Charter school overhaul making progess in Delaware

It’s going to be tougher to start future Charter Schools in Delaware. A bill to reform Delaware’s nearly 20-year-old charter school laws passed the house 31-9.

House Bill 165 is designed to improve charter school accountability, raises the standards for new charter schools and appropriates new state funding.

One of the biggest updates to the charter school law is the establishment of a performance fund which would require the state to allocate up to $5 million to high-performing charter schools to expand services.

Opponents of the performance fund said it takes away crucial funding from public schools.

“Last week, we had a referendum vote in Colonial School District and we went to the public with hat in hand and the referendum vote only passed by 67 votes,” explained Rep. James Johnson. “We stood a chance of laying off quite a few teachers as well as paraprofessionals and I think it’s a slap in the face if we just provide ‘willy-nilly’ funds to charter schools.”

The bill will also make state laws more stringent on newly established charter schools by requiring a pre-screening process, applicant interviews and more public input.

Additionally, it will establish and enforce “expectations” for charter schools such as board member training, a revised renewal process and closure procedures.

The new rules come a week after Pencader Charter High School graduated its final class before closing its doors in New Castle. The troubled school had years of financial controversy and leadership troubles before the State Board of Education revoked its charter earlier this year.


Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal