Funding in Delaware

delaware-fundingThere are more similarities than differences in funding of Traditional School Districts and Career Technical Education (CTE/Vocational) School Districts. The few differences that exist are relatively minor.

All Delaware school districts are primarily funded through a trilogy of State, Local, and Federal funds. The following is an explanation of the primary funding streams.

State funds:

  • Predominately allocated to districts based upon number of students enrolled so there is equity between traditional and Career Technical Education (CTE/Vocational) School Districts.
  • The more students - the more money.
  • The State provides “weighted” funding for students in approved Career and Technical Education (CTE/Vocational) courses because those students are more expensive to educate than non-vocational students (specialized equipment and instructional materials, Skilled and Technical Sciences {Trades-and-Industry} teachers, requirements to meet ever changing Business & Industry Standards, Work-Based-Learning/Job Shadowing, etc).
  • All high schools, middle schools and some special schools (such as the Sussex Consortium) are eligible to apply to the State for Career Technical Education (CTE/Vocational) courses for their students.
  • Career Technical Education (CTE/Vocational) students are found in all districts, not just the three Career Technical Education (CTE/Vocational) School Districts.
  • Any district can create Career Technical Education (CTE/Vocational) courses and gain State approval and State funding for those classes.

Local funds:

  • Based upon two elements – property tax base and tax rate.
  • Each traditional school district has a unique geography and economy that generates an exclusive tax base from which the district assesses their local funds through property taxation.
  • Some traditional districts enjoy a strong property tax base while others do not. To level-out net funding and to provide equity, the State uses a special block grant called “Equalization.” Through Equalization, the State provides much extra State funding to those districts that suffer weak local tax bases in hope of making up the differences in local funding.
  • Career Technical Education (CTE/Vocational) School Districts serve entire counties and assess taxes using county-wide tax base.

Federal funds:

  • Allocated based primarily upon the number and characteristics of students within a school district and the aggressiveness of district grant writing.
  • This funding source has dramatically decreased over the past two years for CTE Districts due to an interpretation of allocation guided by students aged 5-17, when realistically the CTE population is at best aged 12-17 for a high school.

At the core, all school districts are partners in the important mission of educating Delaware children – our children. Every school district has suffered fiscal challenges during this long, brutal recession. Each district is working hard to improve the quality of services despite the funding challenges. Money is ALWAYS an issue.

School Choice Funding:

  • Intra-district - no change in funding
  • Traditional School District to Traditional School District - state funds and potential portion of local funds follow student (if receiving district tax rate is lower - a portion of sending district local tax follows)
  • Traditional School District to Charter School - All portions of both state and local funds follow the student
  • Traditional School District to CTE District - Only state portion of student follows the student. Local taxes stay with home/local/sending district