The state has created an Office of Improvement & Innovation to focus on Wilmington’s struggling schools and Gov. John Carney has tapped a top Brandywine School District administrator to lead the effort.
Dorrell D. Green, a longtime educator who is a Brandywine assistant superintendent, will have a staff that includes unspecified employees from the Department of Education who were not identified but have “experience supporting students and schools in need,” Carney’s office said in a news release Tuesday.
While the mission will be to assist Delaware’s neediest schools, the office will be based in Wilmington and concentrate on the city schools with the most problems, the governor’s office said.
Carney’s announcement comes almost three years after predecessor Jack Markell committed $6 million over three years to six designated Priority Schools in Wilmington – one middle school and five elementary ones. Markell had threatened to close the schools, replace leaders and teachers or turn the building over to a charter unless schools improved dramatically.
The schools, which draw many students from Wilmington’s poorest and most violent neighborhoods, remain open and have made some gains. Yet all continue to struggle, with proficiency in core subjects among the lowest in the state. One of those schools, Warner Elementary, will be featured on WHYY’s television news show “First” this week.
Carney applauded Green in a news release announcing his appointment to the $133,400 post that he starts Aug. 1. His salary at Brandywine is $152,000.
“All Delaware students deserve a quality education and an equal opportunity to succeed,” Carney’s statement said. We must provide our schools most in need with the resources and supports necessary so that every child has that chance. Dorrell is a proven leader who knows from first-hand experience how to overcome challenges to improve academic outcomes for Delaware children.”
During his almost 19-year education career in Delaware, Green has been a teacher at Christina School District’s Bancroft Elementary and Stubbs Elementary and a school leader at Stubbs, Christina’s Bayard Middle, and Brandywine School District’s Harlan Elementary before leading Brandywine’s Title I and Elementary Division.
“Dorrell’s work as a successful teacher, school leader and district administrator in Delaware schools, including some of the schools where his work in this new role now will focus, gives him the expertise needed to lead this new team,” state Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said.
At Brandywine, Green currently oversees district operations, including the elementary school division, school climate, safety/security, crisis management, facilities, transportation, school nurses, school social workers and alternative education programming.
“I have dedicated my professional life to mentoring, educating, coaching, and supporting our children in the city of Wilmington,” Green said.
“I humbly accept this opportunity to help lead change within the city that I know our families, educators and children want. Working together with various stakeholders, my goal is to close the experience and opportunity gaps for young people in the city, especially those living in vulnerable communities. I know we can improve outcomes for our children, and put them on a positive path forward.”
Wilmington Mayor Purzycki was one of several lawmakers and education leaders who praised Carney’s move in the release sent out by his office.
“I am very glad to see that additional attention and resources will flow into the educational system that affects the lives of our children in Wilmington,” Purzycki said
“This new office will focus on what’s needed to improvement student achievement and we stand ready to be as supportive as possible as the office carries out its work. We look for good things from Dorrell Green and his team and we thank Governor Carney for making the education of our children a top priority.”
State Rep. Stephanie Bolden, a Democrat who represents Wilmington’s East Side, where Stubbs and some other struggling schools are located, agreed.
“As a former teacher I know that schools are more than just schools – they are safe spaces for children to grow and develop academically, personally and socially,” Bolden’s statement said.
“I hope the new team builds on the work that has been done by the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission over the years and works to ensure that children are supported and have the resources necessary to succeed.”
The commission, known as WEIC, had sought $5 million from Carney’s fiscal 2018 budget for low-income and low-performing Wilmington schools, but Carney said the state didn’t have the money for that initiative. His budget also cut $26 million form the state’s $1.2 billion annual contribution to Delaware K-12 schools.
The new office is one of Carney’s initial steps to reorganize and streamline Bunting’s department, including eliminating 10 vacant posts and a pledge to review other posts for eliminating as they become vacant.