transportation. Take Christina School District. Their bus yard is in Newark, off Wyoming Rd. When a bus leaves the yard enroute to its first student pick up in the morning, the state is paying $0, the District is paying the full cost of getting that bus from the yard to the first student.
When the bus makes its first pick up, the State begins contributing 90% of the cost of the route until the bus drops off at the school. After the kids disembark at school and the bus starts back toward the bus yard the State returns to paying $0.
In the afternoon when the bus again leaves the yard on Wyoming Rd headed to the school to pick up at dismissal, the State is still paying $0.
When the bus is loaded and begins its route to the first afternoon drop off the state pays 90% of the route’s costs until the last student is dropped off.
When the bus heads back to the yard for the day the State returns, again, to paying $0.
In reality, State transportation resources are only spent when students are physically on the bus during the day to and from school. When it’s just the driver going to and from the yard, school, and route? It’s all District support.
That 90% State transportation support for Districts isn’t actually 90%, it’s lower. Maybe 85% or 80%. So when you see JFC knocking the 90% down to 80%, know that it’s really more like 80% to 70% or worse.
I know JFC still has 3 days left, but since they’ve already line itemed the transportation funding, I didn’t see anything about Charter school transportation funds, because they get them too. Every year. And unlike traditional districts who must return any unused state transportation money back to the state at the end of the year, Charters get to keep whatever they don’t use on busing, and spend it on whatever the heck they want. Unrestricted. How come that didn’t make it in with the transportation funding cuts?
• State Board of Education: -$213k
• Summer School – Gifted & Talented: -$126k
• Teacher stipends for working in high-risk schools: -$540k
• Adolescent Day Program: -$36k
All in all, education took about a $16 million hit today, out of a proposed $37 million total reduction. JFC has the rest of the work week to get through the rest of it.
Initially unpacking what I’m reading here; I’m okay with the State Board being eliminated. I’m not quite sure what value they have been providing Delaware public education over the last several years. I know what the INTENT of a State Board of Education is, but former Governor Markell wasn’t aware, or he forgot. Good riddance.
Early childhood initiatives. This one. I mean, look, JFC must close a $400 million gap. I get that. And $2 million is not an insignificant amount of money. At the same time though, I feel like they really should be looking forward to things like, you know, next year? Slashing early childhood programs for a short term budget fix is all but certain to increase your educational costs in the long term. Probably one of the more boneheaded cuts JFC made today. It’s sort of like pilfering one-time settlement funds to close a budget gap without planning how to address the fact that your settlement money will be gone next year when that same budget gap is back because spending wasn’t adjusted, nor was revenue increased. I digress.
Some of the things on this list, I’m not even sure what they are. And from what I’ve read, JFC didn’t know either. Some of my educator/administrator friends will surely know, though so please chime in down in the comments.
Teacher Compensation reform: -$800k
Teacher Center Funding: -$340k
Infrastructure capacity: -$450k
A few professional development lines: Student Standards & Assessment, Professional Standards Board, Professional Accountability and Instructional Advancement Fund?
No idea on the details of those programs other than their elimination saves the State approximately $1.9 million.
I want to get in to the DHSS services being cut but I can only stand so much frustration in one night and still expect to get some sleep.
JFC has 3 more days of this and these cuts are already heartbreaking. Waiting for our legislators to finally realize we can’t cut our way to prosperity.
See the entire cut list from the 5/30/17 Joint Finance Committee meeting here. Education is the last page.