School Realignment Plan Approved by Cape Henlopen School Board - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

School Realignment Plan Approved by Cape Henlopen School Board

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In the 2014-2015 school year, 58.1% of the students at HOB were low-income (Source: WBOC) In the 2014-2015 school year, 58.1% of the students at HOB were low-income (Source: WBOC)
In the 2014-2015 school year, 29.2% of the students at MES were low-income (Source: WBOC) In the 2014-2015 school year, 29.2% of the students at MES were low-income (Source: WBOC)

MILTON, Del. - A controversial school realignment plan was approved Thursday night that will make the number of low-income students at the two Milton elementary schools more balanced. "Option O" was proposed by Superintendent Robert Fulton at the meeting, as a slightly amended version of the controversial "Option F," which was proposed at the May 26 meeting. 

"We have a lot of poverty in this district," said Fulton. 

Just as with Option F, the plan sends students north of Slaughter Creek to the Milton Elementary School, instead of H.O. Brittingham, where they go now. The main difference is that Option O maintains the same boundaries that are currently in place, within the town limits. This was to address concerns from parents who live close enough to walk to one Milton school, but were being bused to the other one under "Option F."

PERCENTAGE LOW INCOME STUDENTS ("OPTION O"):

H.O. Brittingham Elementary School: 44.8%

Milton Elementary School: 43.2%

Richard Shields Elementary School: 27.7%

Rehoboth Elementary School: 32.4%

Love Creek Elementary School: 31.1%

TOTAL NUMBER OF STUDENTS ("OPTION O"):

H.O. Brittingham Elementary School: 417

Milton Elementary School: 465

Richard Shields Elementary School: 542

Rehoboth Elementary School: 500

Love Creek Elementary School: 549

The plan was met by a lot of support at the meeting, although some parents remained frustrated. Some parents, who have students currently enrolled at MES expressed their opposition to having to send their kids to another school. Some MES parents also said that this plan would just make both schools worse, while making neither better. 

"The town of Milton is still carrying the burden of poverty for the district," said Dianne Pearce, an MES parent, who started a petition against Option F in May. 

Pearce pointed out that test scores have scored low at H.O. Brittingham. She said she didn't want these scores to come to Milton Elementary School as well. This was a thought echoed by parent Frank Payton. 

"You're trying to make things look good on paper..." he said. "But where are the resources?" 

Payton said the Milton schools appeared to be the "red-headed stepchild" due to the changes. While low-income students at H.O. Brittingham were sent to MES, none were sent to the Lewes or Rehoboth schools, which he felt was unfair. Fulton said that the Milton-area low-income students were not sent to Shields or Rehoboth due to an effort to limit long bus rides. 

"Our district is too large," he said. "I felt it would be too hard on the student to artificially move them." 

Former Asst. Principal at H.O. Brittingham, Janet Maull-Martin said that this was a good first step. But she said more work needs to be done by the board to improve the Milton schools. 

"I want the board to focus on the resources," she said.

The vote to approve "Option O" was unanimous. 

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