Wilmington education committee targets Delaware charters, redistricting in recommendations

    Saying that it was “time to act,” a committee formed by Governor Jack Markell called for major reforms in Wilmington education Monday.

    The Wilmington Education Advisory Committee’s interim recommendations iinclude a moratorium on new charter schools in the city and a redistricting plan that would remove two of the four districts currently operating within Wilmington.

    Wilmington has been divided into four districts since a desegregation push in the early 1980s, but politicians and policy makers have long called for a reconsolidation.

    Earl Jaques told WHYY/Newsworks earlier this month that his number one priority as the newly installed head of the Delaware house’s education committee would be to redraw Wilmington’s school district boundaries. Jaques wants Wilmington split between the Red Clay and Brandywine School Districts, meaning the Christina and Colonial School Districts would cede their share of city students.

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    The Wilmington Education Advisory Committee offered a similar proposal Monday. In its plan, Red Clay would serve Wilmington students currently attending Christina or Colonial schools. Brandywine would keep its present boundaries.

    The committee also asked Delaware to stop opening new charter schools in New Castle County until the state formulates a strategic plan for charter growth. Their call for caution echoes a recent resolution by the Wilmington City Council that asked for a charter moratorium. State representative Charles Potter also said he will introduce legislation that would temporarily halt the opening of new Wilmington charters.

    The recommendations attempt to boost local oversight of schools through the creation of an Office of Education and Public Policy within city government. Wilmington mayor Dennis Williams said he’d like to see such an office. He also endorsed the recommendations writ large as “another step forward in acknowledging the need for major reform in Wilmington’s school system.”

    Markell formed the advisory committee with an executive order issued four months ago. Its final recommendations will be handed down in March after a period of community response.

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