Race to the stop? State pulls Christina grant

Governor Markell says the Christina School District broke its pledge to implement reform plans. That’s why the state froze $11 million in Race to the Top funds destined for the district.

The Christina district and its teachers union agreed to changes to two schools as part of their  Race to the Top plan.  Christina leaders wanted to focus on Stubbs Elementary and Glasgow High.  That transformation is one of four options for districts to turn around low achieving schools with another option ofshutting the schools down.  But after starting the process, the district voted Tuesday not to transfer teachers to new positions as part of the transformation.  

That raised a red flag to the state.  Delaware Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery says the state has a moral obligation to help students in the district do better, “The school board’s recent action retreats from that obligation.  We hope Christina’s leadership will come back to the table and return to the work they pledged to complete.”

Governor Markell issued a statement following the vote, saying “When they voted to stop their own reform plan, the board voted against giving students at these schools a stronger shot at success.”  According to Markell’s staff, the district’s $11 million Race to the Top funds will be held until the district shows that it will adhere to the original agreement.

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As part of the Race to the Top Delaware established a “partnership zone program”.  It offers financial resources and technical assistance to carrying out reforms. 

Late Friday the Christina School District put out this statement:  “The Christina School District remains committed to the process of transformation at both Glasgow High School and Stubbs Elementary. We are continuing along the path set out by the Partnership Zone plan and are confident our efforts are aligned with the goals of radically changing these two schools. The DOE’s decision to freeze funding will ultimately put that process on hold. The ongoing commitment of the Christina School District demands that we must proceed without delay. We are anxious for the State to revisit its decision to freeze federal funds marked for these reforms so that we may serve the students of Christina per the state approved Partnership Zone plan supported by Delaware regulation. We look forward to working with the DOE and the CEA to expeditiously resolve this issue on behalf of the children of Christina.”

The News Journal in its Saturday edition quotes Govenor Markell as saying he was encouraged by the statement:  “We appreciate their statement that they are committed to change, and hope that board actions back those words up shortly,”

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