Analysis: Shelton named superintendent of a troubled Christina School District


Dan Shelton was approved Thursday at a Christina School District’s Board of Education meeting as the next superintendent of schools.

The appointment will take effect on July 1. Shelton brings more than 22 years of experience as an educator and administrator, most recently as superintendent for the Capital School District in Dover since 2015.

Shelton faces a tough road ahead as the district struggles with declining enrollment and a referendum that if approved would lead to a sizable increase in property tax bills. All of this is occurring as he coronavirus pandemic moves unemployment to double-digit levels.Layoffs of staff are already planned.


The district faces a variety of challenges that include a sizable percentage of lower-income students in need of more intense instruction.

Meanwhile, the Newark Charter School continues to add to its facilities, taking students out of a relatively affluent five-mile area in the Christina District and according to some critics “skimming the cream”. of top students and motivated parents.

The Christina district itself extends from Newark along the Christina River into the City of Wilmington. The district is a creature of a desegregation order from decades ago and takes in Bear-Glasgow, Elsmere, Newark and a portion of Wilmington – all communities with little in common with one another.

Christina also struggles with a largely obsolete state school aid formula that gives a set amount for each student regardless of the amount of instruction needed for at-risk students.

A coalition of groups has filed suit claiming the formula does not provide an equal opportunity for education.

More affluent districts with more affluent families and higher-performing students are able to take the money and use it for enrichment programs in music, athletics, and other areas, while Christina struggles to maintain buildings and pay teacher salaries.

The district has coped with a revolving door of superintendents as well as long-running financial challenges as growth shifted to the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area, which will soon have three new high schools.

The Capital School District has faced some of the same challenges with growth in the area of Dover coming in the nearby Caesar Rodney district.

His selection as superintendent comes after a search following the announcement that Richard Gregg would retire at the end of the current school year. Gregg has served as superintendent since 2017.

“Dr. Shelton is an ideal choice. We are fortunate to have such an experienced candidate lead our team,” said Dr. Meredith Griffin, president of the Board of Education. “His enthusiasm and emphasis on student success, building strong community relationships and responsible financial management, fit perfectly with what we hope to accomplish for the future of our district.”

Shelton, who grew up in the Newark, Delaware area, and has a family history with Christina. His parents and grandfather, all graduated from Newark High School. His children currently attend Maclary Elementary School in Newark.

“I am so excited to be coming home to the Christina School District,” said Shelton. “There is a tremendous amount of work to be done to retain, rebuild and restore Christina School District. I look forward to reconnecting with colleagues I have worked with before and building a leadership team that will help guide our students and staff in making Christina a destination district.”

Shelton has held many leadership roles within Christina. Early in his career, he worked as an educator in Christina city schools at Drew-Pyle and Bayard. Later, he served as school leader at Gallaher, Maclary, Christina Early Education Center, Smith, and Kirk.

Shelton has earned several degrees from the University of Delaware, including Bachelor of Science, Masters of Education, and Doctor of Education.

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