Lt. Governor to Visit Rehoboth and Milton Elementary Schools

DOVER, Del. – On Wednesday, April 2, Lt. Governor Denn will celebrate wonderful achievements at Rehoboth and Milton Elementary Schools. Cape Henlopen School District received $57,623.20 through the Accelerated Academic Education Grants that were given late last year, and the Lt. Governor will visit two of the schools that are already using the funding on programs.
The Accelerated Academic Grant program, a new state program that made funds available for programs targeted at academically advanced students, was created through legislation proposed by Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn and the chairs of the General Assembly’s education committees, allowing school districts to design programs targeted at students who are ahead of grade level in reading, writing, math, or science.

Cape Henlopen School District is implementing a progressive, rigorous approach in accelerated education through STEAM enriched instruction. The program will include 60 identified 5th grade students from four elementary schools and will inspire creativity, innovation and integrative problem solving above and beyond the curriculum. The Lt. Governor, in visiting Rehoboth and Milton Elementary Schools, will see those children and programs in action. Shields and H.O. Brittingham will also fully participate beginning this fall.

At Rehoboth Elementary, the Lt. Governor will actually start his visit celebrating with Principal Trish Mumford, staff, students, and parents that RES is a School of Continued Excellence, as recognized by the Lt. Governor and Sec. Murphy in October 2013. Lt. Governor Denn will hand out awards to staff and students, celebrating their continued success. Additionally, Rehoboth has invited all of the fourth and fifth grade students whose scores and progress as third and fourth graders earned RES the designation. The staff will each receive a small etched crystal award with “Rehoboth Elementary, DOE School of Continued Excellence 2013.” The students will each get a metal for “Academic Excellence.”

After the award ceremony, Lt. Governor Denn will visit the fifth grade STEAM groups at Rehoboth and then again at Milton Elementary School to see them in action. They use time set aside for Response to Intervention (RTI) so that they do not miss any of the core curricular instruction. At RES, the Lt. Governor will see the students discussing and creating hypothesis around pollution, paper recycling, and water filtration.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

10:30am – 12:00pm Visit to Rehoboth Elementary School
500 Stockley Street
Rehoboth Beach
Award Ceremony 10:30 – 11:15
STEAM Visit 11:15 – 12:00

1:00pm – 2:00pm Visit to Milton Elementary School
512 Federal Street
Milton


Lt. Governor, Seaford School District Announce New District-Wide Elementary School Breakfast Program

Lt. Governor, Seaford School District Announce New District-Wide Elementary School Breakfast Program

 DOVER, DE – Yesterday, Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn was joined by Seaford School District officials to announce that the Seaford School District is the first Delaware school district to join his campaign to allow students to eat breakfast in the classroom in all of its elementary schools.

National research has demonstrated that eating breakfast has a significant impact on students’ academic performance and overall well-being, and that allowing students to eat breakfast in the classroom dramatically increases the number of students who eat a nutritious breakfast.  Delaware ranks 22nd in the country with respect to the percentage of income-eligible students who eat breakfast at school.  Prior to Seaford accepting the Lieutenant Governor’s challenge, the Colonial School District was the only other school district in Delaware that offered breakfast to all of its elementary school students.

“Offering breakfast in the classroom is something that we know will help our kids, and something that we can do today,” Lieutenant Governor Denn said.   “I applaud Seaford for its effort, and I hope other districts will follow suit.  When I leave Seaford today, I’ll be driving to yet another elementary school in a nearby district to talk to its principal about following Seaford’s example.”

Lieutenant Governor Denn was joined at today’s press conference at West Seaford Elementary School by Seaford’s Interim Superintendent Kevin Carson, Nutrition Services Supervisor Patricia Cunningham, and the principals of all four Seaford elementary schools.

