Gov. John Carney and his education secretary will hold an hourlong town hall via telephone Thursday night to discuss his proposed $37 million in cuts and other issues in his proposed $1.4 billion budget for Delaware’s K-12 public schools.
Carney’s office announced the Tele-Town Hall on Tuesday, urging educators, parents and other residents to participate in the 7:45 p.m. call with him and Education Secretary Susan Bunting. In his proposed fiscal 2018 budget, Carney’s first as governor, he has called for “shared sacrifice” with a mix of program cuts and tax increases. About one third of Delaware’s general fund budget is spent on public K-12 education.
“As I have been meeting with constituents across the state in our Budget Reset Community Conversations, many Delawareans have shared ideas with me about how we can better serve our students,” Carney said in a written release. “This is an opportunity for me to hear from educators and parents – those who know first-hand where our education dollars should be prioritized.”
To participate, Carney is urging Delawareans to sign up by 2 p.m. Wednesday using this link: www.de.gov/teletownhall. Those who have signed up will get a call at 7:45 and be connected to the event.
Carney’s budget proposal has led many in Delaware’s education community to express grave concerns. Most troubling is his proposal to cut $37 million that now pays for teacher salaries, reading and math specialists, intervention specialists,, sports teams and other initiatives.
Most fear repercussions from voters should districts levy a so-called match tax to offset their share of $22 million of the proposed cuts. Levying the match tax would only have to be approved by a school board – not district voters– and could jeopardize future attempts to raise money through a referendum that voters would decide.
Others are concerned that he has rejected a proposal by the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission to spend $7.5 million for low-performing city schools with high percentages of low-income students or those who require special instruction to communicate and learn the English language.
Carney’s predecessor Jack Markell, along with state lawmakers, formed the panel to help guide decisions on improving schools in Delaware’s largest city. Instead of the $7.5 million for struggling city schools alone, Carney has proposed spending a total $1 million statewide in “opportunity grants” for schools with high percentages of low-income students or English language learners.