Delaware Education General Assembly

Baumbach Inexplicably Aligns Himself with Carney on Christina

State Rep. Paul Baumbach and State Senator Dave Sokola have introduced legislation that seems to be an overt threat of retaliation to the Christina School Board after a couple of members of that board expressed their desire to delay consideration and implementation of Governor Carney’s plan to close several of the district’s Wilmington’s elementary and secondary schools, in order to consolidate facilities and resources.  The legislation grants the unelected State Board of Education the power to remove a member of a local school district’s board by a vote of 60%.   For any reason whatsover, up to and including displeasing Governor Carney by delaying his consolidation plans for the Christina School District.   This move, and Baumbach’s role in it, has angered and surprised several education and political bloggers in Delaware.

Kevin Ohlandt at Exceptional Delaware: “I’ve seen some insane legislation in my day.  This one takes the cake.  […] Way to take the local out of local control and hand it over to the state there Paul!  Are you kidding me?  I wish this was some horrible joke, but it isn’t.  How would Baumbach feel if some board could take away HIS power?  This guy is begging to be primaried and removed from office.  You can’t even make this stuff up! […] The irony of a non-elected board getting the authority to remove an elected school board member should give you chills at night.  And of course the Governor would have to have final approval on it. Note this legislation does not include charter school boards.  They aren’t elected either.  They are appointed.  God forbid if they are accused of wrongdoing.  Let that non-elected board take care of their own.  […]

As for Baumbach, I can’t believe he actually put his name to this.  What in the name of Delaware politics is he thinking?  Stop listening to the folks at the swim club Paul.  They do not form the opinions of your entire district.  You once stood against this evaporation of local control and now you want to sign it away with the WORST bill I have ever seen come across my desk.  I hope this legislation dies a quick and painful death.”

Nancy Willing at Delaware Way: “Whoa. My Newark district’s Representative Paul Baumbach and Senator Dave Sokola intend to absolutely cross the line in promoting legislation allowing the Governor to remove my elected school board reps. No. No. NO. 

Are they simply carrying Carney’s water here?  Note the time Baumbach’s aide floated the bill for co-sponsorship is minutes after reporter Jessica Bies published her story on Christina’s rejection this morning of Carney’s most recent MOU draft.”

State Representative John Kowalko, in responding to an email from Baumbach’s aide who was forwarding the bill for review and sponsorship: “I find this legislation to be one of the most unconstitutional assaults on the rights of voters and the decisions that they have made. To suggest that an Executive branch (Governor appointed and unelected) board should have the authority to overturn the decision of the voting public disregards both separation of powers and constitutional rights of those elected. 

If either the two sponsors or the agitators for such a horrible piece of legislation have a problem with individual board members (as seems to be the case here) than they should come up with a lawful process attended to by lawful entities.   This is the type of overreach that causes the public to doubt the sincerity and legitimacy of the laws we create and pass. I hope the sponsors of this proposed legislation we quickly withdraw this legislation. “

If there is an issue that kills any politician that seeks to engage with it in Delaware, it is education.  The most passionate, dedicated, intelligent and active activists in Delaware are those who concern themselves with education.   Cross them and you will pay a price.  Baumbach is one of the better legislators in Delaware, and one of the most progressive.  He should reconsider his sponsorship and withdraw this legislation.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

25 comments on “Baumbach Inexplicably Aligns Himself with Carney on Christina

  1. cassandram

    So if I am on the Christina School Board, I’m getting the message the Carney is not serious about helping Wilmington kids and that the GA is certainly not going to pull its weight in this process. The work here, Rep. Baumbach, is getting the funding so that this consolidation can happen well. Rattling sabers at school board members gets not one thing done.

    • True. Even more true… the writers of this plan knew the money needed to implement it would never come. They just should have said, “We’re closing three schools” rather than put on this show.

      The main problem I have found is that 99% of our elected officials know squat about education. It doesn’t stop them from campaigning on it, tho.

      This legislation needs to be pulled. Now.

  2. cassandram

    I want every Delaware politician to see this:

    And I want them to get on the record as to how they plan to end the educational malpractice they legislate and fund every day.

  3. At some point you can’t just keep shoveling money at the problem. Christina needs a wakeup call. Maybe this is it. Tells you how bad it is when a tax and spender like Baumbach says enough is enough.

    • what does that “wake up call” look like, dude?
      People in the CSD pay ridiculously low property taxes as it is, so almost mo money is “being thrown” at the school as it is. Carney happily funding, as GOP governors are wont to do. The only choice is more resources.