“At West Seaford Elementary, now that every student can eat breakfast for free, an average of 87 more students a day are eating breakfast,” said West Seaford Principal Julie Giangiulio, whose student breakfast participation has jumped from 55% to 80% in the three months since in-classroom breakfast began.  “That is 87 students that were likely going hungry before. When students are hungry they can struggle concentrating, get frequent headaches, and they can even struggle with behavior problems. Bringing free breakfast to West Seaford means our students have one less obstacle in their path toward a bright and healthy future.”

Since beginning the classroom breakfast program in January, Blades Elementary has increased its breakfast participation by 12%.  Central Elementary’s first day of offering breakfast in the classroom is today, March 19th and Frederick Douglass will follow on March 31st.

On average, Central serves 180 students a day for breakfast.  Today, the first day of their classroom breakfast program, they served 301 students, which is a jump from 38% to 64% of their students.

“There has always been tremendous disparity between the Seaford School District lunch participation and the breakfast participation,” said Nutrition Services Supervisor Patricia Cunningham.   “Obstacles, like busing and class scheduling, which were beyond the Nutrition Services Department control, prompted the department to look at alternate methods to reach the students for breakfast service.  It was also our mission to reach our students, given the fact that 74% of our students qualify for free or reduced-priced meals.”

 


DE Children’s Dept. Cuts Ribbon on Juvenile Multi-Purpose Education Facility

Wilmington – Governor Jack Markell, Secretary Jennifer Ranji of the Delaware Children’s Department, her staff, and nearly 70 other special guests braved the cold on Thursday, December 12th for a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the Department’s new Juvenile Multi-Purpose Education Facility. The nearly 14-thousand square foot state of the art building, which sits on the Agency’s administrative campus near Newport, will be the new educational home for youth who are committed to the Department’s Level IV Residential Cottages.

The Cottages are staff secure residential treatment programs designed to meet the needs of adjudicated youth and assist with their successful transition back into the community. While in the Department’s care, the Cottage youth are required to attend classes daily. Their facility where the children currently attend school is aging, has limited space, little privacy, and limited access to technology. Education staff says research shows a 5 – 17 percent difference in academic achievement outcomes for students in poorly maintained facilities.

“The work the Children’s Department is doing with the youth in their care is making a difference,” said Governor Markell. “This building will allow the quality of the environment to match the quality of the educational instruction. Students will have access to better technology and additional programming, which will lead to greater success when they return to their communities.”

The new facility is wired for 21st century technology with smart boards and a computer lab. It has additional classroom space, a dedicated library/resource room for both youth and their parents, and dedicated rooms for art and physical activity. Many students in Department custody are significantly behind in the number of credits needed to earn a diploma. The updated technology will allow students access to online programs and increase opportunities for credit recovery and acceleration, and college level coursework.

The Department’s Education Unit staff already work with the youth on providing career readiness classes, honing interviewing skills, and creating opportunities for internships before they leave Cottage care. But they hope to increase opportunities for career exploration and job skill development, by expanding existing, or developing new, partnerships with businesses and non-profits in the community that help youth develop marketable skills.

“We cannot fully address all of the challenges that these youth will face when they leave – but if we can help them to gain resiliency, better decision-making skills, and improved academic status, and show them a path forward that they did not think was possible when they arrived, we will have provided them with critical tools to help them to be successful,” said Secretary Ranji.

The Department wants the facility to be much more than just a school though. The three Residential Cottages (2 for males and 1 for females) are operated by the Department’s Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services (YRS). YRS will use existing resources to staff the new building in the evening hours so that programming such as substance abuse education and treatment, Independent Life Skills Program, Mentoring, Parenting, and Anger Management classes currently conducted at each of the Cottages can be condensed and provided in one location.

Additionally, federal grants will provide the opportunity to create an Evening Reporting program to provide an alternative pathway for youth who are non-compliant with the terms of their probation. While there, they will receive a variety of trauma informed, evidence based services, educational support and treatment. YRS also plans to implement a comprehensive gun and gang violence intervention program through a partnership with the Delaware Center for Justice.

