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Charter school lawsuit seeks funds from Christina School District

Delaware Public Media

15 First State charter schools are taking the Christina School District and the state’s Department of Education to court over funding.

A suit filed Tuesday in Chancery Court claims that in recent years Christina has withheld millions of dollars that should gone to charters under a state funding formula, and the state is not doing its part to address the issue.

The formula determines the amount of money districts send to charters that serve their students.

At issue are exclusions Christina is claiming to the pool of revenue considered when deciding how much of its money will follow district students to their charter schools.

In August, the state DOE informed districts statewide – including Christina - of adjustments to amounts owed to charter schools as part of an effort to iron out inconsistencies in the way districts were using the formula.

Christina said it stood to lose $3 million from its budget this year under the changes, and was not given adequate notice to prepare for that or dispute the changes.  After push back from lawmakers, district officials and others, Education Secretary Steven Godowsky announced last month there would be no funding changes this school year.

In their suit, the charters claim that decision by Godowsky was made after a state mandated deadline to make such a change, leaving them without funds they had planned to have.  It also argues that Christina’s exclusions have out-of-proportion for years, costing charters millions of dollars over time.

The suit seeks to reinstate the adjustments for this school year and force Christina to pay back funds inappropriately withheld since 2008.

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.