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2024 DE General Assembly News

2024 DELAWARE GENERAL ASSEMBLY NEWS

Video Update:  APRIL 10, 2024

Proposal Would Require Rapid Action to Fix

Poorly Performing Schools

A bill awaiting consideration in the Senate would require immediate steps to address profoundly underperforming schools in Delaware. House Bill 192, sponsored by State Reps. Bryan Shupe (R-Milford South) & Kim Williams (D-Newport, Stanton) and State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn (R-Georgetown), aims to mandate remedial action plans in any public school where less than 10% of students are meeting proficiency standards in English Language Arts or mathematics. Under the measure, superintendents of districts with failing schools would be required to collaborate with the Department of Education and school administrators to create short-term and long-term plans to raise performance. “The long-term plan is designed to address the systemic issues that led to these schools’ underperformance," explained Rep. Shupe. "However, we must also consider the students currently enrolled in these schools. They may have one, two, or more years left in their academic journey. The short-term plan is tailored to provide them with immediate assistance to enhance their proficiency while the school’s underlying structural issues are being resolved.” The bill stipulates that the district superintendent must present the short-term and long-term plans for approval at a school board meeting. Furthermore, the superintendent is required to provide annual updates on the plans’ implementation, including any proposed changes. These plans must be easily accessible on both the school's and Department of Education's websites. “A big part of this bill is making sure that parents are informed and involved in these plans,” Rep. Shupe said. “That‘s a cornerstone to turning these schools around—to ensure transparency, accountability, parental involvement, and that students and families are heard through this process.” Supporters of the measure note that there are 17 Delaware public schools where over 90% of their students either do not read and write or do not perform math at grade level. “This is a statewide problem, from Claymont to Delmar,” said Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, the prime Senate sponsor of the legislation. “It cuts across geographic, demographic, and political boundaries. It’s intolerable that any school would have a grade-level cohort where nearly all the students do not meet basic academic standards. We're setting these kids up to further failure if we don’t get them the help they need. Frankly, I’m shocked we must enact legislation to address such blatant shortcomings.” The bill has already unanimously passed the House of Representatives and has been released from the Senate Education Committee. It is on the Ready List and is eligible for consideration on the Senate floor. “I am going to urge the Senate leadership to add this bill to the agenda as soon as possible so we can hopefully approve it and send it to the governor for his signature,” Sen. Pettyjohn said. ###

A bill awaiting consideration in the House of Representatives could collectively save Delaware taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually. House Bill 296, sponsored by State Rep. Bryan Shupe (R-Milford South), would allow school district and charter school officials to decide whether to pay ‘prevailing wage’ rates for school construction projects. The prevailing wage is the state-mandated minimum wage paid to workers employed on any project where state funds are used. The Delaware Department of Labor sets the rates annually based on a survey of employers. The rates vary by occupation, type of project, and the county where the work is being performed. However, Delaware’s methods for setting this wage scale have long been criticized for being flawed and inaccurate, producing results far exceeding market conditions. “The prevailing wage mandate inflates the bottom line of any project using state money by at least 15% to 20%,” Rep. Shupe said. “The result is roads and schools that cost much more than they should, leaving taxpayers to dig deeper into their pockets.” In The First State, school construction costs are split between the state and local school districts, typically 70% to 30%, respectively. The prevailing wage rate applies to the entire project because of the inclusion of state money. Comparing Delaware’s prevailing wage rates to federal wage statistics reveals the gaps between the state-mandated pay scales and the rates paid in the market. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, 90% of the people employed in the following occupations made at or below the indicated hourly rates in Delaware in 2022 (most recent data available): • carpenters $36.71 • construction laborers $28.15 • electricians $45.60 • plumbers and pipefitters $46.38 By contrast, Delaware’s current (2023) hourly prevailing wage rates for these occupations working on building projects are the following: • carpenters $47.80 to $59.56 (varies by county) • construction laborers $53.65 • electricians $79.17 • plumbers and pipefitters $68.46 to $77.38 (varies by county)

Video Update:  APRIL 4, 2024

State Rep. Bryan Shupe Sponsors Bill Seeking to

Slash Taxpayer Costs of Building New Schools

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