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February 8, 2016

Mr. Darryl Scott

Chairman of the Education Funding Improvement Commission
Chairman Scott:
The topic of education funding in Delaware has been discussed for decades upon decades. It is the
position of the signers below, the reason for the longevity of the current funding system, is simply this,
the core concepts are sound and rational.
The current system is based upon a weighted formula. The current system needs adjustments, as
any evolving system does.
The most recent examination of the current system has been undertaken by the Funding Student
Success Committee of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission. The members of the
committee are:
Jill Floore, Co-Chair
Mike Jackson, Co-Chair
Susan Bunting, Ed.D.,
Kristin Dwyer
Kevin E. Carson, Ed.D.,
Emily Falcon
Ed Freel
Jason Hale, Ed.D.,
Scott Kessell
Elizabeth Lewis
Tizzy Lockman
Mike Matthews
Mike Piccio
Ed Ratledge
Robert Silber

CFO, Red Clay Consolidated School District

Deputy Comptroller-General, State of Delaware
Superintendent, Indian River School District
Director of Legislation & Political Organizing, DSEA
Executive Director,
Director, Division of Business, Colonial School District
Policy Scientist, University of Delawares Institute
For Public Administration
Director of Business, NCCVT School District
CFO, Brandywine School District
Office of Management and Budget, State of Delaware
Vice-Chair, Wilmington Education Improvement
Commission, Red Clay Parent
President, Red Clay Education Association
Red Clay Consolidated School Board
Director, Center for Applied Demography & Survey
Research, University of Delaware
CFO, Christina School District

The Committee developed the following positions and ultimately voted upon nine recommendations.
The positions developed were:
1) The Committee reaffirmed the belief the unit system in Delaware is effective at distributing
2) To recognize weighted units to update the current funding system to provide additional resources
to support low-income students and English language learners.
3) Determined firm definitions of poverty are needed to establish the appropriate weighting.

4) WEAC recommended property reassessment be implemented without further delay and

undertaken on an ongoing basis, reflecting national best practice. Property reassessment is
necessary for strengthening the uniformity, equity and effectiveness of the education funding system.
5) Given Delawares system of shared responsibility where funding comes from both the state and
local level to fund education (and, more specifically, units) the committee discussed the following
process for districts:
A. The current local tax expense rate should be adjusted based on some
index of inflation (such as CPI)
B. When additional state resources become available needing a local match
(such as weighted units for ELL and poverty), districts could cover the cost
with the additional money earned through the inflation adjustment.
C. If the local match is still not met, district school boards have the option to
vote on whether or not to match tax.
If the board does not vote to raise funds through a match tax, what happens
to state resources? Either:
A. The district does not receive the unit: The group discussed this
option would hurt the districts, the weighted units are intended to
help those with the least ability to raise local funds.
B. Units are converted into funds, of which the district would
receive some portion: The committee favored this option because
it would give districts flexibility over how to spend the resources.
6) The committee reviewed the Fiscal Year 16 Recommendations of the
State of the Delaware Equalization Committee and endorsed its recommendations. As stated in this
report, The purpose of the Equalization formula, is to allocate state resources to districts inversely on
their ability to raise revenues through their local property tax base. This allocation is an attempt to
ensure each district has substantially the same level of resources with which to educate each
student. Committee members added; a one-cent tax increase could have widely disparate returns
for school districts due to differences between their respective tax bases. The frozen formula and
lack of reassessment means equalization dollars are being allocated unreliabily and ineffectively.
7) The Committee discussed it should revisit the topic of weighted student funding formulas after the
modifications to the current system have been made.
The nine recommendations voted upon unanimously by the committee, with the exceptions noted in
recommendations six and eight:
1) The committee voted and agreed to recommend the concept of weighted unit
funding described above and continue tweaking the details of the model, such as how to weight for
poverty and ELL.
2) Committee members raised the point, in order to ensure consistency, they may need to
recommend a method for counting and identifying basic special education students grades K-3.
Currently, this application doesnt exist in code. Mike Jackson offered to revisit the fiscal note for H.B.

