Del. Charter School System Gets Major Overhaul - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Charter School System Gets Major Overhaul

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(Photo: MGN) (Photo: MGN)

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.
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