More Work to Be Done

On July 26, 2016, the Commission voted unanimously to suspend the timetable for redistricting. That vote was consistent with the resolution the Commission passed in March which stipulated that the timetable would be suspended if the “necessary and sufficient” funding was not provided.

As expected, the Commission acted quickly and with great resolve. We have always believed that funding must be provided by the state and that there should be no undue burden on Red Clay or Christina tax payers. Last night was another affirmation of our intent.  While the timetable for the redistricting plan is suspended until the necessary and sufficient funding is provided, the Commission has a mandate through 2021 and intends to continue its work through that time. 

We continue to believe that a fragmented system that separates 11,500 children into 23 different governing units is inherently unfair and inequitable. Even more egregious is the STATEWIDE inequity in funding for schools with high concentrations of children in poverty, English language learners, and basic special education kindergarten through third grade. Both of these challenges must be addressed, and we remain committed to so doing.

Additionally, I cannot emphasize enough the Commission’s commitment to the other priorities outlined in our mandate and our plans, all of which have equal importance to the more highly publicized redistricting initiatives. As you well know, they include the following:

  • Engaging parents – particularly those from less advantaged communities – to ensure that they can navigate the educational landscape deftly for their children and can become advocates for educational reform;
  • Mobilizing capacity from all sectors to support the instructional and non-instructional needs of low-income children throughout our state;
  • Supporting enhanced collaboration between and among district and charter schools throughout the state; and
  • Continuing to assess the educational performance of City of Wilmington children by charter and district (never done until the Commission stepped in) and developing a more inclusive measure of student achievement STATEWIDE.

We remain committed to our partnership with the Red Clay Consolidated School District and the Christina School District and look forward to continuing this work together.


Legislative Update

On June 30, 2016, the General Assembly gave interim, conditional approval for the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting plan. See the Commission press release below, informing of the actions taken.

Delaware General Assembly Affirms the Commission’s Plan
Governor commits the “necessary and sufficient funds” for next year Commission suspends timeline

June 30, 2016, Dover, DE — As the 148th Delaware General Assembly legislative session ended, the House and Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 17, an interim affirmation of the Delaware State Board of Education’s approval of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting plan and Senate Bill 300 (SB300 with HA1), which clarifies the funding implications and supports further analysis by the Commission.
In a related action, Governor Markell committed to put no less than $7.5 million in his FY 2018 plan to support the Commission’s plan, specifically to begin to change the 70-year old student funding formula. In a letter to the Wilmington delegation, Markell said, “I am proud to have worked alongside you in these efforts and pleased to commit that I will recommend an appropriation of the funds necessary and sufficient to fund the first year of implementation of the proposals of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, specifically an amendment to the unit count that would carry additional support for low-income students, English Language Learners and students with special needs statewide.”
In response to the passage of the joint resolution and the Governor’s action, Commission Chairman Tony Allen noted that because the “necessary and sufficient” funding has not yet been provided, he will immediately call on the Commission to suspend the timetable for implementing its plan. He offered the following statement on the impact of the resolution.
“While I am disappointed with several aspects of this legislative season, SJR17 allows the Commission to fight another day. After 62 years of waiting, fight on we will.  The Commission is wholly committed to reducing the fragmentation and dysfunction caused by 23 different school systems currently serving Wilmington children, less than 10% of Delaware’s student population. In addition, the Commission will continue to focus attention on the needs of low-income students, English language learners, and other students with special needs in Wilmington and throughout Delaware. That includes meeting the non-instructional needs of these students, engaging empowered parents in school reform, and changing the antiquated funding system for students and schools that has for many years created sustained inequities dating back to well before Brown v Board of Education (1954).  I am grateful to the 22 other commissioners, the previous members of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee, and the more than 10,000 community members who have been participating in this process. I urge your continued resolve.”

Timeline of Plan Approval

For a detailed timeline on the development and approval of the redistricting plan, visit the Timeline of Plan Approval section.



This book is the first volume in the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s series, Solutions for Delaware Schools.

It will be followed by reports that focus on key areas of the Commission’s mandate: meeting the needs of students in poverty, improving charter and district collaboration, and strengthening parent, educator, and community engagement in support of Delaware’s public schools. The Commission also will submit an annual report to the people of Delaware, the Governor, General Assembly, and State Board of Education that tracks progress against the milestones set out in this Plan and that also informs our citizens and leaders on actions needed to address the challenges facing public education throughout our state.

In front of us now—for the first time since Brown v Board (1954)—is the opportunity to equitably provide funding for low-income students, English language learners and other students with special needs statewide and to significantly reduce the variability and fragmentation, which is particularly acute in the City of Wilmington. There have been many attempts to get this right in our state’s history and unfortunately, inertia has always won the day. This time must be different!

A full list of commission members, committee co-chairs, and commission support staff is posted on the Members page.

Visit the Resources section for relevant fact sheets, presentations, and additional reference material information.

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