Home > Uncategorized > Red Clay referendum meeting at Skyline on Thursday

Red Clay referendum meeting at Skyline on Thursday

February 7, 2012

Update #2: I learned about this meeting via an automated phone call, and I don’t see it listed on the Red Clay website, which only lists the Shortlidge and Highlands meetings. Are city and suburban residents being selectively notified? I’d hate to think that is going on. Probably not, or if so it is unintentional. Never attribute to malice, etc.

Update: I’m going to leave this as an open thread for folks to report and compare their experiences of the city and the suburban meetings. Please share!

Red Clay will hold a public meeting at Skyline Middle School on Thursday, February 9 @7pm. Click here for more info.

  1. February 7, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Your second link takes me to Warner’s home page, not sure if you meant to do that.

    When I click on Skyline I see the meeting posted, but I didn’t see it posted on Red Clay’s home page. Am I missing it?

    Do you know if there is there a reason this meeting was added?

  2. February 7, 2012 at 9:21 am

    See my update. I think it probably depends more on the availability of speakers than anything else. But robocalls should go out (I got one, did anybody else?) and websites should be updated – both the Red Clay site, and voteredclay.org.

    The second link works for me and downloads the pdf flyer for the Skyline meeting. Is anybody else having a problem with that link? If not, you can access that link on the Skyline web page. Here it is:


  3. February 7, 2012 at 9:43 am

    The link in your comment sends me here: http://www.edline.net/pages/RCWarner

    Unintentional? Perhaps, but I think you may be being generous. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Still curious as to why this meeting has been scheduled.

  4. February 7, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Link updated in post and here:

    The old one still works for me though. It may be some kind of Edline redirection glitch.

  5. February 7, 2012 at 11:19 am

    When I click on your latest link I can see a picture of a little man speaking into a microphone but all the writing is black blocks. BTW, I am NOT a conspiracy theorist! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’ll head over to Skyline’s page.

  6. February 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Did you receive this call because you were a Skyline parent?

  7. February 7, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    No… IIRC the call came from Linden Hill where my youngest attends (actually I missed the first few seconds, but I think so).

    I think all that’s going on is the local schools are promoting the nearest meeting to their own parents, some more diligently than others. LH has always been very pro-active about that. But the District should also be using the phone alerts and updating both its web sites to alert the whole district to each meeting.

    You know, in a some ways we parents failed to carry out our parent involvement in this. The time to fire up the blogs and the investigations and the public meetings has come and gone. Once the state certifies the referendum, the District is understandably going to do a full court press to get it passed. I do recall pre-certification meetings and messages about school capacity hearings that I didn’t pay enough attention to at the time. In fact I attended a presentation last year at a Linden Hill PTA meeting where District officials were trying to explain why trailers were being added, and we heard about the Graves Road plans then.

    I’d like to hear more information year round from more city parents. I don’t know enough about what really goes on in city schools. I am attracted to the idea of using the referendum to force a conversation about improving city schools, but it is weak to take that position unless you (we) actually have a plan.

  8. February 7, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Here’s a plan… put programs into city schools that suburban parents would find desirable. And that’s an old song that city residents have been singing to RCCD for a decade.

    And here’s my problem with the Skyline meeting… all other referendum meetings have been posted on the district home page and referendum page. Why isn’t this one posted? There are city residents who work in that area, maybe that meeting would be more convenient for them? This targeting of some info, but not all doesn’t seem fair.

  9. February 7, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    BTW, I really don’t expect you to have all the answers! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. February 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I did NOT receive a phone call (Highlands parent). A fellow Highlands mom was one of two parents at Shortlidge last night. I will be talking to her shortly, I’ll update you with her account of the evening. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. February 7, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Mike O. will you be at the Highlands meeting next week by any chance? We all really need to get together!

  12. February 7, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Coolspringer – Not sure about Highlands, but I’ll let you know. In the next few days I’ll have a regular contact email (and the whole blog) set up on this domain name minus the “wordpress.com,” so people will be able to get in touch more easily.

