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Teachers' union president weighs in on state cuts to education, other issues


Lawmakers continue to squabble over how to fill Delaware’s 2018 budget hole and deliver a balanced spending plan by June 30th.

Cuts to education are likely to be part of any solution and that’s not sitting well with educators.

The budget writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC) recently made nearly $16 million in education cuts and Gov. Carney has proposed slicing $37 million in state spending on schools.

That has school districts and other education groups on edge. The head of the state’s largest teacher’s union, Frederika Jenner, paints a dark picture of what those cuts will mean – if enacted.

“In the end it will mean larger class sizes at all levels.  It means a reduction in instructional programs and specialized help for students who probably need that extra help the most.  And a reduction in services for kids who are vulnerable,” said Jenner on Delaware Public Media's The Green.

Gov. Carney has offered districts a one time opportunity to raise taxes locally without a referendum to backfill about $22 million of his proposed cuts.

Some districts have expressed unease at using that so-called “match tax” option - with some school board members suggesting they weren’t elected to raise taxes.  Jenner begs to differ.

“My response and the response of the organization I represent is ‘Yes, you were.'  You were elected to support and guidance for the schools in your district,” said Jenner.

Jenner adds a bill that would allow districts to raise taxes up to three percent without referendum should also be considered, along with other ideas to stabilize education funding long-term.

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for nearly 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.