sponsored by Senator Robert Marshall would direct the 15-member
panel to recommend "the most appropriate, effective and
equitable process for students to attend schools in their
neighborhoods while still receiving the highest quality
of the controversial legislation have claimed that, if all
children were sent to schools closest to their homes,
residential patterns in the Wilmington area would result in
creation of high-poverty schools in which children would
be put at a disadvantage academically and that correcting the
imbalance would necessarily be costly and likely ineffective. A
high-poverty school is defined in which a majority of students
qualify for federally subsidized meals.
been in conversations with the senator (Marshall) on this issue
for some time. ... Needless to say, we are pleased with his
movement in this direction," said Tony Allen, president of the
Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League. That organization has been
an outspoken critic of the law.
Representative Wayne Smith, sponsor of the original legislation,
said he opposes the bill and does not think it has much support
in the House of Representatives. "I am always willing to discuss
ways to ensure the law is implemented more efficiently and
expeditiously. I am unwilling to support any efforts to delay
implementation, which this bill would do," he said.
Co-sponsors of the proposed legislation are Senators Margaret
Rose Henry and Dallas Winslow and Representatives Arthur Scott,
Dennis Williams and Hazel Plant.
preamble to Marshall's bill in effect supports the argument made
primarily by the Brandywine and Christina school districts which
have submitted plans to the state Board of Education asking to
be allowed to keep their present student-assignment structure.
It notes that high-poverty schools would be concentrated in
Wilmington and said "the latest educational research indicates
that students in high-poverty schools do not perform as well as
students in diverse income schools."
preamble also claims that "implementation of the Neighborhood
School plans will cost millions of dollars for the construction
of additional schools and for additional operating expenses."
enacted, the law would require the state board to report the
results of its review of the plans submitted by the school
districts to the new commission by Aug. 15, 2002. The commission
would then have 11 months to make recommendations to the
Assembly and the governor. That apparently would mean that any
plan would not go into effect until the 2004-05 school year.
board, which received the plans in November, has no specific
timetable for acting upon them under the existing law.. It has
scheduled public hearings in each of the affected
districts in February and March.
In inserting another step into the
review and implementation process -- which began soon after the
original law was enacted in 2000 with formation of a city
committee -- the proposed new legislation declares that "the
potential economic and educational implications for students
based on the preliminary neighborhood schools plan[s] are so
significant that additional research and evaluation are
necessary to avoid unintended negative consequences."