    Pandora, I like the idea of putting attractive programs in the city schools, but I wouldn’t expect great results from trying to force the District to come up with a plan. I think the parents themselves should come up with a credible plan in significant detail, maybe even crowdsourced on a blog (but with real vetting of the ideas, not just the usual venting).

    First of all I’d like to understand what we’ve got already: What exactly is wrong with city schools? What do city parents say? I know for many suburban parents, the issue is simply distance, which is a fair criticism. And of course the fearsome reputation of the city.

    I’d like to see a population density map overlaid on a map of Wilmington and the feeder patterns. I’m not sure what that would look like, but if it makes sense I’d consider building a traditional middle school and a high school on the East Side as anchors to the community. [oops, I think I’m out of Red Clay now]

    But the schools can’t do that alone; it would have to be master-planned, with state and federal funding for urban renewal (community-approved) in the immediate vicinity, AND the introduction of one or more major employers, plus a supermarket or two, and some kind of small business enterprise zone.

    I think if a school like Conrad (6-12) had been located in the city, it might attract a fair number of suburban kids. But I don’t think suburban parents will send their PreK-5 students into the city, no matter what the incentive. And that’s mostly where Red Clay has extra space.

    If city elementary enrollment declines further, perhaps schools can be combined and one school repurposed as a middle school.

  13. February 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I’d also like to make sure that if we do end up building a new school at Graves Road, it should be situated and designed to add a new wing easily in the future.

    Also, if we are going to spend $120 million on renovations and new constructions, we should make sure that buildings are constructed (or renovated) so libraries and other facilities (gym, meeting rooms) can potentially be operated independently after-hours and weekends: separate exterior entrances, separate HVAC zones, one set of bathrooms, with access to the rest of the school securely shut off.

  14. February 8, 2012 at 8:51 am

    I’m going to try and address your points.

    Pandora, I like the idea of putting attractive programs in the city schools, but I wouldnโ€™t expect great results from trying to force the District to come up with a plan. I think the parents themselves should come up with a credible plan in significant detail, maybe even crowdsourced on a blog (but with real vetting of the ideas, not just the usual venting).

    I, along with most city parents, don’t have a PhD in education so the idea that city parents should design a detailed plan to present to District – you know, the people who are actually responsible and paid for the management of all their schools – is a little tricky. Over the years we have approached District and the board with program ideas: Offer TAG, IB or a specialty magnet only at the city schools. We believe that these sort of programs would appeal to all Red Clay residents and create a socio-economic diversity. The Brandywine School District has had success with this approach. So… we have tried this tactic many times.

    First of all Iโ€™d like to understand what weโ€™ve got already: What exactly is wrong with city schools? What do city parents say? I know for many suburban parents, the issue is simply distance, which is a fair criticism. And of course the fearsome reputation of the city.

    City schools have become high poverty schools with all the challenges that comes along with that title. To get an idea of what’s happening check out this article. Here are some of the things that happened when Brandywine Springs opened in 2000. My oldest child was in first grade at Warner that year. We stayed at Warner until he completed 3rd grade, so I, and my child, lived through this experience.

    1. Suburban parents left in droves for Brandywine Springs
    2. Experienced teachers left city schools
    3. Programs and extra curricular activities such as TAG, Technology and math clubs were pulled, replaced by necessary programs to help the new population.
    4. Funding high poverty schools didn’t change. All RCCD schools were funded under the same formula, even though all RCCD schools were not equal. This required high poverty RCCD schools to use teaching units and funds to implement programs to help their new, high needs population (necessary and worthwhile), but it also required cutting programs that offered advanced learning and enrichment.
    5. With the loss of these programs/courses more parents fled these schools – myself included. These schools were no longer capable of serving a diverse populations needs.

    It’s a vicious cycle, and one, imo, that Red Clay stood back and watched happen. Remember, all of this happened well before the Neighborhood School’s Law came into being. RCCD did this through Choice, and by opening Brandywine Springs without capital referendum approval.