      Teachers are already buying supplies with their own money (soon they wont be able to write that off) classrooms are already crowded and the buildings themselves are falling apart. Taking away more money wont hurt anyone responsible for this problem and will only have the result of pumping more under-educated people into our society.
      Can you offer any explanation of such a “wake up call” that wouldn’t instantly be passed on to the students?

      • None of the schools that they are discussing are remotely close to being crowded. They should have been closed a decade ago.

        Student/teacher ratio: Palmer 11:1 Pulaski 13: 1 Stubbs 15:1

        State and property taxes are low in DE but per student spending is just outside the top 10 states, on par with Pennsylvania and Maryland.

        • Xyz, you should check out the State/Local split of taxes that pay for school districts here, and school districts in PA, MD, and NJ.

          • I wondered about this. Our property tax rates are pretty low compared to MD/PA and NJ (obviously). But our spending per pupil is close to MD/PA according to the data I saw.

            My take was low property tax didn’t matter that much because state taxes made up for it, but maybe I missed something.

            Still seems like underfunding is a hard argument to make when our expenditure is that close to MD and PA.

            • Be careful with that spending per pupil number. There’s a lot more to it.

              • Enlighten me.

                • The per pupil funding is an average. It takes into account extremely high needs students – students with disabilities that require constant assistance and one-on-one teaching. The “average” student cost is lower than the average cited.

                  • OK, but don’t PA and MD have similar proportions of high needs students? I was referring to statewide spending averages.

                    Is Christina’s extremely high needs proportion higher than the rest of the state?

                    • Statewide spending averages are far more uniform in Delaware, where the state pays 60% of costs, than in Pennsylvania and Maryland, where local taxes pay the majority of costs. Such yardsticks are close to useless for anyone but bureaucrats.

                  • It’s worth noting that Christina has a disproportional number of special needs students because they administer 2 statewide special needs schools (Autism and Deaf schools). The current per-pupil costs are measured in a way that makes it look like Christina is off-the-charts, but if those programs are excluded from the calculations it is in line with the rest of the districts.

            • It’s not just state taxes making up the difference. Delaware taxpayers fund less than 60% of the expenses of state government. The rest comes from banks and other corporate fees and “abandoned” (stolen by government) property.

              That’s the thing about Delaware: Our taxes are low, which makes it easier for politicians to spend unwisely — mostly on crony jobs — because the taxpayers aren’t feeling the full effect of that waste.

              • Yea, that state is mostly run by Democrats anyway. Maybe, we need to elect more Republicans, Alby!

                • Property school taxes aren’t particularly low in Christina. I had a $300 dollar increase on my September 30, 2017 bill. The Governor pulled a Lucy on Monday in amending the MOU by apparently stripping the states’ funding contribution, as noted above. I’s untenable to approve an MOU that forces the district to pay for the Governor’s wish list including refurbishing the ‘extra’ three buildings for non-K-12 use – at least one as a “generational facility”….ie a DHSS-like social service shop? that DHSS and Carney get me to pay for? Christina has many pockets of poverty from the dense, low income communities along the Route 40 corridor to Wilmington’s Eastside row homes. We can’t afford to be held liable for funding Carney’s smorgasbord, however well intended. It’s ironic, as WEIC would have removed Christina from the picture entirely, this is a polar opposite.

                  • Brian Stephan

                    delawareway, what was your total school tax bill? Christina’s tax rate changed from $2.380 per $100 assessed value last year to $2.385 per $100 assessed value. $300 increase in one year seems a bit much, not totally unrealistic, but a bit much.

                    • Right now, it’s a 75% school to 25% county split. There is a school tax and Vo-tech tax which are separate. Both rates went up last year. My taxes went up $400, between 2015 and 2016. Not as much in 2017.

                • Why? It’s not as if they are less clueless than the Democrats. Remember, the top Republican hopefuls in Delaware were being chased out of politics for diddling the kiddies long before the current fad for it hit.

                  • Hey, go back to writing on DL, where you have control! Or just go to France already.

      • Didn’t CSD get their referendum passed after 2 tries and got 16 million?

    • For that matter, what does shoveling money at the problem look like? When it comes to funding our schools, they aren’t using a shovel. More like a tablespoon.

  4. Devon Hynson

    This is the eminent domain of education to some extent. It actually allows the executive branch to overhaul legislative authority. No separation of powers. It’s like a Mayor having the unilateral decision making power to remove council members.

    I understand the desire to fundamentally change how CSD operates but this is an uninformed power grab. It may be slightly illegal, if I understand it right.

    • Devon, it’s seemingly conferring judicial authority to the State Board as well by putting on “trial” a board member accused of dereliction of duty essentially. It calls for witnesses, evidence, and the Board member in question the to be given the ability to defend him/herself (with or without legal counsel) against evidence and accusations.

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