Markell advisory committee urges Delaware to stall priority schools plan

An educational advisory committee appointed by Delaware Governor Jack Markell is urging the governor to press pause on one of the state’s buzziest K-12 initiatives.

The Wilmington Education Advisory Committee wrote a letter Friday asking the state to stall its plans to turnaround six, low-performing Wilmington schools. The so-called priority schools initiative is now well into the planning stages.

The Red Clay School District, which operates three of the priority schools, has agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the state. The Christina School District is home for the other three priority schools. Negotiators representing Christina were expected to meet with state representatives Friday to hash out a priority schools memorandum of understanding palatable to both sides.

The Wilmington Education Advisory Committee wants to delay all of that activity until it can issue a set of recommendations on January 26. Those recommendations will not directly address the priority schools plan, but they will, according to the letter, “have impact on the broader set of governing responsibilities for all Wilmington schools.”

In asking for the delay, the committee said it has the support of Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams, City Council President Theopalis Gregory, and the entire General Assembly cohort representing Wilmington.

Markell formed the committee through an executive order issued in September of last year.

The committee’s call for caution belongs to a growing chorus of concern over the priority schools initiative. Although the committee did not say it disapproved of priority schools, it did suggest that it wanted to intervene before any plans take root.

“The Advisory Committee agreed early in our convening that we would take the long view with respect to public education in Wilmington, but would also take advantage of any opportunity to weigh-in on specific action items during ‘moments that matter,'” the letter read. “This is one such occasion.”

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