Merging Sussex Schools into One District

Sussex County Online User Forums: Sussex County Delaware Discussion Forum: Merging Sussex Schools into One District
By Eric Magill on Friday, June 14, 2002 - 05:19 pm:

The Delaware House of Representatives has passed a resolution asking the Department of Education to study the feasability of merging Sussex County's school districts into one district.

This plan is touted as a way of saving money by eliminating redundancy in school administrative costs and putting that money into children's educational programs.

But given that the resolution's sponsors are all on the western side of Sussex County, it seems to me to be an attempt by western Sussex school systems, which complain that they don't get their fair share of the state's education budget, to get at the money generated by all of the homes approved on the eastern side of the county by western Sussex County Councilmen.

Frankly, I've seen no evidence that consolidation of school systems improves education. In fact, I've seen just the opposite here and elsewhere, and so have many others who are trying to get their kids into private schools no matter how far they have to drive to do it.

Lord Baltimore Elementary School used to be a darned good school system with K-12 grades. Since consolidaton 30 years ago, it remains an outstanding elementary school becuase of the involvement of parents and community volunteers, but when the kids are bussed off to Selbyville for middle school and Indian River for high school, they lose that involvement and everyone suffers.

If the Department of Education can devise a one-district plan that elevates the performance of some western Sussex schools whose performances need elevating, while not hurting eastern Sussex schools, then fine. But at this point, I'll stick with the Indian River School District for my daughter.

What's your opinion?

By M.Opaliski on Friday, June 14, 2002 - 11:09 pm:

I can't see how this request for a feasibility study conducted by the Secretary of Education can do any harm, aside from making public some of the inner workings of the many districts which may do harm in the way of public opinion to the individual districts and the DOE itself. Of course that is assuming that the report is given without bias, showing where there are faults if they exist and it is open to the public.

In an effort to mildly defend those who have joined Rep. Ewing in sponsoring this Resolution, Rep. West and Rep. Carey can hardly be called "Western Sussex" when it comes to School District representation. With Carey in District 36 which in and of itself could not be farther east in Sussex County, that RD includes both the Cape Henlopen and Indian River School Districts, which themselves could not be farther east. The same can said of West in District 41, that RD represents the Indian River District as well.

Admittedly, I do not have years of experience with even one district let alone a few of them as I have had only one child in the Woodbridge District for two years with another one set to start this coming year. However, I do agree with your last paragraph in that I cannot see "robbing Peter to pay Paul", for lack of a better term. If there is a way to level the field where it needs leveling, it cannot come at the cost of sacrificing the potential of any district.

I was talking about this Resolution this evening with a teacher in the Milford School District while I was at the Delmarva Balloon Festival. She seemed to be receptive to the idea, but was reluctant to really comment on specifics without knowing the details of the report, witch is understandable.

I look forward to the report.

By M.Opaliski on Saturday, June 15, 2002 - 04:41 pm:

Eric -

Again, you have a poll up that really looks like it is searching for a specific responce. If I had no real knowledge of this Resolution, which is what the majority of respondants will have ... as is the case in many polls, I would be inclined to vote "no" on your poll because of the way it is worded.

Do you favor the state House's plan to merge Sussex County's school districts into one district?

At the moment, the House has simply asked for a study to that effect.

By Eric Magill on Sunday, June 16, 2002 - 12:40 pm:

This is not as innocent as you think. Obtaining the DOE's blessing is the first part of a plan by western Sussex representatives to merge the county's school districts into one district that would enable them to redistribute money from the wealthier eastern side of the county to schools on the western side.

This plan would enable these legislators to generate more money for their schools without undertaking an unpopular reassessment or referendum. This is simply their scheme to get more money for their schools without alienating their constituents.

These representatives wouldn't put the DOE through all of this trouble in such a short time frame unless they intended to follow through. And don't think for a minute that there won't be intense pressure on the DOE to make this look like a feasible idea.

And isn't it interesting that this plan doesn't include consolidating New Castle County school districts into one district? If you're going to study a concept that might help children's education, why not include New Castle County, where parents spends thousands of dollars a year sending their kids to private school because of the poor condition of the public schools there?

We need look no further than Maryland for an indication of how this concept works. Maryland's county-wide school districts face the same financial woes that school districts like Woodbridge face (i.e., cutting extracurricular activities). We also saw recently that Maryland students under-performed on their standardized tests.

As for the poll, if you favor the idea of merging the Sussex school districts into one district, vote yes. If not, vote no. The story is right there with the poll if you need information on what they are intending.

By M.Opaliski on Monday, June 17, 2002 - 05:36 pm:

I have to concede to your thinking, you made some very good points. Thus the reason that I value such discussion about local issues.

A reassessment of the county isn't really popular anywhere, aside from in the offices of western Sussex schools. And generally among the public, referendums aren't all that popular either, anywhere.

I also agree that it is interesting to say the least that this plan did not include New Castle County schools, I was thinking that myself.

As for the poll, I can't answer until I've seen the plan.

By c grace on Thursday, June 20, 2002 - 04:51 pm:

If we think our school administrations and school boards are occasionally unresponsive to our needs now, I can only imagine how bad the situation would be with a county wide district. I can understand the desire to limit administrative overhead as much as possible, but as was posted earlier "bigger is not always better." As a graduate of the Woodbridge School District, I had the pleasure of learning in a small district. I encourage our legistators to explore less complicated and more fair ways to fund our schools, but not at the expense of limiting our local control.

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