The board chair of Newark Charter joined a few other charter leaders to voice their support for Senate Bill 311.

Charter leaders happy with flexibility new legislation could give 

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

The board chair of Newark Charter joined a few other charter leaders to voice their support for Senate Bill 311.

The board chair of Newark Charter joined a few other charter leaders to voice their support for Senate Bill 311.

Several leaders from charter schools spoke at the state’s legislative hall in support of a bill that allows them flexibility in hiring.

Senate Bill 311, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Sokola, D-Newark, provides the ability for charter schools to hire the administrators that they deem beneficial to the success of the school’s education program and the needs of students and staff. 

The bill, which was introduced to the Senate Education Committee Wednesday, clarifies that all instructional administrators at charter schools must be licensed and certified as administrators while non-instructional administrators do not. 

James DeChene, chair of the board of directors of Newark Charter School, said the bill is very timely for his charter. 

“I have a CFO [chief financial officer] who’s going to be retiring in the next few years…and we want the best possible person to fill that position, which is a CFO,” he said, “not necessarily somebody that has an education licensure or background in order to fill that position.”

Scott Kidner, president of First State Military Academy’s board, agreed that there are some leadership positions that are needed for the success of the school, but are not necessarily aligned to standard education backgrounds or certifications. 

“We have a rather unique position as a Military Academy, and we may indeed want to seek a school leader that has a military background but does not have an educational background,” he said, “and that might be just the right person for us. This type of legislation, of course, preserves our ability to do that.”

Per the legislation, an instructional administrator is a “charter school administrator who supervises and evaluates educators, instructs students by means of designing and implementing curriculum or who instructs, trains, mentors or coaches teachers.

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Non-instructional administrators are defined as a “charter school administrator whose role is to oversee and manage operational aspects of the school that focus on supporting the logistical and functional aspects of the school environment, and ensure that essential services and resources are effectively coordinated and utilized. A non-instructional administrator’s responsibilities may include finance, transportation, nutrition, facilities management, safety and security, human resources, and technology infrastructure.”

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Under SB 311,  charter schools would be allowed to request permission from the charter authorizer to hire an additional unlicensed and uncertified administrator. 

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Kendall Massett and Britney Mumford, executive directors of the Delaware Charter Schools Network and DelawareCAN, respectively, liked the bill and cited the flexibility and self-governance it allows charter schools. 

Leaders from First State Montessori in Wilmington, Sussex Montessori School in Seaford and Las Américas ASPIRA Academy in Newark all testified their support for the bill. 

Senate committees do not vote publicly on bills, but rather sign the back of the bill with their vote after the meeting, which usually is posted within a few hours on the General Assembly website on the bill tracker.

If released by the education committee, SB 311 will head to the full Senate floor before making its way to the House. 

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