School District Consolidation

Last week, House Concurrent Resolution 39 passed both the Senate and House.  It establishes Dover’s favorite thing in the whole wide world, a task force.  That task force will look at the impact of consolidating school districts in the state of Delaware.

Above is a map of the current school districts.  There are 19 districts in Delaware that range from 15,000 students to 1,200 with varying administrative costs.  The number in each district above shows the number of total schools in that district.  Visually, given the number of schools, and without knowing anything else (a risky proposition, granted), I would consolidate the districts as follows:



I have taken all of Christina’s schools in Wilmington and placed them in Red Clay.  Yes, I know there are problems with the finances of that (giving Christina a funding boast and putting Red Clay in a hole) and that will have to be worked out. But it just makes sense geographically. In total, 19 school districts have been consolidated down to eight.  Sussex County, home of Delaware’s conservatives, had the most inefficient set up. They previously had SEVEN school districts serving a population that is roughly equally to Red Clay and Brandywine combined.   Yeah, those downstate conservatives are going to learn about efficiency, because they are only going to get two school districts.

The Smyrna School District is absorbed by Appoquinimick, and Casear Rodney swallows Lake Forest and Capital.

Your thoughts?



Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

14 comments on “School District Consolidation

  1. Brian Stephan

    Point of information: “Christina gets a funding boost by converting Wilmington Schools to Red Clay.” Maybe, but probably not so much, by removing Christina from the City the district would take an estimated 20% hit to their taxable base. (All those corporate properties & residential homes/units in the city pay property taxes too). The District would lose 5 schools (4 elementary, 1 middle) but it remains to be seen whether the 20% loss to the tax base will be made up in the loss of operating expenses on those 5 schools.

  2. mikem2784

    I’m fine with it except for the names. These would be “new” districts, so the names should probably be changed and the HS allowed to keep their respective identities and mascots. It seems like a silly point of contention on something I fundamentally agree with, and frankly I don’t personally care, but it would go over much better if presented as I described.

    • Delaware Dem

      Yeah, I was just using the more recognizable name for the new districts. But whatever, the names can be changed.

  3. I know nothing either (since that is apparently not a bar to commenting) — why not consolidate NCC districts further? Could the Colonial district be divvied up among the other four? It would be useful to show not only the number of schools per district but also approximate number of students, at least in your proposed reorganization.

    • Delaware Dem

      Absolutely, this is just a rough first draft of what a consolidation plan might look like.

  4. What about consolidating Brandywine and Colonial for a combined 32 schools, or puttting some or those schools in Red Clay and Christina and making the three roughly equal? The specific benefit I see in this is the balancing of tax base as a more equitable model. Districts should not be racially identifiable, and I can make a case that our current NCC districts are. When districts are so geographically close, resources could be shared, like transportation, for example. The very reason some states have one school district per county is to create an equitable funding model. Other states have been sued and forced to consolidate districts. Delaware should be proactive and do it just because it is the right thing to do.

  5. I really don’t get the political obsession in Delaware about this plan. This effort would take a ton of work and political capital, piss everyone off, and save a negligible amount of money (honestly I think it would actually cost money to do.) and all of this for no expectation of increased student achievement?

    I just don’t see the point.

  6. Why do we need separate Vo-tech Districts? Make them one district instead of three and get rid of the crooks in the Sussex Tech District. Cutting the districts in Sussex east to west instead of north to south is interesting.

    • Or what about integrating the technical schools into the surrounding district — wherever they are? When did vocational schools get separated out? Seems to me back in the day — that would be the 1970s — these were more like specialty schools in the district. Isn’t it useful to have kids mingling with each other across economic status, intellectual ability, culture (rural, suburban, urban, where applicable within a district)? And I mean it’s good for everyone, not just in one direction. I was on a dedicated college track in high school, but I benefited a lot from taking print shop (or whatever it was called, more process than art) and auto mechanics. I met kids I never met in my academic classes and I still I use the skills I learned in those classes today, something I can’t say about trigonometry.

  7. Unless consolidation means getting rid of a whole lot of district level administration so more money goes to the classroom and you don’t just shuffle people around into new positions it is meaningless.

    • Unless we commit to revising the funding model, all larger districts would do is have those new bigger districts qualify for more administrators and with the need to then level up teacher’s salaries any small savings is lost. I don’t think a statewide vo-tech district is helpful because that would essentially result in significant travel up and down the state to provide support in schools and classrooms by content supervisors, instead it would be better to integrate them into a regional district but allow for open enrollment via school choice regardless of residency of the student, thus vo-techs would not have a feeder pattern but could provide a county preference for students who live in the county they are located in. I also think we should look at some of the programs in the schools and districts to make sure we are setting up equitable opportunities for all students in the state. I’m hopeful, however that this new commission will approach this task with an open mind, bring new ideas to the table, and not simply recycle old ideas that haven’t worked or try to just again put duct tape on our broken system and try to make it into something it isn’t.

      • cassandram

        This makes sense to me — I really doubt that this consolidation will save as much money as people expect. However, rethinking the districts along with a revised funding model (one that does not let Charters hoard resources) is the real job.

  8. Why not a statewide unified school district like in Hawaii or Puerto Rico? Or just 1 school district per county? The size of the County districts would not be unreasonable. The New Castle County school district would only be the 42nd largest in the country in terms of number of students. And the Kent and Sussex districts would not even come close to being in the top 100 districts in the country in number of students. And given the small geographic size of Delaware, they’d probably all be pretty normal in terms of land area.

    • cassandram

      The first drawback of consolidating by county is that there will be a disruption of neighborhood feeder patterns at the county borders.

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