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Gov. Carney offers weighted funding plan to aid disadvantaged students

Sarah Mueller
Delaware Public Media

Gov. John Carney is asking for $60 million in new spending to help low-income students and English Language Learners in the First State.

Carney is pitching a major expansion of the Opportunity Grant program, which gives schools additional money for disadvantaged students.

Under the proposal, the state will spend $20 million annually over the next three years through a mix of one-time revenue and on-going appropriations.

School districts and charters will receive an additional $300 for every low-income student they have and an extra $500 for every English Language Learner.

Carney said the focus will be on making sure students can read by 3rd grade and do math at grade level by 8th grade.

“You learn to read from birth to Grade 3 and you read to learn the rest of your academic career," he said. "Our targets are very specific, 3rd grade reading, 8th grade Math, and graduation college or career ready.”

William Penn High School senior Valentina Maza knows what it’s like to adapt to a new language and school without needed resources. Maza moved to Delaware from Venezuela without her parents.

“There are students whose academic abilities are underestimated because of their English proficiency and there are students dreaming to pursue higher education who are unsure how to get there,” she said.

Districts will decide from a menu of choices how to spend the money. Options include reading or math coaches, trauma counselors, and after school programs.

Spending plans must be approved by the Delaware Dept. of Education.

Carney said the pending lawsuit alleging inequities with the state’s funding formula was not a factor in offering this proposal. But he said it may help with the administration’s case. 

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