Lawmakers Expand Full-Day Kindergarten
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2003 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
Gov. Ruth Ann Minner had part of her education wish list approved by Delaware lawmakers in the 2005 legislative session.
The $2.8 billion state operating budget for fiscal 2006 included an 8 percent increase in aid for K-12 education. That brought the fiscal 2006 education budget to $966 million, said Susan K. Haberstroh, an executive assistant at the state department of education.
The school funding included $3 million to expand full-day-kindergarten programs, which the Democratic governor has said she wants for all students by 2008.
Also included in the education budget is $13 million in a contingency fund for construction of space to expand full-day kindergarten, though Gov. Minner had sought $30 million.
Lawmakers allotted $1.3 million to put math specialists in 22 middle schools, said Dorcell S. Spence, the department’s associate secretary for administrative services and finance.
In other action, the legislature changed the state’s controversial three-tiered diploma system. The idea was that high school graduates could receive “basic,” “standard,” or “distinguished” diplomas under the plan, partially implemented in 2004. But the plan upset some parents and lawmakers because the type of diploma awarded would be based primarily on the results of standardized tests administered in 10th grade.
The legislature scaled back the program to two tiers for 2006 and 2007, and then to one diploma for all graduates in 2008.
One of the biggest educational accomplishments for Gov. Minner this year was persuading lawmakers to find $1 million for her Student Excellence Equals Degree, or SEED, program which provides tuition for Delaware students to get two-year degrees at Delaware Technical & Community College as long as they maintain 2.5 grade point averages.
Vol. 25, Issue 07, Page 16