Wilmington school redistricting moves forward under new laws

Wilmington, Del. — Governor Markell today signed two bills that pave the way for redrawing school district boundaries to reduce the number of districts in the City and help families better participate in their children’s schools.

The laws were advocated by the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee (WEAC) to engage the community in Markell’s call to address educational challenges in Wilmington schools.  The committee was established by the Governor. Current and retired teachers, community leaders, parents, and concerned citizens worked on solutions, including a plan to address the district lines drawn 40 years ago by a federal judge as part of the desegregation of City schools.

WEAC, which issued recommendations that led to the legislation, was created in tandem with Markell’s announcement of the Priority Schools initiative to better support students at the lowest-performing schools in the state, all of which were served youth from struggling Wilmington neighborhoods. The redistricting plan was adopted as a way to not only transform those schools, but also improve the education of students throughout the City.

“We needed to tap into the passions of Wilmingtonians who have a valuable perspective on education in the City, but whose voices are not regularly heard. The Wilmington Education Advisory Committee did just that,” said Markell. “Our initiative to address the inequitable educational opportunities for so many Wilmington youth has turned into something bigger.

The legislation signed by the Governor included Senate Bill 122, which would allow for redrawing school district boundaries in the City of Wilmington. The new lines must be consistent with recommendations of WEAC. The redistricting plan will be developed by the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC), a group established by House Bill 148 to advise the state on improvements from schools that have high concentrations of underprivileged students.

WEIC will also create a transition plan to provide necessary services to affected schools and students and effectively implement school district realignment. The plan must be submitted to the State Board of Education, which must act by Dec. 31, 2015.

It must then be submitted to the General Assembly and the Governor for final approval. WEIC will also monitor the progress of implementation and recommend policies and actions to the Governor and General Assembly to facilitate progress and to promote the continuous improvement of public education on dimensions addressed by the WEAC recommendations

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