Delaware Public Media

Gov. Carney extinguishes talk of new funding for high-poverty schools

Feb 23, 2017

In a blow to Wilmington education activists, Gov. John Carney (D) says there’s no money this year to better fund high-poverty schools.

One of the cornerstones of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s plan was for the state to divert more money to schools serving kids from low-income families.

But with a projected $350 million budget shortfall for next year, Carney said during a tele-town hall meeting Wednesday night that it isn’t happening.

“We’re obviously not going to have the kind of revenue to provide additional resources to children…from disadvantaged backgrounds, something I think we ought to look at in the long term,” Carney said.

He also mentioned creating a group to analyze what else needs to be done to better educate children from low-income families.

The Markell Administration spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, which has floated such recommendations last year. 

It’s not a surprise to those who’ve supported such an idea.

Sen. Brian Pettyjohn (R-Georgetown), a member of the Senate education committee, says the state Education Department needs to be retooled first to help lower costs – something Carney promised to do. Department spending this year tops $1.3 billion out of a $4.1 billion budget.

Once that happens, a pilot program will be needed to fine tune the proposal, Pettyjohn says.

“We need to have a proof of concept before we make that kind of investment over a larger scale, statewide.”

Carney's transition team, which included WEIC chair Tony Allen, pegged a pilot program in all three counties to cost $15 million.

Pettyjohn expects such a program to start in July of 2018 at the earliest – if Delaware has the money.