The new $5 Million dollar facility was funded as a result of the Capital Budget process through the Building Delaware’s Future Now Funding. The building was designed in accordance with Governor Markell’s EO 18 to design new state buildings to be LEED certified. The Department is pursuing Gold level LEED certification by mid-2014. Features such as the use of recycled materials in the flooring and other building materials, low flow fixtures to save on water usage, and automatic light dimmers to reduce energy usage were selected to increase the sustainability of the facility over the long term. The architect of record for the project was Buck Simpers Architects & Associates of Wilmington, and the Contractor was Emory Hill and Company of New Castle.

Youth from the Residential Cottages will begin using their new educational facility in January to begin their new term.
The Children’s Department provides services to children who have been abused, neglected, are dependent, have mental health or substance problems, have been adjudicated delinquent by the Courts, as well as prevention services targeted toward all youth. For more information, please visit www.kids.delaware.gov.


Recipients of $2.1M in After School Prevention Funding Announced

Speakers for after school funding announcement
Speakers at the announcement of after school prevention funding recipients

Wilmington – On Monday November 25th, Governor Jack Markell, and Lt. Governor Matt Denn joined officials from the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF/The Children’s Dept.) to announce the names of 12 organizations that have been selected to receive nearly $2.1 million dollars in after school and summer prevention program funds. The announcement was held at the Clarence Fraim Boys and Girls Club in Wilmington. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware is one of the funding recipients.

The initiative to support positive prevention activities for youth was part of Governor Jack Markell’s FY 14 Budget proposal. The General Assembly supported his budget request with $2.2 million as part of DSCYF’s budget for after school programs this session. This is the second round of funding allocated under the budget initiative. In September, a small portion of the budget was distributed to 13 organizations in the form of mini grants.

Applicants for the remainder of the funding were required to submit proposals that included evidence based practices or programs related to preventing youth violence and/or youth suicide. They were also required to include positive opportunities for youth that they might not otherwise have a chance to be exposed to. The grant recipients will be funded through June 2015 subject to continued funding appropriation in the Department’s FY 15 budget

“These places will be providing children with safe and welcoming spaces to do homework, play and enjoy being a kid,” said Governor Markell. “This is about creating opportunities for young people with positive experiences and after school activities that promote their intellectual growth and self-esteem.”

“The programs that were selected are very diverse in their makeup. They cover academics, exposure to nature, music and the arts, bullying, suicide and pregnancy prevention programming, sports and athletics, healthy living, life skills, and self-esteem building,” said Lt. Governor Matt Denn who read off the list of awardees at the event. “I feel confident that the programs being offered are going to have a long term impact on the kids who participate in them.”

The selected funding recipients will enter into contracts with the children’s Department’s Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services. Three of the 12 organizations will have programs running in all three counties, four will operate only in New Castle County, three will operate programs in both Kent and Sussex Counties only, and two will conduct their programs in Kent County alone. The Criminal Justice Council is partnering with the Children’s Department to provide monitoring and quality assurance for the contracts.

Additionally, suicide prevention training will be provided to staff of all of the selected programs so that they can assist in identifying at-risk youth. The prevention program initiative is partly an outgrowth of the initial recommendations by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the 2012 adolescent suicides in Kent County which pointed to a lack of after-school activities for youth in Kent and Sussex Counties.

“We were looking for programs that would provide positive experiences for youth, while also giving them safe and productive opportunities outside of school hours,” said DSYCF Secretary Jennifer Ranji. “The programs that were selected, coupled with the training they’ll receive, help support our mission of prevention or early identification of mental health needs so that we can prevent deeper entry into our system.”

The programs that were selected to receive after school and summer prevention program funding will serve approximately 1,500-1,800 youth. Roughly half of those children are in New Castle County, 25% are in Kent County and 25% are in Sussex County. The funding recipients are:

• Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware – to implement youth leadership clubs, operate a weekday drop in teen program and a Friday night program for academics, athletics and special events.

• Children and Families First – operating in Kent and Sussex counties. Activities will include academic support, life skills like cooking and computer classes and outdoor education.

