As advertised by the local rumor mill, results released at this weeks school board meeting showed the district lost $900,000 this fiscal year according to interim Superintendent Dorothy Nave, much of it attributed to state budget cuts; Laurel receives 80% of their funding from the state.

Ed Siebert, Laurel’s volunteer financial consultant while its finance director is on leave (been inhospial for a months with twins born early)  said, “bad budgeting” at the state level was ‘causing the downfall of this district.”

A large part of Laurel’s problem is the slow growth in development causing a very low tax base. For example a one-cent tax increase in the Laurel district raises only $11,000. Those of you who thought al these years when I said Laurel needed a larger tax base and those of you who fought growth, take this piece of information and stuff it.  Live in your comfortable home while the youth in our community suffer from your backwardness.

The district was about $250,000 in the red when Nave took the reigns and began her austerity measures which include; no further spending until a top-down financial review is complete; positions not grant-funded or based on student counts will not be filled or they come open.

Still officials say her measures are just stopgap measures buying some time. Siebert, the business director at the Sussex Technical School District says “Unless we do something dramatically different, we are not making payroll in April.”

Like it or not it is becoming evident Laurel should do like businesses do when they need a cash flow, merge or consolidate.



  1. According to this mornings News Journel Ed Siebert works for sussex tech. personally, if that is true he has no business nosing around in Laurel Schools financing! Just my personal feelings.

    • BSD- Dr. Siebert was asked by the Department of Education. He is getting paid NOTHING! Has alot of knowledge and was very informative. I was very impressed with him. He is only trying to help. You could tell that his main concern is the children in the district, he’s only trying to help.

      • Linda, you are so correct. This guy was so dynamic and so full of information. He put things out there in black and white and told us the true picture of what our finances are. I do not understand why this wasn’t done before by the people who are actually earning a salary to do just this. I do thank Mr. Siebert for his careful review of our finances. It is bleak and comes from many years of mismanagement. Now is the time for everyone to wake up and start taking notice. There is no more time. We need to do things differently or nothing will change. I do not understand why Mr. Siebert volenteered so much time to help us but I am most grateful that he has. It is what it is. We need to move forward, take his advice and try to climb out of this very big hole we have dug.

  2. I understand the new finance director has been hospitalized for a month with twins born too early and he was called in as a volunteer. Since they seem to have their books in order all the time I would appreciate the help.

  3. Frank as you have said before, we need the tax base… Laurel needs to develop the Rt13 corridor, we are the last town on Rt13 to bring business development to the town limits. I know you will hear people say that we should of let Discovery project go through, but per square foot a business is a better tax base. Lets see if Laurel can actually get water and sewer out to Rt13 for development.

    • I do believe for the first time in my life that sewer and water will go across the highway. It is slated for later this year. If my sources are correct the former Exxon across the flea mkt will annex and expand their building, probably to put in food to compete with the larger Royal Farms. The flea mkt is said to want to ecpand and turn their building into something different.
      If S/W can be brought from Culver Dr. to the highway another large drug store chain is coming.
      But is all of this coming too late to bail out the town and the schools? I am certain with S/W to the highway lands on both sides will be developed once the economy rebounds.
      I am excited, I hope I can hold on for a few more years to see my community be a viable competitor with other communitiea and not the laughing stock.

      • Maybe S.C.O.L.D.E.M. can help out with this situation, they did a good job before of stopping progress.

      • Yes, it was amazing 3 people who took the project to court and eventually lost could have killed a project. They were helped by the fact the economy tanked and the money from the banks dried up because of the pending law suit, and the long delay from the freaking court to render their decision, combined killed the project. Who knows, maybe just a shopping center may have gone there, or a few houses, but the ball fields and stadium would have lured people from all around. The sports complex in Georgetown draws thousands of families each year; hotels, food establishments, shops, and the beach all benefit from these travelers.
        Sometimes I could puke from the NIMBIES (Not in my back yard) who bitch about having nothing in Laurel, yet can never agree to allow anything major to come here.

      • Frank, you have said this over and over, this town needs a good town manager to move things forward. A town manager who knows how to get grants and who has a vision for our town is the only way we will actually make progress.

  4. Granted, the lost of state money did not help. That said, where the school spends its money should raise a red flag. A month ago, the NEWS jOURNAL ran a front page story on the schools that had the highest administrative cost. Guess who was number one. Some in the school system use the district as an employment agency for their families. How many people are we paying for who sit behind a desk and do not really do anything.

  5. I agree that Laurel needs a larger tax base to support the town services and especially our schools. But do we really need another gas station or quick stop market?

    What we really need now is another food shopping alternative. Every couple of months I make a trip to Harris Teeter in either Oak Orchard or Williamsville (between Selbyville & Fenwick). Great store and well worth the trip. Several friends from Laurel, Seaford and Salisbury also shop there. The powers that be in Laurel should be contacting and/or courting the headquarters of Harris Teeter to come to our town. It would draw shoppers and $$$ all the way from Bridgeville to Salisbury. Other businesses tend to follow, also.

    Laurel is a perfect location, if we can accomodate their space and sewer needs. I wish someone from the Laurel Chamber of Commerce or the Town would start writing letters or make some phone calls.

