Teachers Lament Axing of Delaware Teacher Center Funds - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Teachers Lament Axing of Delaware Teacher Center Funds

Posted: 08/23/2017 20:35:00 -04:00 Updated:
The Holy Cross Delaware Teacher Center location in Dover. (Tom Lehman/WBOC) The Holy Cross Delaware Teacher Center location in Dover. (Tom Lehman/WBOC)

DOVER, Del. -- Paula Kohout, a paraprofessional at W.B. Simpson Elementary School in Wyoming, was busy late Wednesday morning laminating classroom materials at Dover's Holy Cross School.

Being able to take advantage of the free resources and tools at the Delaware Teacher Center's Dover location was important, Kohout said, because she could get materials prepared for classes on a day when the laminator at her school wasn't working.

"It's vital to us to be able to come here and get our classrooms prepared and make a fun learning environment for our students," she said.

But teachers like Kohout might find it much more difficult this school year to access those free resources, which also include printers, hole punches, and other services. Budget-writing lawmakers slashed hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for DTC while trying to balance the state's budget amid a projected deficit that once rose to nearly $400 million.

DTC Director Misty Yencer said the funding cuts eliminated the part-time staff manning the nine teacher centers across the state, effectively closing the ones that don't have any outside support for staffing.

Yencer, who said her position was being funded in the current budget year through state contingency funds, intends to operate out of the Holy Cross center but noted its hours could be limited, an added inconvenience for teachers whose classes are during the day.

"Not only are they going to give up their time, they're going to be giving up more money. They're already giving up hundreds and hundreds of dollars every year," she said.

Yencer said some school districts like Lake Forest and locations like Delaware Technical Community College's Owens Campus already provided some staffing for their teacher centers. Those locations, she said, would likely remain open but may have diminished hours of operation without DTC staffing support.

A message on the Delaware Teacher Center's website declared all DTC operations and professional development programs had been suspended. DTC's Facebook page has been giving updates on when some locations will be open for a limited time.

The Holy Cross center was abuzz with activity on Wednesday as teachers from area school districts prepared materials for the new school year. Many said they were upset about DTC funding being cut.

"I'm so sad because I've been using this place for three years and this place has been helping me for helping kids for the past three years," said Xiwen Li, a teacher with the Chinese-immersion program at Allen Frear Elementary School.

Deb Marano, also a teacher at Allen Frear, said losing DTC would likely cause parents and teachers to pay more for classroom materials.

"The resources here, especially for brand new teachers, are invaluable," she said.

Since supplies for the Delaware Teacher Center were ordered in the spring, Yencer said the supplies would be available to teachers until they ran out.

For now, Yencer said she is focused on making sure teachers are able to use whatever DTC resources may still be available by working with districts, colleges, and organizations to see if some locations can be opened on a limited basis.

"We've struggled to get one open in New Castle County," she said. "We've had teachers driving down here."




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