The Brandywine School District followed the leader and voted unanimously Monday night to join the Wilmington Learning Collaborative.
The vote follows the Christina School District’s unanimous vote last week.
Next up, and last to vote, will be the Red Clay Consolidated School District when it meets Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. That meeting can be livestreamed here.
The Brandywine vote came two hours into its monthly meeting, when the board approved a motion to sign the 20-page and final draft agreement.
The vote came after the majority of the 8-seat board for months cited concerns that only one-third of the district’s Wilmington elementary students would be involved in the program.
The Collaborative is designed to help elementary and middle school students close the learning gap with suburban schools by adopting more practices that teachers say work, as well as providing the students and their families with social services and mental health support.
Harlan Elementary is the only Brandywine school in the Learning Collab since it is within the city’s limits. Two-thirds of the district’s elementary students who live in Wilmington attend schools in the suburbs, such as Carrcroft or Hanby.
Board president John Skrobot, among others, said the $7 million in the state budget that’s allocated towards the Learning Collab isn’t enough.
“We’re replacing bureaucracy with more bureaucracy,” he said.
Even so, he voted to join, saying that this is a community effort and every single person who he’s spoken to about the collaborative, as well as every public comment, has been in support.
“These are aggressive goals which I hope we all achieve, but I’m concerned that the amount of money being allocated won’t allow us to meet those goals,” said board member Jason Heller.
He said that the city children that go to Brandywine’s suburban elementary schools shouldn’t be left out of support and resources because “they live on the wrong side of an imaginary line.”
But he voted yes, saying he was happy to initiate change.
“There’s still work to do I believe but I think we do have to do something,” he said. “The kids deserve it, and I think we have an opportunity right now to actually move in the right direction.”
Board member Shanika Perry said there’s infinite potential when three districts and three boards come together with laser-sharp focus on one goal.
“If given the laser-like attention, the authority, human capital and financial resources, we can expand our capacity to serve underserved students, offer equitable programming to all students who live in the city, partner with key community groups and organizations, and coordinate care with wraparound services,” she said.
She quoted author Jim Collins, saying “good is the enemy of greatness,” and explained how she thinks Delaware schools are good but the state and its schools are complacent with settling for good.
“I’m accepting the challenge to roll up my sleeves and do the hard work on the front end so that we can make sure that our students achieve an optimal academic environment,” she said, “and I challenge everyone here today to do the same.”
Gov. John Carney thanked the board and said its concerns are legitimate and something that will be worked through with the great leadership of the three districts.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way that you voted yes,” he told the board. “Your reservations means you’ve read through the MOU, you understand the points of tension, you understand the things that we have to deliver. I make my commitment to deliver.”
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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