    Business will not just magically come to our town. Someone needs to seek it out and go after it !!

  6. We have put a freeze on hiring but we still went ahead and hired the construction liason before the money from the bonds is in our hands. I guess it doesn’t matter if the schools have no supplies and the class sizes are way over the sate cap. All I can say is, Shewwwwwwwwww!

    • Then something is flawed in the interview process. There was a search committee formed, they interviewed, the board interviewed, and everyone echoed, “I think we have found the man we need.”

      How deep did they research, what responsibilities did Dr. McCoy perform in other positions, who was watching the finances after Mr. Hitch left until the position was filled; what has happened since that allowed the finances to get out of control. Did the board know as much as they thought they did?
      Having served on the Tech board for 7 years I can tell you it takes a real expert in finances to understand a school budget. There are so many different accounts, federal, local, state funding; not an easy task trying to understand those budgets.

      • I do agree that the school finance are very confusing. When the guy from tech was giving us the overall bleak picture of our finances, we were all shaking our heads and saying where is he getting this. I hope to understand this better and strart paying better attention. It is very complicated.

      • Pam I’ve worked in preparing budgets when I was Finance Chairman as Town Councilman, as Asst. Sec of Public Safety, as Economic Development Dir., and as State Election Commissioner and understood all of them. , legally. I spent 7 years on the Tech Board and I’m not ashamed to say I never fully understood the system. Education has a huge slush fund where they can move money from one account to other accounts. Fustrating to say the least.

      • so how much is the general public entitled to know about switching money from one fund to another? maybe that is easier than it use to be. i remember when we were told that monies could not be transferred. maybe that only goes for certain funds. this whole mess has left me with a huge respect for the difficulty of correctly managing the money and, at the same time, less trust in believing it is done right. i sure hope the people on the oversight committee can figure it all out.

  7. This situation has just added fuel to lot of fires here. The school is broke because we have no tax base. We have no tax base for two reasons; we refused to let water and sewer onto the highway years ago and the town has let the properties in the town that are our tax base get into such bad shap that they are worthless as a tax base.

  8. I agree Laurel needs to have this expansion happen not only to generate tax base but jobs – and good jobs at that. Adding gas stations or restaurants are only good is people have the money to spend at them, and just milking our community for more dollars isn’t going to help anything. Especially if the only jobs generated are minimum wage jobs. As this expansion work begins, someone should be asking the state for help in getting businesses here – and not just in New Castle.

    Granted all budgets are set by expected income. Now if later figures don’t come in as expected measures have to be taken later in the year – and I have experienced that in many districts, budget freezes are not uncommon. Here is the other thing that really sets me off – it sounds like a lot of blame is on the state for this. I quote – “Bad Budgeting at the state level” – We are screwed because someone out of our control decided to cut what we get? I’m speculating that no positions in the Department of Ed are cut because they lacked budget money.

    No matter what – tax base is tax base, getting business here and attracting new people is the only way this town is going to survive.

    • First your tax base comes from the buildings not the jobs; to many in this area who don;t have a job or has a spouse who could suplement their income by taking one of these jobs means a lot to them. Then there are manager and asst. manager jobs which pay more.
      The state will help, as I tried when I was Economic Director for the county and had motels, steak houses and other businesses that wanted to come to Laurel but did not have sewer and water. To have your own systeem requires buying more land and the expense of a septic system. The airport in Geo. was getting zero money, but when I showed I was willing to work with them and make the changes they wanted we received $18 million over 10 years for FAA.
      We have to help ourselves first by taking action; hopefully Council has finally gotten the message. With growth will come businesses that pay decent wages, more people will live here, more new homes being built. The tax bases needs sto grow each year, you cannot operate schools and government on last years taxes, expenses as utilities and other factors increase each year.

  9. So disturbing on so many levels that I’m not sure where to begin.
    1) What the heck is “bad budgeting”? I can guess but I’d like a more definitive explanation of that euphemism. In real world America (or the one where I work) you lose your job for mistakes this big, i.e taking down a school district. How did this happen? Did one of the plethora of $100K a year/fat pension educrats in Dover with the Wilmington University doctorates make a mistake? And has this “bad budgeting” happened in other school district?
    2) Discovery Place was never going to save this town. In addition to incredibly bad timing, I didn’t think it was that good of a concept. More ball fields is not the answer. If it was a high tech learning center, I might have seen the benefit. Laurel was never going to become a “destination” place as the developers said. I go by Sports at the Beach enough to know that one ball field facility in this County is enough….that place has a lot more going for it than anything in Laurel would have and I see a lot of empty ball fields over there.

    Laurel needs to stop looking for that white knight to save them and start looking at themselves and see what they can do to make themselves attractive to businesses. Laurel needs to get realistic about their finances, deal with them, and come back and bring a new face to businesses. I know a developer with a successful project in Seaford who was talking about bringing a Wawa to Seaford and they are having trouble finding the right property. According the developer “Seaford is too important a market to not have the right property”. Why can’t that be Laurel?