    As far as suburban concern, distance to the city was a concern, but not enough of a concern to vote for a new school. Before Brandywine Springs opened and elementary schools went K-5, suburban residents were bussed into the city for grades 3 – 5. Warner and Highlands were two of the District’s shining stars. Ever since K-5 was implemented Red Clay has lost many stars. Or, perhaps I should say, it has picked certain stars to shine.

    And when it comes to picking stars it’s not only elementary schools that have taken the hit. Dickison High School is a prime example of what happens when the District picks favorites. And if Dickinson is your feeder then everyone tries to choice into A.I. – with its trailers – or get into CSW or bite the bullet and pay tuition at private school. Not sure what your feeder is, but if it’s Dickinson get ready to scramble.

    Wow, I think I’ve written a blog post! As far as a city middle and high school… There are only two groups that like this idea: City officials that see a chance to run it and suburbanites. City residents are extremely wary. Here’s why…

    1. Every now and then there will be calls for a city district. Wilmington does not have the tax base to support a district, but whenever this is pointed out many in the suburban community offer to help fund the city district. City residents usually chuckle at this, knowing that a few years down the road every suburban politician will be running on the platform of “bringing our suburban tax dollars back to our community.”

    2. As far as RCCD opening a city middle or high school… Why would anyone believe that these schools, made up of the same high needs population, would fare better than RCCD’s city elementary schools? City residents believe that a city middle and high school would simply be more of the same. Altho… I get why suburban residents like this idea. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I hope this answers some of your questions, and you should really try and make the Highland’s meeting.

  15. February 8, 2012 at 9:35 am

    My younger sister was bused to Warner and did fine, . I went to Heritage Elementary, Skyline, and then St. Marks (for reasons that had nothing to do with busing).

    The IB program is for high schoolers; not sure where that program would be housed in Wilmington. There is an IB program starting up at Dickinson for grades 11-12; I’ve talked with principal Byron Murphy about it and he is really enthusiastic about it. My feeder is McKean but I will definitely look at Dickinson IB for my (now) 7th grader.

    TAG programs would be great, but where would you put them, and for what grades? I am also a little skeptical of the entry criteria for TAG. I didn’t see any rhyme or reason to it. It seems to be a tap-on-the-shoulder kind of thing (we weren’t tapped). That would have to be tightened up and made less subjective if possible. Just imagine how a suddenly re-energized TAG program could go wrong if selection was perceived to be unfair.

    If city parents call a meeting to put forth a proposal for TAG or IB in city schools, I’ll be there.

    “Althoโ€ฆ I get why suburban residents like this idea.”

    I get your drift but I didn’t mean to put it that way. I think schools anchor a neighborhood, and vice versa. That’s why a plan for change cannot work unless it is master-planned at all levels: District, City, State, Federal, providing social supports and infrastructure improvements in the surrounding neigborhoods.

    The social and economic heyday of Wilmington prominently featured working-class people with kids in neighborhood schools. So if Wilmington wants to recapture some of that they will need work and schools.

  16. February 8, 2012 at 10:05 am

    If your sister attended Warner before the opening of Brandywine Springs then she attended a different school from what exists today.

    And the IB program is NOT just a high school program. The link takes you to Harlan Elementary’s program – located in the city, btw. It’s also offered at Talley Middle School, but there’s been some talk of moving it to P.S. duPont – the only middle school in the Brandywine District where the TAG program is offered. So… not sure where you’re getting your info.

    And Red Clay’s TAG program is poorly implemented and seems to be run as a popularity contest in regards to who gets invited in. Offering TAG at a lot of schools dilutes what could be an awesome program.

    By the way, go look at the feeder zones for city schools. Warner’s is split between the area around the school and the jumps over to the area around and near 4th Street.

  17. Coolspringer
    February 8, 2012 at 10:08 am

    A few disjointed thoughts –

    I agree about work and schools…and I do think schools should be a touchstone from which communities are built. Communities are only partly geographical in nature these days. Hardly anyone in the city is an urbanist in practice.

