Gov. vetoes bill that bars Wilmington students from expanded Newark Charter boundary

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Gov. John Carney on Thursday vetoed House Substitute 1 for House Bill 85, legislation that would remove the five-mile radius as an enrollment preference for Delaware charter schools.

The bill caused an outcry since it was aimed at the Newark Charter School, which has the five-mile limit. The bill excluded students from Wilmington while opening up opportunities for suburbanites.

The billwould open up the process to students from “contiguous areas,” while barring students from Wilmington. Critics saw the legislation as a back-door attempt to resegregate schools. Legislators denied the charge, but still face unhappy constituents living in Bear and other areas outside the five-mile zone, who also feel the current boundaries are unfair.

The Newark Charter School has a waiting list, even with the five-mile requirement, which does include low and moderate income neighborhoods in the Newark area.

The following is a portion of Carney’s statement.

“Educating our children is both a moral and an economic imperative, and the achievement gap in the State of Delaware is a problem that cannot be ignored. At-risk students across our state, but especially in the City of Wilmington, are not getting the education that they deserve. I believe that the sponsors of HS 1 for HB 85 wanted to expand options for students and increase diversity at Delaware charter schools by eliminating the five-mile radius as an enrollment preference. These are goals that I share.

Despite those efforts, this legislation unfairly excludes some of our most vulnerable students. It does not simply remove the five-mile radius preference. The legislation creates a new standard that uniquely limits options for at-risk students in the Christina School District portion of the City of Wilmington – many of the kids who need our help the most – and that is something I cannot support.”

Read Governor Carney’s full veto statement here.

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