    • Appreciate your comments Mary, can’t disagree with most of your post, but I must say I too thought one sports complex was plenty for Sussex County until I heard the owners of that complex continually looks for other ball fields in the county to handle tournaments they can’t handle. Apparently from my kids ‘travel ball’ is big and more and more kids are playing in tournaments because that is whee the college scouts go to see future recruits. So I am convinced the sports complex would have made it, the shops, I don’ know.
      Seaford is a hot area because business begets business. When you see a McDonalds, you soon see other fast food chains come, the same with hotels. I’ve seen motels pop up in places I thought the owners were crazy when I was in Economic Development, but they maintained an 80% occupancy rate average thoughout the year which is very good according to industry ranking.

  10. I am with you Frank, there is no doubt another ball field would have worked.
    FYI, a YMCA would have worked in my opinion as well. There is no place for children to swim, no place for those workout people to go, patients to do therapy etc. There are a number of social and community activities that a Y can bring to laurel.
    I called a medical place, no name, on rt13 to inquire about a position there….guess what they said?..We get our employees from PRMC, in Salisbury, but they are in laurel!!!.The council needs so sit down and decide what types of business does laurel need to bring here and what will keep the next generations roots here…. and to not just support the “good ol’boys ” cause when they retire in a sunny place not called laurel, de, their money goes too…what options has their hometown given them to do with it anyway…..

    • I exercise regularly and have friends that work out with me after school each day. We would love for someone to build a gym or place to work out in here in Laurel. I think I may join a gym in Salisbury or Seaford since I don’t have any options here. There are so many possibilities that our town is not looking at. Times have changed. People want different things. We need to keep up or we lose. Well, we already have, haven’t we?

  11. Pam, there was no way to control the former board that was in existence before July 1st. We know need to buckle down and see what we as a community can do for our kids. There was a new book just publiched by a Supterindentent in Ohio about how he starting working with the business community to receive things for the district. I sent the info on to Patrick a couple of weeks back. I will try to remember the name. I do know that the only place I saw him interviewed was on Fox Morning News. (I can see Frank Cringeing As I write this). It might still be there I will go back and check if it is I will post it here for all to see.

    • The real issue as the article pointed out is the small tax base and issues at the state level. But if you want to assign some blame, why not Dr. MCoy? Dr. McCoy was the one being paid well to manage and lead the district. He obviously wasn’t up to the task and as is becoming clearer and clearer, the board that as Bonnie put it wasn’t controllable…thank God! got this right by not renewing his contract and appointing Dr. Nave, who has done more leading in one month than I saw out of McCoy in his entire stay (he did do a nice job passing the microphone around the room during questions about the referendum so the board and others could answer so give credit where credit is due). He should have seen the issues at state level and acted accordingly to help reduce the districts risk or at least prepared us. Involving the community is always a great idea and by far is the greatest benefit this town received from the recent months with many engaged and I think McCoy did do a good job with the community, however it was the other 75% of his job that he wasn’t capable of doing and it took a board that finally gave a damn and realized this to step in and let a very nice man go before we had another Duda situation, also a nice guy but in way over his head.

      • I believe you may be referring to the second referendum vote. The first vote, McCoy was THE public face. The second time around, Lois was clearly in charge.

      • Francis, Your blame is in the wrong place. I have an issue with wasteful spending. An expense that occured since last August in this district was Attorney fees. Here are comparsions from five school school districts that the law firm handles, all from last August to June:
        Cape Henlopen – $4,125.00
        Ceasar Rodney – $7,734.56
        Milford – $878.00
        Woodbridge – $5,296.60
        Laurel – $29,272.19
        Our district blew all others out of the water. Information from Delaware Checkbook on line. New policy came into effect Thursday night on contacting the school attorney, so we should see a drop in this expense. The amount Laurel spent sure would buy alot of supplies for our children.
        Now, if you want blame anyone, lets start first with the Sussex County Council, who will not go after the quoted $800,000.00 past County taxes owed to this district. We need to contact the council and push for these taxes to be collected. This would certainly help our district out.
        Next, is the Delaware Legislature. Our Representative and Senator look out for us, but they are only one vote each. We need to contact the Govenor, Lt Govenor and ALL Representatives and Senators. We need to stress that the districts with a low tax base needs additional funding. The session begins in January, but its never to early to start. All you need to do is google Delaware Legislature and you can find the phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses. If they get enough pressure from the Laurel community we can possibly change the funding. Something needs to change or we will be reading about additional districts in the same boat. Remember,election time is around the corner. Each and everyone of us CAN make a difference.

  12. I’m glad we didn’t have to wrestle Frank (but remember I don’t give up easily) Here is the name of the book it took me a while but I finally found it listed on amazon. Superintendent Savings Strategies by Neil Leist. The cost believe it or not is 39.95. I say the district invest in one and if only one strategy works we have covered the cost of the book.

  13. If done properly nothing illegal; for example most grants pay for someone in the system to manage the grant; that money could be used to pay that person’t salary or partial, thus releasing that person’s salary to go toward another person’s salary; public safety money has many uses, can be used to pay salaries for security or to put in cameras, etc, unless specified as a line item to use money for that position or use. There ae many ways to legally move money.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s