Rural Delaware schools are under-funded, under-researched, and under-resourced. With your support, we can ensure greater equity in education for our Sussex County students.

Rural Delaware schools are underfunded

The lack of an equitable funding system directly affects students. 

Delaware lags behind neighboring states in education funding, especially for English-Language Learners and students from low-income households. According to Education Equity Delaware, the disparity in additional per-pupil funding in Delaware compared to what students receive in surrounding states is staggering.

Additionally, public charter school funding in Delaware is significantly less than that of traditional public schools. The average per-student funding for Delaware public charter schools hovers closely to the bottom at $12,727. The average dollars allocated per student for all Delaware public schools is $15,329. This disparity is even more striking when considering how Delaware schools receive funding.

Traditional school districts serving high school students receive funding through three primary means: federal, state, and local funding collected through property taxes. While funding gaps are a problem throughout Delaware, variability from one school district to another is particularly dramatic in Sussex County. For example, Laurel School District reports a per-student expenditure of almost $13,000 per student, while the Cape Henlopen School District invests more than $20,000 per student. 

The implications could not be more striking. Current variability in funding, combined with the fact that public charter schools receive funding at a rate well under the state average, means that significant additional investment for the future of our students is a critical and immediate need. 

School YearProjected EnrollmentAverage Per Pupil Funding Gap = $997
Total Multi-Year Need$1,620,125

The Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence (BASSE) projects state and local funding of $8,506 per pupil (on average) for its first five years. 

  • To equal the funding of the average Delaware public charter school, BASSE requires an additional $4,221 per student. 
  • To equal the funding of the average Delaware public school district, BASSE requires an additional $6,823 per student.

Rural Delaware schools are under-researched

A lack of research focused on rural education impacts students.

Though nearly 1 in 5 students in the United States attends a rural school, the education policy space often ignores them. Nationally, rural education needs more attention, especially in three areas. 

  1. Funding gaps for schools (gaps have widened recently in some states)
  2. Access to coursework that adequately prepares rural students for postsecondary experiences
  3. Meeting the needs of diverse populations located in rural school districts

According to the Why Rural Matters report (2019), rural schools are “still not getting the attention they deserve.” This report is one of only a handful recently published about rural education in the United States.

Rural Delaware schools are under-resourced

Delaware’s rural schools lack access to resources to support students 

Recent studies indicate that Delaware public high schools are not adequately preparing students for post-secondary opportunities. Approximately half of Delaware’s 11th-grade students fail to meet state and national College and Career Readiness requirements. Even more troubling, only 34% of low-income students are proficient in reading and writing compared to 53% of Delaware students.

The challenges facing students in rural Sussex County are especially acute. Nearly two-thirds of the districts here perform below the state average in College and Career Readiness measures. 

These same districts are also home to some of the largest populations of students from low-income households, students with disabilities, English-Language Learners, and students of color. Although Sussex County contains some of the country’s most diverse rural school districts, the state has still not closed the gaps in the educational outcomes of its rural students.

Support equity in education

BASSE wants all our students to have equitable access to everything that an excellent education entails. We must close the funding gaps that may exist for many of our students due to the school districts they come from and the additional resources they may need. 

  • Research clearly shows that students facing barriers—such as English-Language Learners or students from low-income households—need funding in addition to their per-pupil dollar allocation. These students often need more resources than the average per-pupil dollar allocation can provide.
  • Unlike other states, Delaware does not provide additional sustainable funding for English-language learners or additional dedicated funding for low-income students. There is a statewide gap for both traditional public schools and public charter schools.