CRI News


House Bill 129--
More authority to raise taxes on property owners without a referendum
Date:  5/2/2019
 
When 3 referendums are defeated in the last several months and many more in prior years, I do not believe the first action taken by our legislators is to take the voting rights away from the residents, rather legislators should find out WHY the residents are voting NO.  If this bill passes without first finding out why residents are voting NO and addressing those issues, I believe it will be almost impossible to pass any referendum. This sends the message, "we the elected officials don't want to know why residents are voting NO. 
 
Here are a few reasons why I believe residents are voting NO. 
 
1. The State has reduced funding, passing more and more funding onto property owners, not only for education but social needs. {DDOE has even stopped updating reports that show the significant cuts made by the state and the significant increase in local funding, further evidence that transparency on funding is strongly opposed, the legislators have shown they are strongly opposed to accountability by slashing the staffing of our auditors while providing more and more funding to our agencies.
 
2. Delinquent school taxes have skyrocketed. Many middle class jobs have been lost and while it is true many are now working,their income is far less.
 
3. Local funds are being used to fund the "social needs" of our children, clearly social needs should be funded by other agencies and funded by ALL taxpayers, not just property owners.
 
4. Property owners are convinced we do not need 19 school districts, the last study did not even have a funding analysis. Why are some administrators percentage of local funding in their salaries much higher than school level employees. Why don't the salary scales for administrators show the amount funded by the state and amount funded from local funds?
 
5. Failure to take any action to reduce overhead by consolidating support services.  What has been done is to fund the New Castle Data Service Center to provide the districts and DDOE with services, yet no employees have been terminated and or reassigned.
  
6. Every year property owners school taxes are increasing because of the skyrocketing increase of children with special needs, especially those in the category of intensive and complex. Currently our school boards have authority to raise this tax rate without informing the residents or providing any justification. This year 16% of our children have special needs and they earn 37% of the Div. I Units and almost all of the related service specialists, plus providing authority for other units, many of these children are also ELL and low income. { I believe the average cost for a child attending one of our special schools is around $90,000. I have just learned from a Freedom of Information Request that at least in one special school ALL local salaries are funded from Tuition Tax Revenue, also last year 624 fulltime employees were funded 100% from local funds, most from tuition tax revenue. Very few employees and very very few residents are aware current operating local revenue is funding only 63% of Div. 1 Units, very few related service units and very few if any paraprofessionals. Why do our school boards not provide this information to the property owners, another example of no transparency.   
 
7. No transparency on how and where our districts, charter schools are spending $2.5 billion annually, and because the miscoding of expenditures is so widespread our auditor could not compare spending between districts, we cannot develop best practices on what allocation of resource provides the best results. 
 
8. To further limit the information being provided to the residents, DDOE has stopped updating staffing reports and state financial reports, the residents don't even know have much money they are providing by category or how many employees they are funding, for some reason DDOE thinks this information is not important. {DOE staffing reports never included DOE employees.} 
 
9. No audits which are required by state law are conducted to verify $2.5 billion in annual expenditures are being used for the purpose provided and expenditures are legal.
 
10. The state funds district wide choice transportation for high achieving students starting in the 6th grade. In order to attend these schools, the children must be selected to attend schools like Conrad, CSW, CAB, DMA, IB at Dickinson, 6-8 grade at BSS, however for children who are not selected to these special schools and would like to choice and for every other student in our K-5 schools, they must provide their own choice transportation. {In Delaware, if you are poor, you have no choice, however if you are a high achiever or you can provide your own transportation, you have a choice, that is a disgrace.}
 
11. Unlike those children who are high achievers, if you want to attend vocational courses, you are not provided any opportunity starting in the 6th grade, and if you cannot qualify in the 9th, you cannot attend vocational courses in one of our vocational schools. {Sussex Tech denied over 1000 children over a 4 year period, no one knows what happens to these children. I wonder how many end up in jail.} 
 
I believe we must find a way to provide local funding for our children, but taking the voting rights away from the residents as the first course of action, will only make the problem worse.
 
Written by:  A Concerned Citizen