Governor Carney Signs Legislation to Expand and Make Permanent Opportunity Funding in Schools
June 30, 2021
Senate Bill 56 expands and makes permanent supports for low-income students and English learners
WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Wednesday signed legislation to increase classroom-based support for low-income students and English learners in Delaware public schools.
Senate Bill 56, sponsored by Senator Laura Sturgeon, expands and makes permanent Delaware’s Opportunity Funding program. The weighted funding program provides direct, classroom-based support for low-income students and English learners. By Fiscal Year 2025, funding for the program would more than double to $60 million annually.
Learn more about how public schools are using Opportunity Funding to support low-income students and English learners.
“My top priority has remained the same. We need to make sure that Delaware’s most disadvantaged students are getting the education they need and deserve. This legislation will help us live up to that promise,” said Governor Carney. “Our Opportunity Funding program is already providing direct, classroom-based support for low-income students and children who are still learning English. Senate Bill 56 will expand those efforts. We’ll also look closely at how schools are using this new funding, and make sure we know what’s getting results for Delaware students – and what’s not. Thank you to Senator Sturgeon and members of the General Assembly for their overwhelming, bipartisan support of this legislation.”
“Whether it’s one-on-one time after school for extra help or access to a good counselor to work through trauma, or smaller class sizes to help with focus and attention, these Opportunity Funds will allow schools to address the needs of our most vulnerable students,” said Senator Laura Sturgeon. “I am proud to have sponsored SB 56 as an important step toward closing the achievement gap and I thank Governor Carney for signing this legislation into law today.”
“The operating budget for Fiscal Year 2022 and Senate Bill 56 will go a long way toward addressing long standing inequities in how we fund education in Delaware by recognizing the simple fact that students facing the greatest challenges require extra support to succeed,” said Senator Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman. “These bills represent an important step forward, but they are not the end of our journey. We owe it to our children to make even more targeted investments that will support students with the greatest need and undertake deeper systemic reforms in the coming years.”
“The opportunity funding is a very important first step to making our state’s education funding system more equitable, flexible and responsive to student needs,” said Representative Nnamdi Chukwuocha. “It truly puts our students first and provides the flexibility needed at the school level to promote student growth and development.”
“Today, we are at a key moment in history for public education in Delaware, with many different efforts converging around the same goals of access, equity, early intervention, and resources for underserved communities. SB 56 and the expansion of the Opportunity Funding program is a key component of this progress,” said Representative Kim Williams. “Real change is within our reach for the first time in many, many years, and I truly believe that we will achieve the progress that our children and families have been waiting for.”
“During my tenure as superintendent of Indian River School District, I watched as our English learner population continued to grow and our schools were challenged to meet those increasing needs with no additional state support,” said Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education. “This funding is significant, not just because of the dollar amount but because of the lives it will change, the children who will receive the supports they need so they can succeed. This is changing their lives and their families’ lives, and ultimately the future of our communities and state.”
“With increased funding for more EL teachers and resources by signing SB 56 into law, thousands of students and their families will have more opportunities to break barriers, and help create a better Delaware for all of us,” said Kimberly Stock, Delaware’s Teacher of the Year. “Governor Carney, on behalf of all the Delaware educators and our EL students, I thank you.”
“SB56 is a major accomplishment, signaling that Delaware is addressing historic education funding disparities for students who come from low-income communities and those who receive ELL services,” said Dorrell Green, Superintendent of Red Clay School District. “The fact that Delaware has formally put permanent weighted funding into law is progress towards helping so many at-promise students reach their full potential. Governor Carney’s signing of the legislation demonstrates his commitment to children statewide.”
“We are encouraged by the passing of SB 56 and the permanent funding for our highest needs students,” said Stephanie Ingram, President of the Delaware State Education Association. “We thank Delawareans for Educational Opportunity, the Delaware NAACP, and the ACLU for bringing this issue forward and fighting to have Opportunity Funding become permanent. We thank the members of the General Assembly and the Governor for quickly responding to the terms of settlement so that the schools and the children that need this funding the most have it as they return to the classroom this Fall.”