• The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension – will operate four sites in both Kent and Sussex Counties. They will provide after school tutoring, music and art enrichment and summer programming that focuses on healthy living.

• Providence Service Academy – to operate in the city of Wilmington serving youth ages 12 – 18. They’ll implement a Youth Empowerment program to provide a variety of enrichment activities.

• West End Neighborhood House – also will operate in the City. Their focus will be on youth violence and suicide prevention through the use of several evidence based programs.

• Police Athletic League – will operate in Wilmington and NcCo in four locations. Their focus is on suicide and violence prevention through parent engagement, and after school and summer programs that promote homework assistance and fitness activities.

• Courageous Hearts – this equine assistance program operates in Kent and Sussex and will serve youth ages 12 – 17. They use horses as an equine assisted intervention to help youth overcome anxieties and build self-esteem, as well as provide a mechanism for family engagement.

• DEMCO – this Kent county program will serve children in grades 5 – 8. It provides tutoring and homework support, and sports and fitness enrichment for youth in at risk communities in Downtown Dover.

• The YMCA – will operate in Wilmington, and Kent and Sussex Counties and serve children ages 11 – 18. They will provide memberships to teens and leadership camps.

• Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Delaware – operating in all three counties, this program will serve youth ages 9 – 17 and provide mentoring services for at risk youth, particularly for LGBTQ youth.

• Delaware State University – Summer Youth Academy – this program will expose youth to opportunities for secondary education and mentoring, and promote self-discipline and self-confidence.

• The Mother African Union Church’s Peter Spencer Family Foundation project – operating in the City of Wilmington this program will provide evidence based, academically focused after school programming and gender specific summer programming at two sites.

The Children’s Department provides services to children who have been abused, neglected, are dependent, have mental health or substance problems, have been adjudicated delinquent by the Courts, as well as prevention services targeted toward all youth. For more information, please visit www.kids.delaware.gov.

DSCYF Secy Ranji speaking
DSCYF Secretary Ranji speaks at announcement of after school funding recipients

Lt. Governor Matt Denn announces funding recipients
Lt. Gov. Matt Denn announces recipients of after school prevention funding


Governor Proposes Investments in Job Growth, Stronger Schools while Governing Responsibly

Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Keeps Core Commitments to Education, Public Safety and Healthcare; Lowers Current Personal Income Tax Rate

New Initiatives Focus on Expanding Services for Youth and Enhancing School Safety

DOVER – Governor Jack Markell unveiled a balanced budget proposal that invests in jobs, education and the safety and well-being of our children. His budget keeps the focus on core commitments such as healthcare and public safety and ensures continued fiscal responsibility.

“We want to make sure we are growing jobs while ensuring the safety and well-being of our children,” Governor Markell said. “This budget addresses critical needs of the world we now live in, while considering demands that will be placed on us in the years ahead.”

The Governor expanded on a series of proposals from his State of the State aimed at ensuring Delaware’s children are fully supported within their communities and exposed to positive opportunities. Specifically, he recommended $3.3 million in funding to increase the number of trained, front-line mental health personnel in our middle schools – an area currently under-resourced, with just three of Delaware’s middle schools having full-time professionals responsible for the mental health needs of students. This budget would increase that number to 30.

“I am proposing a ten-fold increase in the availability of mental health professionals who can work with our middle school children to make sure that their issues are being diagnosed and referred to proper treatment,” said Governor Markell.

An additional $2.2 million investment in statewide targeted prevention programs for youth.

“Research tells us by investing in after-school and summer programs, we can improve academic performance, reduce dropout rates, improve self-esteem and prevent risky behaviors,” Governor Markell said. “By funding these initiatives, we address a critical gap in services for children and help ensure they are given the best chance at growing up to be healthy, successful, productive adults.”

The Governor proposes an allocation of $300,000 to accelerate development of school safety plans and $530,000 to hire six Delaware State Police Troopers to fight violent crime; $515,000 to the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families to support youth aging out of foster care; and $93,000 to the Delaware National Guard for its Youth Challenge program, which helps 16-18 year old high school dropouts gain the values, life skills, education and self-discipline they need to succeed.

