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House committee blocks another Wilmington redistricting plan

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The future is looking dim in the General Assembly for efforts to redraw Wilmington school district lines.

A House committee tabled the third version of a bill to embrace moving city kids from the Christina to the Red Clay School District Wednesday.

Two Democrats – Reps. Debra Heffernan (D-Bellefonte) and Sean Matthews (D-Talleyville) – joined all five Republicans in opposing the measure.

Heffernan says boosting funding to help low-income students and English language learners shouldn’t be limited to just Wilmington.

“We need a holistic view of education statewide – and poverty and [English language learners] statewide – to look at funding. I think this plan looks at something piecemeal,” she said.

GOP lawmakers have echoed that for months in an attempt to secure more funding for their typically rural and poverty-stricken school districts.

Heffernan points to her own bill, which would give schools statewide extra money based on its low-income student population. That proposal stalled due to a $12.3 million price tag in its first year.

“We need to spend more time looking at a kid-centered approach in educating students instead of an adult approach like changing district lines and governance," Heffernan said.

No Republicans spoke during the short hearing.

A second version of the redistricting bill backed by the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission that was originally scheduled for debate in committee has been sidelined for now.

Rep. Earl Jaques (D-Glasgow) says a backup plan involves using the available $6 million set aside for WEIC would be spread across all school districts whose populations have a certain percentage of low-income students should nothing else move forward.

It’s unclear how lawmakers will act before recessing June 30.

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