The Wilmington Learning Collaborative seems to have more focus and direction, with a timeline and five-phase approach to its 2023-2024 planning year unveiled this week.
The collaborative’s Tuesday night meeting was the first led by its newly hired executive director, Laura Burgos.
The collaborative is a state agency created in November 2022 to improve the educational and societal outcomes for children in nine city elementary schools across Brandywine, Red Clay and Christina school districts.
By giving families a voice in policy making, it hopes to empower city residents and combat challenges like low test scores and graduation rates and high absenteeism, as well as improving other achievement metrics.
The collaborative also hopes to connect families with social services to address issues such as homelessness, poverty and hunger that can affect education.
The agency has $10 million to spend courtesy of the state budget.
Here’s the timeline of the planning year, as discussed in Tuesday’s meeting:
- Program budget
- Contracts with partners
Both the operational budget and budget for school programs are expected to be voted on and approved in the council’s Oct. 17 meeting.
Burgos said that gives the council time to further assess the needs of schools and be accurate in creating programs that will work.
“This cannot be guesswork,” Burgos said. “We need to be fiscally responsible and anticipate what we’re going to need throughout the year.”
Both groups will help with project management.
DSU is expected to focus on four main areas: project design, strategic advising, technical assistance and implementation.
Empower Schools, which has worked in 10 different states, is expected to help with governance systems, landscape analysis, liaison development, board support and more.
“Both have been here since the onset of this journey,” Burgos said. “I want to be very clear around creating a scope of work for our partnership for the remainder of this academic year.”
The last key element of October is recruitment of four essential roles: a senior administrative assistant, a director of operations, a director of educator pathways and a director of instructional infrastructure.
Burgos also said she wants to begin the process of conducting a landscape analysis for all nine schools, which will outline the strengths, resources and needs of each.
“We need some shared understanding, a common knowledge and a common barometer, as far as where we are in certain areas and where we need to go and how we’re going to get there.”
- Landscape analysis concludes
- Onboarding of the new hires
- Professional development plan based off landscape analysis
- Launch of WLC website
“The landscape analysis and the findings and recommendations should inform a professional development plan,” Burgos said. “What will spring, summer and fall look like? What are those core needs? What is the landscape analysis charging us to do and how are we going to align across the nine schools?”
The learning collaborative plans to ramp up its online presence, including establishing social media pages and a one-stop-shop website for all things related to the agency.
“This could be the WLC hub where everything lives,” Burgos said. “What our schools are up to, the profiles of our schools, how to get in touch, how to be a part of the work. This is going to be a very interactive website.”
- Resource allocations for the 2024-2025 school year
“We should already be ahead of the game and know how we’re going to allocate our resources for the next fiscal year,” Burgos said. “We should not be where we are right now, trying to figure out how we’re going to invest our resources for the rest of the year. We should have already made those decisions with school leaders and district teams.”
- Plan implementation
- Rollout of WLC school performance framework
“This is going to be an extension of the current Delaware framework with a few more metrics that we really want to hone in on for our schools,” Burgos said, “and again, this will be determined in collaboration with our schools.”
To watch the Wilmington Learning Collaborative’s next meeting Oct. 18, click here.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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