Education General Assembly

Joint Finance Committee Machetes $16 million in Education Funding

May 30th sees $16 million in education funds eliminated. 3 days left to go... #eduDE

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?

Notable eliminations:

• 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.

6 comments on “Joint Finance Committee Machetes $16 million in Education Funding

  1. And so the famed “austerity budget” comes to Delaware. Might I ask, are the millionaires and billionaires flocking into the state yet? Will god strike us down if we raise the taxes of the rich? John Carney and far too many others seem to think so. Having said that can a call for the return of the whipping post be far away?

  2. Ugh. So we even have unequal austerity with Charters. WTF is wrong with these people?

    Does anyone know why they don’t try to raise revenues first then do their markup?

    • Charters will be the death of the public school system, that was one of the goals from the start. The other goal is the end of the teachers union, the sworn enemy of all Republicans who care to admit it. Above all it’s a return to segregation, token kids in assorted schools or not.

  3. • Drivers Education (non-public school students will pay a fee for service to offset): -$1.2 million

    Catholic schools save the State of Delaware $150 million a year!!!

    I’ve made the choice to send my children to private schools and this is what we get??

  4. M. D. Brown

    What is the Delaware Teacher Center? It’s unbeleivable that the JFC doesn’t know about it or claims to not! They each received multiple detailed packages outlining the purpose and mission of the DTC…all of the last several months….Hand-delivered to Leg. Hall. Included were hundreds and hundreds letters of support.

    The DTC took a big hit a few years back.

  5. Democratic incumbent members of the legislature have come to realize that voters accept austerity and it’s easier than raising taxes now. If the Democratic base expects more, these soft and lazy Democrats need to be primaried and replaced by Democrats who are willing to do the difficult and tedious work of energizing the base by educating them. (bravo AOC, who models this approach brilliantly)

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