Our school funding system is failing Delaware children (Mike Matthews)

Mike Matthews is a past president of the Delaware State Education Association. Are Delaware schools being adequately funded? Of course not, witness recent failures of the Christiana referendum and the Indian River capital referendum. “Real students and educators will be impacted” by these outcomes. “The fact that too many of our districts have to ask voters to raise their own taxes to maintain the bare minimum costs of keeping the lights on is not productive or efficient.”

Let's begin with a “real conversation” on property tax reassessment in Delaware.

Then adopt a four-track system for covering expenses: (1) Current operating expenses – Authorize school boards to raise “a modest amount of taxes” on residents, as is currently done in PA and many other states.; (2) New operating programs/ expenses – Require a referendum so residents can determine worthiness of the proposed new programs; (3) Current capital expenses – Appoint a state-wide commission to go into all schools, see if they are up to snuff (safety, environmental, and basic functionality to meet needs of the 21st Century, and prioritize the work to be done); (4) New construction expenses. – Let voters have a say, as in Indian River, but have the state “step in and mitigate a solution to get needed schools built” if the needed money isn’t approved.

In sum: “I support a plan where voters are still given a say; school board members are given a slight increase in authority; and the state steps in to share a greater responsibility for the physical needs of our schools.”

So the state would have zero responsibility for operating expenses, including new programs like English language learning (ELL) that are being touted these days?

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