Delaware bill would steer extra money to low-income students

 File Photo (NewsWorks)

File Photo (NewsWorks)

A bill introduced Wednesday in the Delaware legislature would attach extra funding to low-income students.

House Bill 117 would require the the state to provide an extra unit of funding for every 250 low-income students. At present, districts receive a single finding unit from the state for every 20 students enrolled in grades 4-12. The proportion increases slightly for students in grades K-3. The state also provides more money proportionally to students with special needs.

If HB 117 passes, low-income students would command eight percent more funding than students who are not deemed low-income. Other states, such as California, allocate an extra 50 percent to students with high needs.

The bill does not specify how the state should determine low-income status, leaving that decision to the Department of Education.

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Representative Debra Heffernan, D-Claymont, is the bill’s lead sponsor.

“Providing an additional layer of funding would help pump more teachers, counselors and services directly into the schools that need it most so that all students have the best opportunity to succeed in life. It’s not enough to just identify the problem, we have to be willing to address the issue head-on,” Heffernan said in a statement.

Heffernan added later in a telephone interview that the idea of providing more money to low-income students has not, to her knowledge, ever been introduced in the legislature.

Thirty states attach extra funding to low-income students according to a 2013 report by the Education Law Center. That same report found 27 states with weighted funding formulas that direct more resources to English Language Learners.

Delaware does not assign extra resources for either group.

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