While the Governor’s new initiatives represent just .194% budget growth, the recommended budget furthers the Governor’s priorities of stronger schools and job growth.

The budget proposal includes significant investments in public education, including $8.7 million for 110 new teacher units in schools, $8.5 million for step increases for school employees and $1.5 million to annualize salary increases for paraprofessionals. The recommended capital budget dedicates $99.0 million for construction projects in school districts throughout the state.

“Investing in education remains a guiding principle of our budgeting strategy,” said Governor Markell. “We must continue to strengthen our schools and prepare students to be in the workforce of tomorrow.”

The Governor also highlighted efforts by State agencies to govern responsibly through efficiencies and reductions.

“As the demands on state government increase and out year revenue forecasts decrease, we must remain fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars,” said Office of Management and Budget Director Ann Visalli.

The Governor has proposed reducing personal income tax rates and other revisions to the series of revenue increases enacted in 2009 that are scheduled to sunset. These revisions are aimed at relieving the burden on small businesses and manufacturers while stabilizing the state’s revenue base for Fiscal Year 2014 and beyond.   If the current tax sunsets are allowed to take effect, the state could face a projected revenue shortfall of $266M in FY2015.  The governor’s proposal helps address that shortfall while reducing current tax rates on individuals and small businesses.

“The tax proposals are aimed at stabilizing our revenue situation this fiscal year while being mindful of the need to consider challenges we face beyond the upcoming fiscal year,” said Tom Cook, State Secretary of Finance.  “If we let taxes completely sunset, we will likely face a formidable fiscal problem in FY15.”

The specific proposals include:

  • Personal Income Tax – Already reduced in 2012, the Governor’s proposal reduces the top personal income tax rate again. In 2009, the top personal income tax marginal rate (on income above $60,000) was increased from 5.95% to 6.95%. Effective January 2012, that rate was reduced to 6.75%. The Governor proposes dropping that rate to 6.6%. (Effective January 1, 2014)
    • The proposed top rate of 6.6% is still among the most competitive in the region:
      • New Jersey = 8.97%
      • Maryland (Including counties) = 8.625%
      • Washington, DC = 8.5%
  • Gross Receipts Tax – In 2009, the gross receipts tax increased 8% across all business categories. Effective January 2012, rates were reduced by 3%, and the monthly exclusion was increased from $80,000/month to $100,000/month, removing 330 businesses from the tax rolls. The Governor proposes cutting the tax on manufacturers by 30% and dropping the gross receipts tax for all other businesses by another 1%, while maintaining the more generous $100,000 exclusion. (Effective January 1, 2014)

The Governor’s gross receipts tax package supports two of Delaware’s most critical economic drivers – small businesses and manufacturing. Compared to the original sunset proposal, small businesses fare better under the Governor’s package:

§         For example, businesses in the service sector with annual receipts under $7.6 million pay less under the Governor’s proposal; and

§         Businesses with annual receipts under $1.2 million generally pay no tax.

  • Corporate Franchise Tax – In 2009, the corporate franchise top tax rate increased from $165,000 to $180,000. The Governor proposes keeping the current tax rate in place.
  • Estate Tax – The Governor proposes lifting the sunset. Under the Governor’s proposal, farms in the Aglands Preservation program will still be excluded from the tax.  In 2011, the estate tax exemption increased from $3.5 million to $5.12 million.

The Fiscal Year 2014 Recommended Operating Budget totals $3,712.0 million. The proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Recommended Bond and Capital Improvements Act totals $423.5 million and includes $239.3 million in State agency capital projects and $184.2 million in Transportation projects. The Governor also set aside $43.0 million for Grants-in-Aid.

A power point of the proposal is available online: http://budget.delaware.gov/fy2014/budget_presentation.pdf.

A supplemental document for the Capital Budget is also available online: http://budget.delaware.gov/fy2014/capital/cap_budget_supplement.pdf