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First State hopes to expand charter seats with federal grant

Delaware Public Media

The Delaware Department of Education has received a $10.4 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education to improve the state’s charter school system.


Officials say the funding will support sharing best practices between charter schools and other public schools and strengthening the charter school authorization process.  It will also provide sub-grants to new charter schools for planning and existing charters for expansion.

John Carwell Jr. is with the Department of Ed’s Charter School Office. He says the Department hopes this will result in more charter seats in Delaware.

“Currently there are a little over 16,000 charter school students out of the approximately 139,000 total public school students enrolled in the state. Our goal is to increase the seats by 3,000,” said Carwell.

Carwell notes the Department seeks to increase awareness about school choice, especially among economically disadvantaged families.

He says the goal is to bring the percentage of charter students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds up from thirty percent to fifty percent.

Carwell adds that part of the money will go to developing an “authorizer report card” to help gauge the effectiveness of Delaware’s charter schools over its traditional public schools.

“If this student attended their feeder pattern schools, how are those students doing?” said Carwell. “And then over time, after a year, is the performance the same, different or better, or over a period of three years.”

The grant will be distributed over four years.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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