30 to determine possible ways to fund for these students. The Committee voted and agreed to
endorse H.B. 30 with the acknowledgement a process for consistently
identifying these students needs to be determined.
3) The Committee voted and agreed student enrollment counts are an important issue needing to be
addressed because student transience after the September 30 th count greatly impacts districts. It
agreed any new method of counting students should hold harmless the districts experiencing
decreases in enrollment midyear.
4) The Committee voted and agreed education funding should be restored to 08 levels.
5) The Committee voted and agreed to endorse the recommendations of the 2008 HJR 22 task force
and to implement rolling property assessments.
6) The Committee discussed current expense tax rate implications for supplemental funds. The
Committee voted to support the districts ability to raise local revenue through the following measures:
A. Until property reassessment occurs, districts impacted by redistricting must be
authorized to enact tax rate adjustments to meet current operating expenses as
voted by their school boards. Taxpayers should be reassured this recommendation
is not intended to allow school boards set tax rates without limits; annual tax
adjustments should not exceed inflation as measured by the CPI. This funding
mechanism would provide districts much needed stability in the local revenue
base. This mechanism should sunset after the recommendations for rolling
reassessments are implemented. The Committee endorses the recommendations
of the Fiscal year 2016 report of the Equalization Committee. The recommendations
also call for reassessment while providing measures to begin to address disparities
in the short term.
B. There was one dissenting vote. The dissenting opinion was districts should
maintain the ability to raise local funds after reassessment because fixing
Equalization and adding in a floor during reassessment is not enough of a
net for districts during economic downturns. Also, the dissenting opinion
was the school boards should be allowed to approve increases in operating
fund tax rates annually up to a limit without referendum and beyond it with
referendum if there is some extraordinary need.
7) The Committee voted and agreed to endorse the concept of a WEIC transition
fund to support the planning needs identified by the WEIC Redistricting Committee.
8) The Committee discussed the issue of capital funding. Some members expressed discomfort with providing 100% state funding for within the capital funding
stream for needs related to redistricting. The Committee discussed this may not
be good precedent, but it would not be fair to Red Clay to shoulder the burdens of
projects deemed necessary as part of redistricting. The Committee defined two
sorts of capital funding needs:
A. General renovations to existing buildings for existing purposes.
B. Significant conversions/changes in purpose to existing buildings or
creation of new buildings.

There was no motion to vote on the issue, and it was decided the Committee
would revisit the subject at its next meeting.
9) The Committee discussed funding for early learning. Dan Rich explained
the Early Learning Challenge grant was focused on improving access and
quality in early childhood education. Without this funding, which will lapse this
year, support for low income kids to retain access to quality improvement programs through the tiered reimbursement system will be eroded. This will have
significant impact on children in Wilmington and statewide impact. The
Committee voted and agreed to endorse the concept, recognizing the early
learning funding operates on principles similar to those the Committee
used to develop a weighted unit model. The Committee noted the tiered,
reimbursement system for early learning is a complement to the K-12 weighted
unit model it is recommending.
As you can see, definitive positions were taken by this Committee. We believe the funding
rationalization which was discussed in the WEIC Financial Sub-Committee also applies to the work of
the Education Funding Improvement Commission. We respectfully request inclusion of this document
in the working product of the Commission.
Kevin E. Carson, Ed.D.,
Executive Director, DASA
Heath Chasanov
Superintendent, Woodbridge School District
Kristin Dwyer
Director of Legislation and Political Organizing, DSEA
Jill Floore
Chief Financial Officer, Red Clay Consolidated School District
Jerry Gallagher
President, Delaware Association of School Business Officials
Victoria Gehrt, Ed.D.
Superintendent, New Castle County Vocational School District
Walter Gilefski
Woodbridge School District Board of Education
CC: Education Funding Improvement Commission
Michael Jackson, Controller Generals Office
Brian Maxwell, Office of Management and Budget

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