School Funding Remains a Hot Topic in Delaware. Here’s Why

May 31st, 2023

Category: Funding and Equity

Momentum continues to grow in Delaware for an updated school funding system. And state officials continue to do more than is required by the high-stakes lawsuit that settled several years ago. Check out our recent blogs capturing the updates and progress underway pertaining to our funding system. 

Since then, much has happened: 

Budget Wins. In the still-to-be-passed state budget for Fiscal Year 2024, Governor Carney’s Opportunity Funding initiative—which provides extra support for every multilingual learner (MLL) or low-income student—will increase by $15 million, bringing the line item up to $53 million. This figure represents $3 million more than what is required by the funding lawsuit settlement. 

The RAND Corporation was contracted to undergo three studies on how Opportunity Funds are being spent. They found that funds are being used by schools on things that researchers recommend for improving student outcomes, including increased staffing, smaller class sizes and investments in wraparound and social-emotional services focused on MLLs and students from low-income backgrounds. 

Additionally, funding for Delaware’s Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP), the state-supported pre-K system, will double this upcoming fiscal year, expanding pre-K access to more families.  

Legislative Leadership. HS 1 for HB 33, a reintroduction of HS 1 for HB 144, would lower pre-K special education child-to-teacher ratios to align with K-three and four-12 grades as agreed upon by the lawsuit settlement, was funded in the Governor’s Recommended Budget.  

HB 62, a reintroduction of HB 252 from last year, would implement rolling property reassessment every five years to ensure that property taxes (from which school taxes are determined) are up to date and accurate. 

Student advocates from Cape Henlopen High School attended the March 17 Vision Coalition event on school funding.

Events and community engagement. On March 17, the Vision Coalition hosted an event focused on school funding with local and national experts, as well as over 100 members of the community, including non-profit leaders, educators, students, community leaders and others.  

Meanwhile, a recent survey of Delawareans conducted by the Local Journalism Initiative found that:  

  • The majority of respondents think that the state spends too little on improving the state’s education system (64 percent). 
  • Education and schools are considered to be a top issue for respondents. In fact, these are considered to be among the top five problems facing Delaware, with more respondents citing education and schools as a pressing problem than those who cited the unemployment and personal finances, the environment, transportation and infrastructure, housing and real estate, healthcare and insurance, and social issues.   

As the independent assessment being conducted by American Institutes for Research (AIR) continues to progress, the local community continues to be engaged and eager to learn more.  

The Vision Coalition will be holding a second installment of the Equity in Education series on June 12th at 1 p.m. on Why Money Matters in schools, with special guest Julien Lafortune of the Public Policy Institute at UC Berkeley. His research has found that increased funding over multiple years in K-12 education leads to higher test scores, graduation rates, college attendance and adult economic outcomes. His research has also found that how funding is targeted, to students, schools, or districts, matters for student outcomes.  Register for the webinar to learn more here. 

Related Topics: , , ,

Julia Zammith



More from: Funding and Equity

Top 5 Takeaways from Legislative Briefing on School Funding

March 15th, 2024

Author: Julia Zammith

Delaware School Funding Report: What Happens Next?

February 8th, 2024

Author: Julia Zammith

Study Recommends Major Updates to School Funding System: A Look at the AIR Report

January 30th, 2024

Author: Julia Zammith