Gov. John Carney, Delaware Education Secretary Susan Bunting and education advocates announced Jan. 15 a three-year, $60 million Opportunity Funding initiative to target resources toward Delaware’s disadvantaged students.

This program, for the first time in Delaware, will provide weighted funding for low-income and English learner students in schools across Delaware. Every Delaware school district will receive a per-pupil appropriation for each English learner and low-income student they educate. In the next three years, the Delaware Department of Education will work with district and school leaders, community representatives, parents and educators to evaluate how districts are using the funding and to measure the progress of these students.

“Delaware is one of only a handful of states that does not target additional resources for low-income and English learner students — students who we know need additional resources to reach their fullest potential. This Opportunity Funding initiative will change that,” said Carney. “Despite the efforts of committed educators and school leaders, many of these students are not getting the education they deserve. If we expect all Delaware children to have access to a world-class education, this is an issue that we can’t afford to ignore. Every child, regardless of their background, can learn and deserves every opportunity to succeed.”

The program initially will be funded with a mix of ongoing and one-time funding in Carney’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal. The $20 million annually could be used by districts to fund additional reading and math specialists, counselors, trauma-informed training, after-school programming and smaller class sizes, among other potential uses. District spending plans must be approved by the Department of Education, and spending authorized under the initiative must directly benefit low-income and English learner students.

The Department of Education will work with an independent entity to evaluate results under the new initiative, and a separate commission of community leaders, parents and educators will help evaluate the program’s success and spotlight best practices to achieve results for these students.

“As a former superintendent, I can tell you how valued this extra funding will be by our schools. Our English learners and our students from low-income families need more support,” said Bunting. “We long have been one of only a handful of states that doesn’t give additional funding for these students. Thank you to Gov. Carney for making sure that changes today.”