DOVER, Del.- Delaware's charter school system got a major overhaul Wednesday. Gov. Jack Markell signed the biggest update to that system since the law first allowing the schools was enacted in 1995.
The bulk of Delaware's charter schools are in New Castle County, but Kent and Sussex also have them. Sussex is home to Sussex Academy. Kent is home to four charter schools, including Academy of Dover and Campus Community School, and will get two more in 2014.
Supporters say the changes are great for Delaware's charter school system. But it is the effect some say they will have on public schools that has them unhappy.
Markell said the law strengthens support for charters and holds them more accountable.
"It raises the bar for starting charter schools," he said. "It provides increased flexibility and support for high-performing charter schools. It sets and enforces constant and high expectations for the schools."
The law makes it easier to close low-performing schools. It also creates a fund specifically set aside for high-performing schools, and gives them access to capital improvement funding. That is part of what created opposition to the law.
"We believe the addition of more funding for charter schools to use for capital expenditures stands in direct opposition to the needs we have serving students in Delaware's traditional public schools," the Capital School District School Board wrote in a letter to lawmakers.
House Education Committee Chair Rep. Darryl Scott, D-Dover, said there was money specifically set aside in the budget for public schools -- a lot more of it, too.
"They looked at it as we're taking money away. No, we didn't," he said. "We money had that came available through the DEFAC process. We made a decision to make an investment in traditional public schools and charter schools."
The new fund for charter schools can be up to $5 million. Lawmakers currently set $2 million aside.
There are more than 110,000 students in Delaware. There are a little more than 10,000 kids in charter schools. Of those, about 1,800 are in Kent and Sussex counties.
Thursday, December 5 2013 8:53 PM EST2013-12-06 01:53:54 GMT
MILFORD, Del. - It was like a scene from a Hollywood movie.A high speed chase through Eastern Sussex County that eventually ended near Milford, but not after a 70-mile cat-and-mouse game with police. PoliceMore
Police officers chased 45-year old Jorge Vasquez for almost two hours through multiple towns. That has some people questioning whether police should have stopped the pursuit.More
Thursday, December 5 2013 8:40 PM EST2013-12-06 01:40:13 GMT
MILFORD, Del. - Walking inside of Bonnie and Hank McCann's Milford home, you'll find a Christmas wonderland of sorts. "It just kind of gives you that wonderland effect walking in the door," said BonnieMore
Walking inside of Bonnie and Hank McCann's Milford home, you'll find a Christmas wonderland of sorts.More
Thursday, December 5 2013 7:23 PM EST2013-12-06 00:23:26 GMT
SALISBURY, Md.-Late last week Salisbury City Council President, Jake Day was pulled over in Anne Arundel County. According to online Maryland Court records he's accused that day of driving 73mph in aMore
Late last week Salisbury City Council President, Jake Day was pulled over in Anne Arundel County.
According to online Maryland Court records he's accused that day of driving 73mph in a 55mph zone.
Thursday, December 5 2013 3:55 PM EST2013-12-05 20:55:07 GMT
Princess Anne, MD –Maryland State Police criminal investigators arrested two suspects today in the murder of Adrian Lurele Marshall in Princess Anne. Police say those arrested are identified as BrandonMore
Maryland State Police on Thursday arrested two suspects in connection with last week's fatal shooting of a Princess Anne man.More
A high-speed police chase that traversed eastern Sussex County ended in Milford on Wednesday afternoon, authorities say. Georgetown Police say they've arrested 45 year old Jorge Vasquez for reckless endangering, resisting arrest, failure to stop on command of a police officer and numerous other traffic offenses, in connection with today's chase.More