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Gov. Markell's statewide education review includes charter school application moratorium

Delaware Public Media

Gov. Jack Markell is ordering a moratorium on all new charter school applications for the 2016-17 school year.

Markell made the announcement at Thursday’s State Board of Education Meeting alongside calling for a review of all school programs and assess demand for different subjects.

Both initiatives came from a preliminary report from the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee, which Markell says need to be applied statewide.

“We thought the recommendation of the committee to do a strategic plan to really understand what the unmet needs are of our students made a lot of sense and we thought it would be important to do that work before additional authorizations are made,” said Markell.

The governor adds that's specifically true for charters.

“The question is what fit, what unmet needs are the charters filling and really, that’s a statewide issue and not a Wilmington issue,” said Markell.

The charter moratorium will not affect any approved charters set to open in the coming years.

Five new charters are set to open this fall.  They are Delaware Design Lab, Delaware Met, First State Military Academy, Great Oaks, and Freire Charter School. Two charters have also already been approved to open in fall 2016, Mapleton at Whitehall and Delaware STEM Academy.

As Delaware Public Media reported on "The Green" last week, the state's Charter Schools Office in January rejected the only two applications it received for new charters at the preliminary review stage, the first step in the process.

The governor says the full review will also assess demographic needs, noting one example might be increasing English as a second language classes in Western Sussex County.

Markell also cited high demand for vo-tech schools and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs as areas where the state could grow.

Markell notes that he expects the full review to continue through the remainder of 2015.

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