DSBA’s Comments to the Joint Finance Committee Regarding the Governor’s Recommended Budget for FY-20

Joint Chairs and Committee Members, thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today as you continue the arduous task of marking-up the Governor’s Recommended Budget. My name is John Marinucci, I am the Executive Director of the Delaware School Boards Association (DSBA). We are a public education advocacy organization that represents the interests of school boards of 15 of the 19 Delaware traditional public-school districts as well as the State Board of Education.

Today I want to call your attention to an alarming trend in public education funding in Delaware. In FY-07, the ratio of education funding in Delaware was 64% State Funds, 28% Local Funds and 8% Federal Funds. Compare the FY-07 funding ratios to FY-17 in which State Funding represented 59% and Local funding increased to 33%, Federal funding remained consistent at 8%. To be clear – a full 5% of the total education funding responsibility has shifted over the ten-year period from the State’s budget to local school district property taxes.

The State of Delaware has increased funding to public education over the ten-year period by approximately $350 Million, however, the local property tax burden over the same ten-year period has been forced to be increased by over $309 Million, which proportionally, represents about twice the increase as state funds. Because local property taxes are not equalized, the shifting of education funding from State funds to local school districts’ property taxes furthers education funding inequities and put school districts and their boards in untenable positions.

The Governor’s Recommended Budget represents specific, targeted funding which will certainly help districts’ serve the intended student groups. The DSBA applauds the Governor and his staff for their recognition of the need for this targeted additional funding, and we urge that the flexibility inherent in the Governor’s Recommended Budget be maintained in order that districts can best use the funds to serve the intended students. We respectfully request the Joint Finance Committee’s assistance in reversing this trend of shifting the education funding responsibility from the State to un-equalized local property tax burdens, by fully funding the items requested in the October 29, 2018 correspondence from the Chief School Officers, DSBA, DASA and DSEA, to include the epilogue language changes requested.

Thank you for all that you do on behalf of the citizens of Delaware – especially our most important and precious citizens – our children.

Respectfully,

John W. Marinucci, Ed.D
Executive Director, DSBA