Brian Stephan, parent co-chair of the Christina Referendum Steering Committee recently published a post about why some people have voted NO in the past to the Christina referendums. His post discusses a lot of misinformation and misconceptions people have, mostly due to confusing messaging on the Department of Education pages which list a lot of numbers without explaining any context.
Therefore he thought it would be helpful to break things out and try to shed some light on public school systems and school financing. These are two topics that have a lot of finely detailed intricacies which make them difficult to understand even for someone who has been volunteering for the district for years.
Two themes he tackles include “the district is too top heavy” and “the district is spending too much per pupil and still asking for money.”
His calculations and details are very informative and you can find them in full detail at this link: “What Brought the No Votes to Christina?”
In summary I would like to share:
- Christina does not have a bloated administration last year there were 78 administrators. This year, 72. 50 are school leaders, 22 are district administrators.
- Special programs which reside in the Christina School District but are truly statewide programs are the Delaware Autism Program and the School for the Deaf. These Special Programs have 15 administrators.
- There are 1,837 district employees. 95% of Christina employees make less than $100k/yr. (My personal opinion is that this tidbit of information is no one’s business. These employees work very long hours day in and day out to help educate the children in our community. I know I wouldn’t be able to be a principal of any school for more than two hours without feeling completely drained. Employees in the education system, in my opinion, are vastly underpaid compared to all other professions and yet they hold out future in their hands 5 days a week. – Christy)
- For every 1 administrator whether it be district or school, there are 201 students. The number is even more absurd when you only calculate for principals and assistant principals (50): 14,502/50 = 290 students per School Administrator.
- Delaware Department of Education says we spend $13,586/per pupil. THIS IS AN AVERAGE. I am not a statistician but I know how easy it is to skew an average when you have large outliers. Every student has different levels of educational needs, levels which need different resources.
- Many individuals have said they do not want to put money int a district who has poor rankings that are not improving. I feel those people should talk with every principal in this district to hear just how things have improved over the years because they have. Dropout rates are decreasing, graduate rates are increasing and the number of kids going to college are increasing. Test score rankings are not the be all and end all of any school district. Especially when tests are changing every other year and how can you possible gauge any rank based of inconsistent data.
- Furthermore, a successful school district needs the support of their local community. What I see are many community residents who have chosen not to support their public schools. Even as these schools directly impact them. These students are worth the time, energy and money, every single bit of it and that is why I will be voting YES in support of the referendum on March 23.
In conclusion, things are definitely not always how they seem and sometimes taking a moment to break it down can be very helpful. So I thank Brian and the Citizen Budget Oversight Committee for taking time to figure all of this out and discuss it every month. I would also like to say we’ve been told several times that we are not communicating well enough or that we’re only communicating to “yes” voters. I’d like to know where this magical list of “yes” voters is so that I can communicate to them and get them engaged. That would indeed be quite helpful.
This referendum has been publicly discussed for many months. When the school board approved the referendum it was published by the media. Here’s an article from January 13 by Delaware First Media. The district is requesting operating funds, money is limited. Calling 90,000 district residents takes time, money and man power that we do not have. Last year we posted billboards and were told that was a waste of money. We communicate in the newspaper, on radio, on the internet and through social media. We have had several public forums to discuss the referendum and school climate issues. Both of my kids have come home with referendum information in their backpacks and we have gotten calls from their principals. I just did a quick google search and have counted over a dozen articles since January that have been published in at least 5 different places. So for those people who feel like we are not being transparent (you can access a line budget list for the district here it is 53 pages long, have fun, here is a page with a whole archive of FULL budget documents) and that we are not communicating I ask you… What would work better? I’m really not sure, if the communication is part of the problem please provide constructive feedback and suggestions.
We value input, we value questions and we have been responding to everyone as quickly as possible. I should let you know, however, that I will not respond to someone who isn’t asking questions but is using explicit language to yell at me and call me a thief and a liar. Responding to bullies and close-minded individuals is not an effective use of my time. It is okay to be angry and frustrated, but it is not okay to be cruel.