Budget concerns in the spotlight at Christina School Board meeting
Christina School District’s budget issues were front and center at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.
Facing major budget cuts after its recent referendum was defeated, the board approved planning for a second referendum May 27th to pursue the tax increase needed to fill a $9 million budget deficit.
Some parents expressed worry about what would happen if things like arts and sports are scaled back or disappear.
"Those things are what keep him wanting to come to school, even though he’s an honor student," one parent told Delaware Public Media. "He knows that if his grades go down, he’s not honor roll, the extras are gone. But that’s me as a parent being proactive in his education. Not every student has that."
Another parent, Lisa Reed, told the board that cutting art and music, would put students into an educational “desert”.
Parents cautioned board members to “pick out their issues” ahead of a second referendum, and do a better job educating the community about district needs. Many argued that instead of cutting the usual suspects – art, music, para-educators – that the school district to trim fat at the top.
State Senator Bryan Townsend also admonished the board, saying the tone of its current sparring with the state Department of Education is leaving a bad taste in some mouths.
"People don’t want to see the negativity, they’re not inspired by that, and they’re not going to give you members of the board more money to work with, and I have emails from constituents specifically saying that," said Townsend.
The Board approved a one year agreement with the state Department of Education to keep Christina's three Priority Schools, Bancroft and Stubbs Elementary schools and Bayard Middle School in district for the 2015-2016 school year. That will be a transitional period to ensure stability ahead of an anticipated transfer of Christina’s Wilmington schools to the Red Clay School District. A DOE stipulation mandates an Assistant Principal, in charge of instruction and curriculum and paid for by the state, be appointed at each school and report to the Department of Education, but current administrators can remain next year.
The board also passed a resolution saying they would respect the position of parents who choose to “opt-out” of state student testing.