Rep. Kimberly Williams is sponsoring a bill that eliminates admission preferences for students living within a 5-mile radius of a charter school. This change was supported by a majority vote of the Enrollment Preferences Task Force established by House Bill 90 of the last session of the General Assembly. The Act will take effect for the 2018-2019 school year, and any charter schools currently using the 5-mile preference must cease application of that preference at that time.
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO CHARTER SCHOOLS.
SPONSORS: K. Williams, Sokola, Kowalko, Marshall, Poore, Townsend, Walsh, Baumbach, Bentz, Heffernan, Jaques, Keeley, Mitchell
YES VOTES – HOUSE: B. Short, Baumbach, Bentz, Brady, Carson, Collins, D. Short, Dukes, Gray, Hensley, Hudson, Jaques, K. Williams, Kenton, M.Smith, Miro, Osienski, Outten, Paradee, Postles, Q.Johnson, Ramone, Smyk, Spiegelman, Viola, Wilson, Yearick
NO VOTES – HOUSE: Bennett, Bolden, Briggs King, Heffernan, J. Johnson, Kowalko, Longhurst, Lynn, Matthews, Mitchell, Mulrooney, Potter, Schwartzkopf. [Absent: Keeley]
YES VOTES – SENATE: Bonini, Bushweller, Cloutier, Hansen, Hocker, Lawson, Lopez, McBride, Poore, Richardson, Sokola, Walsh
NO VOTES – SENATE: Delcollo, Henry, Marshall, McDowell [Absent: Ennis, Pettyjohn, Townsend] [Not Voting: Lavelle, Simpson]
HISTORY: Passed House 27-13-1. Passed Senate 12-4-2-3
STATUS: Waiting on Governor to sign
OK, we know this is aimed at Newark Charter, whose five-mile radius is even more exclusionary because virtually all the real estate to the west is in Maryland.
As a practical matter, this bill’s impact would be minimal for three reasons:
1. it would not affect the hundreds of students already enrolled there.
2. given the proliferation of educational options beyond neighborhood schools through both charters and choice, how many parents are going to say it’s worth their while to send their kid six, seven, even 10 miles for elementary school? (For high school, maybe I could see it, but the way Newark Charter is set up, kids who go there K-8 automatically roll into the high school, so there will be few openings at that level.)
3. If a school is popular enough to use a lottery for admissions, the kids from 10 miles away are in the same pool as the kids who live around the corner. It’s not like they’ve got a better chance of getting in.
Bottom line: this preference is exclusionary in a geographic sense, and that may well have implications in terms of the school’s economic and racial demographics, and that, in and of itself, is sufficient reason for the preference to be removed, but the class photos at NCS, and most other charters, in 2027 will look pretty much like the ones being taken this year.
mediawatch, if all that pans out to be true, there is literally no reason to have a geographic admissions radius at all. So let’s get rid of it.
the bill also gives a carve out for Newark Charter that allows them to give preference to students from only the contiguous portion of the Christina District, meaning they can still keep Wilmington students out. It doesn’t actually add much area to what NCS is required to enroll. It might actually increase NCS’s diversity though if a bunch of students from the newly eligible portion of the route 40 corridor decide to get put in the lottery.