    BTW, there are non-Red Clay middle & high schools in the city – Bayard & Howard VT. I have worked on programming at both schools through my day job. They’re well-loved and have some incredibly bright students, as you will find at every single school around. Of course, reputation and data put them at the bottom of the barrel along with all of the other high-poverty schools, which breaks my heart.

    And I have to say I have thought of the idea of a city district appealing – but I’ve come to understand why it’s untenable, financially. It’s not the answer; though I do think our current districts are losing their usefulness. Especially when anyone can choice across feeder & district lines, why not do away with them altogether and just have 1-2 massive districts and work on drafting more sensible feeders? I really don’t think they’d be managed worse. Imagine the administrative savings at the top!

    I don’t see that parents would really refuse to send their kids to the city for preK-5. They will go where the programs are. Parents drive from east jabib and back to get their kids to Tower Hill, Friends, Tatnall, Ursuline…parents are driving multiple kids to multiple schools all over the county all the time. It seems we’re misinterpreting what the Neighborhood Schools Act could’ve been – not a refusal to travel for schooling, but making sure all who can’t or won’t have a great school option at an arm’s reach. And because we’ve failed that so miserably, I think the legislation ought to be revisited.

    And quite frankly, I wouldn’t hate to see a beautiful school like Warner become a traditional high school – but not a status quo high-poverty one, no way. Why couldn’t they have IB there? And what about a middle school with an IB program? Our one RC “city” junior high, AI Middle (where my gawky, pale, geeky nephew is a 7th grader and bizarrely – not traditionally a school lover – speaks highly of it, and his teachers) could use a diversifying force.

    TAG programs are often, as a neighbor of mine who has a daughter in TAG at Mt. Pleasant says “a bill of goods” parents are sold. So are charters most of the time. They don’t seem very different from traditional schools besides helping to generate a more demographically manageable population. But they work to draw people so honestly I am in favor of such programs for that defeatist reason alone. I am going to do what I can to get such a program into my neighborhood elementary school, Lewis (where I went in the 80s and which we are basically told not to even consider using if you’re not ELL!). In my view – there is little rhyme or reason to most anything in the district right now besides mass hysteria and appealing to it.

  18. February 8, 2012 at 10:37 am

    You are right about IB, I was looking at the wrong page at ibo.org. The diploma program is for age 16-19 but there are programs for all ages. From ibo.org:

    Three programmes (ages 3 to 19)
    Primary Years Programme (ages 3 to 12)
    Middle Years Programme (ages 11 to 16)
    Diploma Programme (ages 16 to 19)
    IBCC (ages 16 to 19)

    Your observation about programs in other districts is a good one. When we are trying to solve district school population problems, why aren’t we doing this in conjunction with all the city districts? What are their statistics for out-of-district choice?

  19. February 8, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Here’s something to consider… Red Clay has approx. 11 schools under academic watch. Brandywine has one, Mount Pleasant – you know, the school they put the IB program into.

    Looks like Red Clay’s problems extend beyond city schools?

  20. February 8, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I had assumed city parents don’t want long bus rides for their children any more than suburban parents do. Is that not the case?

    If city parents want me to support new programs or new schools in the city, I’ll do that. Or if they want to bus their kids into suburban schools, that’s fine too.

    I’m just not sure either suburban parents or District officials are in a position to decide what city parents want or need. I know I’m not.

  21. Coolspringer
    February 8, 2012 at 11:44 am

    I don’t think we do want long bus rides…at least I know I don’t! But there are worse things. Anyway, in practice…many city parents seem to feel forced into a kind of self-busing that they would have preferred not to engage in.

    From my perspective, city parents would LOVE viable schools in their neighborhoods. Concentrated poverty and no effort to alleviate that prevents our schools from being truly viable and usable by the non-poor, as it places an undue burden on the financial (and emotional) resources of staff and non-poor parents.

