What We Believe
“We support additional resources for students with greater needs, with a priority on those that are living in poverty and English language learners—and, we support a gradual transition away from the unit system to a foundation formula in which every student is guaranteed the same base amount of funding each year that would follow them to their public school of choice—and that would then be supplemented with additional resources (or “weights”) based on their needs.”
"In other words, we can’t we fix these problems by simply adding more money to the current system. Additional allocations that take into account the needs of students, such as low-income students and English language learners, is a necessary first step. But simply layering money on top of the current system will not address the fact that allocating units leads to funding disparities not only between districts, but within districts.”
- Education Equity Delaware Coalition
Excerpted from Principles Statement and FA
Miguel and his family just moved to America from Guatemala. They are working on their English, but so far they speak and understand very little. Miguel had no formal schooling before he moved to the U.S.
— Miguel, age 15, 9th Grade
How the System is Holding Him Back
His school receives
no additional resources when he enrolls as an English learner student.
The state does not
require teachers of students learning English
to be certified, so they are often with a paraprofessional with limited expertise-if they get any extra
support at all.
His district has placed him in a separate environment with other non-English speakers, lower expectations, and a very limited curriculum focused on English.
He gets fewer opportunities than students in a traditional high school in courses, electives, and activities and is not expected to graduate until age 21.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Isn’t the unit count already student-based?
Delaware’s funding formula allocates units (or fixed staff positions) rather than dollars based on students. Even though student ratios underpin the unit allocation, the lack of direct allocation of dollars based on students is significant – it means that there is no set amount of funding for each student. A unit generates state funding for districts based on teachers’ degrees and years of experience, not based on the needs of students. This has led to inequity across the state.
2. Can’t we fix these problems by simply adding more money to the current system?
Additional allocations that take into account the needs of students, such as low-income students and English language learners, is a necessary first step. But simply layering money on top of the current system will not address the fact that allocating units leads to funding disparities not only between districts, but within districts.
3. Is a foundation formula the same as weighted student funding?
The term “weighted student funding” (WSF) is interpreted many different ways. Generally, WSF means funding is allocated in accordance to the student needs. A majority of states accomplish this through a foundation formula. In a foundation formula, every student is guaranteed a base amount of funding annually. Weights can then be added on top of the base as supplements for high-needs students.
4. Will districts and charter schools lose money in the new system? Will funding be reliable and predictable?
In a foundation formula, funding is guaranteed in a number of ways. First, there is a guaranteed base amount that every child must receive. Second, districts should be held harmless throughout the transition to the new system. Finally, moving to a foundation formula does not prevent Delaware from maintaining a state salary schedule for teachers, which guarantees a certain level of state funding.
5. What is meant by “multi-year phased rollout”? Is this just another pilot? Will this have statewide impact?
The transition to a foundation formula should be similar to that of the recent funding changes for special education. Every school will be included gradually, with adequate notification for schools about when they will transition. The transition for each school should take multiple years – allowing for sufficient planning and course corrections. We must begin deliberately with the intention of expanding statewide and improve continuously.
6. How does this relate to the Education Funding Improvement Commission (EFIC)?
EFIC is still working on producing recommendations. The letter intends to add and contribute to discussions throughout the state about how to transition to a student-centered funding system, the original charge of EFIC. The letter advocates that any changes made this year are accompanied by a process for moving away from the unit system in coming years. Many of the organizations signing this principle statement are represented on EFIC.
7. Will the transition process be expensive?
Costs include additional resources for students with needs, professional development for school and district leaders, potentially new accounting