The Redding Consortium voted to remove Christina School District from the city of Wilmington as part of its proposed redistricting plan.

Redding votes to remove Christina from Wilmington

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

The Redding Consortium voted to remove Christina School District from the city of Wilmington as part of its proposed redistricting plan.

The Redding Consortium voted to remove Christina School District from the city of Wilmington as part of its proposed redistricting plan.

The members of the Redding Consortium for Educational Equity voted Thursday night to remove the Christina School District from the city of Wilmington in a redistricting plan.

Those for the move said that removing Christina’s three schools inside the city that don’t connect to the rest of the district will allow the consortium to better focus its efforts on the needs of city students and families.

Map of Christina School District.

Map of Christina School District.

Those opposing the move said the plan didn’t have enough details to support the vote, that it would mean teachers and families had to deal with a long period of uncertainty about schools and that would not help with teacher shortages.

Even with the yes vote, there’s a period of more than a year for the Redding Consortium to hold town halls, engage with stakeholders, and receive feedback that could spark changes. 

The group must present a final redistricting plan to the State Board of Education by October 2025. 

After that, it could take around three to five years to implement the plan, meaning the dust could be settled around the turn of the decade. 

Wilmington now has schools in its city limits that are overseen by three different school districts, and some children are bussed out of the system to Colonial District schools.

The city’s schools and students were split up as part of a desegregation plan in the late 1970s.

The final vote to dump Christina was 18 yes, two no and two abstentions.

Christina’s superintendent Dan Shelton abstained from the vote after giving the Redding members feedback from the district’s board of education.

RELATED: Redding plan could remove Christina, Colonial schools from Wilmington

Danya Woods, education professional at Shortlidge Elementary School in Red Clay abstained, as did Red Clay Superintendent Dorrell Green. 

Tika Hartsock, a parent in the Brandywine School District, voted “no” along with Stephanie Ingram, president of the Delaware State Education Association, the largest teacher’s union in Delaware.

The three other district superintendents in the consortium – Brandywine’s Lincoln Hohler, Colonial’s Jeff Menzer and New Castle County Vo-tech’s Joseph Jones –  all voted “yes” to remove Christina from the city. 

The 15 other voting members joined them with their vote to make the removal – which has been discussed for months now without a vote – part of the official plan.

The Redding Consortium was created in 2019 to recommend policies and practices to the governor and legislators to improve education equity and outcomes in the city of Wilmington and Northern New Castle County.

The consortium defines educational equity as something that “requires safe, secure and student-focused learning environments where every student is intentionally provided access to the support, resources, and opportunities they need to reach their full academic and social potential, in and out of the classroom.”

Interim plan

This interim redistricting plan was proposed by Redding members Rep. Nnamdi Chukwuocha, D-Wilmington and City Councilman Jea Street.

Shelton said he doesn’t want to be misconstrued and said Christina is deeply invested in its city schools and city students and their outcomes.

“We want to be a part of the solution, and we don’t want to stand in the way of any solutions and we want to make sure we’re providing for our schools and for our students in whatever direction we end up going,” he said. 

Shelton said he told the Christina school board the plan was just the beginning of a long process that the state board must approve before it’s implemented. 

Still, he came to the Redding Consortium meeting with comments from Christina’s board members:  

  • “It’s important that the plan recognizes staff uncertainty and the effects of the school environment that the uncertainty can cause.”
  • “The plan is currently not clear enough” and members were uncomfortable to take a position with so few details. 
  • “Moving kids from one school to another or changing the name of the school will not change outcomes without changes to the systems and support and the challenges we’re facing with staffing in our buildings.”
  • “The plan in its current form does not address the root causes of the problems our students are faced with like climate issues in our school, addressing the need for high-quality teachers in our schools and the need for incentives for highly-qualified teachers and staff that want to be part of our city schools.”

The consortium members agreed that having the pulse of city residents before making a decision is crucial. 

Ingram said concerns about the plan give her heartburn. 

She said she has a hard time saying “yes” to a plan that would seemingly leave the Christina district and its community in limbo.

It’s also unclear if Christina would get booted from the Wilmington Learning Collaborative, since that group is a partnership of Christina, Brandywine and Red Clay to focus on improving outcomes for nine city of Wilmington elementary schools. 

“It’s the not-knowing that gives them stress and provides a challenge,” Ingram said. 

It’s hard on educators who might not know what district or school they’re going to be teaching in year-to-year, and won’t help with teacher shortages, she said.

Ingram said she would rather the triangle be flipped upside down, and all the details are ironed out before the district is kicked out of Wilmington. 

Chukwuocha disagreed. 

It’s intentional that the first step is establishing Christina’s exit from Wilmington, and then ironing out the consequent details. 

“If we tried to flip it, as has been suggested, then that leads us to the position where we have to answer the other questions first, instead of second,” he said. “Then where children are going becomes the first step. We’re not there, and our first step is to say this noncontiguous district… is the immediate concern.”

Kevin Kelley, chair of the Wilmington Community Advisory Council, said this decision to remove Christina from the city bounds of Wilmington “is not personal, it’s business.”

“That’s really what this is about, and trying to make sure that another generation doesn’t have to go through what the other generations did,” he said.

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