On Wednesday, November 29th, Gov. John Carney and Christina Superintendent Richard Gregg told parents that proposals in the leaked draft for Christina’s city schools weren’t carved in stone. I don’t disagree with that claim, but by answering the community’s questions by saying nothing has been decided severely limited the discussion.
A discussion that obviously could have taken place on Wednesday night since on Thursday, November 30th, the new draft was released.
At Wednesday’s meeting, several audience members brought up concerns about K-8 schools. The answer to their concerns was K-8 configurations are, “Not necessarily the case.” Here’s what’s said in the new draft:
The plan set forth in Section III.A. would ultimately consolidate CSD Wilmington students into two new K-8 schools (the “West Wilmington School” and the “East Wilmington School” and collectively the “New Schools”).
So, it is the case. There was a discussion to had on this, instead it was brushed aside with phrases like, that’s not necessarily the case, nothing is carved in stone, the News Journal got it wrong, etc.. I imagine many people in that audience are pretty upset right now.
Me, yesterday: “One parent brought up concerns over K-8 schools. He was told that K-8 hasn’t been decided on yet. That’s not an answer. It’s also, I suspect, not the truth.” This is exactly why people don’t trust this process. It wasn’t the truth. Oh, I’m sure you could skate on a technicality, but the impression given on Wednesday night was that we’re having these meetings to get community input before making decisions.
Not to mention, there is no guarantee that grades K-8 will be housed on different floors:
The existing building will be physically modified and improved to suit the instruction of students in grades K-8. If feasible, the modifications will facilitate the instruction of students in the following cohorts: Grades K-2 (first floor); Grades 3-5 (second floor); Grades 6-8 (third floor). This is known as a “school within a school” model. [emphasis mine][This paragraph is listed for both schools]
K-8 couldn’t be discussed Wednesday night because nothing has been decided yet, only to find K-8 specifically spelled out in the new draft 24 hours later. This why people become angry. K-8 was definitely on the table, pretending it wasn’t to avoid answering questions was wrong.
The financing is more specific, but I’ll need to break down those numbers (or maybe Brian will jump in!). The State will provide 1.5 million no later than 7/1/18, and an additional $1.5 million available at the start of every subsequent fiscal year that occurs during the Term of this MOU (including any extension of the Term to which the Parties may agree pursuant to Section __), subject to the same limitations.
Question: Is this money available, or does it need to be approved. It sounds like it’s available.
The State will still need to request capital improvement funds. Adding K-5 at one school and 6-8 at the other will require capital funding. No way around that. And since K-8 is (and obviously always was) the plan it can’t happen without capital funding.
I kept reading through the new MOU to see if there are any community meetings/outreach plans. I wrote this yesterday:
There were also a ton of promises to involve the community/parents in future meetings about this plan. Again, I’m not sure how that works given the scheduled December votes, and February 28th deadline. But that promise was made. Repeatedly. Future community meetings was the answer given every single time a parent/community member questioned a part of the leaked MOU. It was given every time they asked why they were only finding out about this plan now.
Anyone would be forgiven in thinking that last night’s meeting was the beginning of the discussion.
But when I read the new MOU here’s what I found about parent involvement:
Students enrolled in the New Schools, along with their families, may choose to participate in
a branding and redesign of the New Schools. Such redesign may include, but not be limited
to, choosing a new mascot and school colors.
Bet they’ll get to decide on uniforms, too!
Seriously, MOU writers? You guys would have been better off leaving out the Rebranding paragraph. It’s not going to go over well.
There’s another meeting scheduled:
Wilmington Schools’ Partnership Meeting
When: Mon, December 4 , 9:00am – 11:00am
Location: Drew Educational Support Center, 600 N. Lombard St., Wilmington, DE
Not sure how working parents, community members or teachers will be able to attend this meeting. I have a conflict on my calendar, but I’ll try to attend.