The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2005 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.
Delaware lawmakers have capped several years of debate by passing a mandate that the state’s 15 school districts offer full-day kindergarten programs by the 2008-09 school year.
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Under the new law, schools will be required to set up full-day offerings for kindergartners, and the state promises to reimburse them for the costs. Parents will have the option of enrolling their children in half-day programs.
The bill is the final step in a multiyear effort proposed by Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, a Democrat, to make full-day kindergarten available in every district. In recent years, the state has offered financial incentives to districts wanting to offer the services, and construction money to districts that needed to expand their facilities to accommodate the longer school day for kindergartners.
“This is the culmination of a lot work over several years,” said Sen. David P. Sokola, a Democrat and the chairman of the Senate education committee.
Along with the kindergarten bill, the legislature passed a $1.1 billion K-12 education budget for the 2007-08 school year, an 8 percent increase over the previous year.
At the end of the legislative session, a committee of House and Senate members issued a report recommending changes to Delaware’s testing system. The panel proposed a two-tiered system that would consist of locally designed assessments that measure students’ academic progress regularly during the school year and a statewide end-of-year exam to track progress compared with the previous year.
A version of this article appeared in the December 06, 2006 edition of Education Week