    The district pays the same to educate children no matter where they attend, great – but if you compare a school with 98% of the kids getting free & reduced lunch to a school where 2% of the kids get it…the resulting difference in opportunities should be obvious. There is more to the resources of a school than what the district pays per student, each child comes to the table with the resources of their parents economic and educational status, work schedule permitting engagement, etc. Don’t you remember there were certain parents who were always around at school? It wasn’t every single parent, but all of the children benefit from what is represented by the strength of whatever parents have the capacity to do so. So think of those capacities in comparison and if that really strikes you as a just discrepancy to encourage…

    If we’re throwing out big ideas – I happen to think our district should have standards towards balancing the distribution of our poor populations. And if a school truly wants to remain poverty-free, more power to them no one is going to force anyone to do anything, god frobid – but perhaps those schools should receive fewer resources from the district, taking the aggregated resources behind their student body into account. That may be radical, I don’t know, doesn’t seem so to me. Policy often supports the ideals we want to achieve, a carrot to the donkey of he populace. People can choose to flout those ideals, but maybe they should have to pay for that self-interestedness. I’m sure educational cap & trade would prove super popular…haha ;P

  22. Coolspringer
    February 8, 2012 at 11:49 am

    (For the record, I know that Title I does represent additional resources allocated to high-poverty schools. I’m just not sure I’m impressed with the results.)

  23. February 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Mike, I appreciate all your support of city schools.

    Here’s the real problem. Red Clay has divided its parents/citizens and schools into two (or more) districts. We have been split, which weakens all of us. Their FAQs answer, imo, is a threat to parents:

    What happens if the new school ballot question does not pass?
    We would need to consider a number of options.
    โ€ข Readjusting feeder patterns in most of our elementary schools to shift the population to our schools in the city. This would be disruptive to all of our schools, and impact important programs in place at our city schools.
    โ€ข Reconsider the BSS K-8 model.
    โ€ข Continue to rent trailers, and add additional trailers

    There you go. Vote “yes” or we’ll “shift the population to our schools in the city.” Not simply redraw feeders to all schools. No siree. And given this wording, it isn’t just city parents being held hostage.

    (They’ve changed this wording since my DL post, but I have the download.)

    Also, still no mention of the Skyline meeting on the district’s homepage or referendum site. Guess it’s invitation only! ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. February 8, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Readjusting feeder patterns in most of our elementary schools to shift the population to our schools in the city…

    Isn’t this what you meant when you pointed out Red Clay had 1000+ empty seats, mostly in the city? Or do you think the shift could be accomplished entirely by building magnet programs in city schools?

  25. February 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Yes, and no. Red Clay should readjust feeders to utilize existing space before building another new school. However, Red Clay suburban parents will panic, because most know the state of these city elementary schools. Magnet or other desirable programs could create demand for city schools… to the point where feeders would be left alone and… a new school wouldn’t be needed.

  26. February 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Hey, what’s up with Richey Elementary in Newport? Not that far from Wilmington, superior rating, and 77% capacity? I’ve never been there.

    It’s also not that far from Conrad, so if suburban parents are willing to send their middle school kids to Conrad, they should be willing to send their elementary kids to Richey.

  27. February 8, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Why would suburban parents leave their traditional elementary program to choice into (and provide transportation) another (Richey) traditional elementary school? The reason they are choicing into Conrad has to do with the program offered. We’re coming full circle. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  28. February 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    The Linden Hill trailers ARE pretty nice… ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Coolspringer
    February 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    It would have to be a bit of both, wouldn’t it?

    If gold star programs were able to draw students into the city schools, other students would be displaced, and there has to be some accommodation for where they will go. This is an aspect of inner-city school “gentrification” that I do struggle with, especially at our particular school. Which is why a larger vision is needed, rather than a school by school rat race…

    And it would be pretty silly for our school to get trailers with under capacity schools just neighborhoods away…though they do sound pretty cool…

  30. yoga_mommy
    July 24, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    I have enjoyed readng this entire conversation:
    I choice my children to Richey, it’s an amazing school. Small neighborhood school, where you walk in the doors & they can tell you off hand what your kids did that day.
    My daughter is done this year, but thankfully my son will continue on for a few years!

  1. February 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm
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