The Delaware Department of Education is asking for a 6.6 percent increase in its budget for fiscal year 2020.
Education Secretary Susan Bunting wants about $1.58 billion for FY 2020, compared to her nearly $1.5 billion request in FY 2019.
She’s proposing more money for several new items, including raising Opportunity Grant funding from $6 million to $10 million and adding $4 million for a block grant.
Her priorities include raising the percentage of students reading and doing math at grade level and boosting the number of graduates who can enter college without needing remedial classes.
Bunting adds the state’s population of special needs students continues to grow.
She plans to talk with school districts to determine reasons behind more students needing special education services.
“Is it an influx of students from out of state, are our students being serviced at one level and then they find out they need additional services," she said. "So we will be engaging in the conversation.”
State Rep. Kim Williams worked last year to win $3 million for basic special education for students in kindergarten to third grade. Williams said she’ll sponsor legislation seeking more next year.
“So we’re hoping to have some additional funding this year added to it," she said. "We’d like to to be fully funded, but you know it depends on you know what the governor’s budget is.”
The budget request faces criticism from the Delaware State Education Association. Kristin Dwyer with DSEA said she’s not sure the $4 million block grant is enough money to cover school security, special education funding and reading coaches. She said teachers deal with students who have significant mental health challenges and a lot needs to be done to improve school security.