Gov. John Carney, Education Secretary Mark Holodick, and Chief Equity Officer James Simmons published a joint letter to outline the key points of the Wilmington Learning Collaborative (Unsplash)

State Ed. officials plug Wilmington Learning Collaborative agreement

Jarek RutzDelaware Live, Education, Headlines

Gov. John Carney, Education Secretary Mark Holodick, and Chief Equity Officer James Simmons published a joint letter to outline the key points of the Wilmington Learning Collaborative (Unsplash)

Gov. John Carney, Education Secretary Mark Holodick, and Chief Equity Officer James Simmons             published a joint letter to outline the key points of the Wilmington Learning Collaborative. (Unsplash)

The Wilmington Learning Collaborative will hold its second community meeting since it released its draft agreement on on Tuesday, June 21.

The event will be at Warner Elementary School in Wilmington from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

It’s billed as an opportunity for people to learn more about the agreement that will guide the efforts of the state and the Brandywine, Christina and Red Clay school districts to beef up learning at the Wilmington schools in those districts.

Along with a copy of the 16-page draft agreement, Gov. John Carney, Education Secretary Mark Holodick, and Chief Equity Officer James Simmons published a joint letter with Brandywine, Christina and Red Clay’s school boards. 

The introduction outlines what the three officials hope to achieve with the partnership when it begins in September 2023.

“Our goal has been to develop a framework to facilitate school-level decision-making, community empowerment and governance, and a hyper-focus on the needs of city students, educators, and families,” the letter said.

Their letter to the three school boards outlined the 13 key points of the collaborative:

Building-based flexibility and autonomy

The state and school boards will allow city schools to have the power to make building-level decisions.

Furthermore, city schools should be flexible enough to change policies in order to accommodate the needs of their students, families and staff.

Shared decision-making

Educator Leader Teams will be established in collaborative schools to empower educators to have an active voice in the administration’s key decision-making. 

The goal is to incorporate more teachers into conversations because they are the ones on the front lines most aware of a student’s day-to-day needs.

Commonality and consistency 

Because the group crosses district lines, there will be a commitment to exploring new curricula that are culturally relevant to city students and can speak to the experiences of disadvantaged students exposed to a tougher world than many suburban students are.

Those in the collaborative should have consistent policies about instructional technology, evaluation metrics, joint professional learning, guidelines and more.

Community-based governance

A community-based governing board, the Wilmington Learning Collaborative Council, will be established to solely focus on implementing policies in the Collaborative’s schools. 

This team will be held accountable by the districts that make up the collaborative to make sure progress is being made. 

Every school will have a Community Council to give a voice to families, community members, educators and students at the school level.

WLC Team

Hired and supervised by the governing board, the Wilmington Learning Collaborative Team will be established to provide support to city schools and also help implement the Collaborative’s initiatives. 

They’ll be accountable to the districts for achieving results and positive outcomes.

Collaboration with institutions of higher education

The governing council, the team and districts will closely work with higher education institutions to help meet the needs of the Collaborative’s schools. 

Higher education partners’ responsibility is to provide expertise and a commitment to success for these schools. 


Schools in the Collaborative will make a commitment to staff their building at, or above, their traditional allocation.

Also, WLC schools are granted access to use any current or additional funds for hiring more staff to support instruction, mental health services and other identified needs. 

Educator recruitment and retention has been a hot topic in First State education.

“Educator and community feedback has consistently mentioned the need for additional staff, and we believe this is an important addition to schools in Wilmington,” the letter said.

District liaisons

One staff member from each district in the collaborative will be designated as a liaison between the district, the governing council and the Wilmington Learning Collaborative Team. 

Liaisons will serve a minimum of two years to assist in carrying out the goals of the Collaborative.


The Collaborative’s goals are grounded in anti-racism, equity and community.

In the letter, Carney, Holodick and Simmons wrote that they believe students, families and communities deserve a targeted support system that will help overcome institutional barriers to success.

Community schools

The Collaborative wants city schools to be more than just a place to learn — they want them to be community hubs that meet the needs of students and families.


Schools in the Collaborative will have broad flexibility on how they allocate the funds that the state provides them. 

The Fiscal Year 2023 recommended budget includes an additional $7 million for schools that join the Collaborative and $12 million for Redding Consortium recommendations, many of which align with the goals of WLC schools. 

Commitment to community engagement, planning

The Collaborative is leveraging the voices of community members, families and educators, as the groups most directly impacted by WLC policies. 

The Collaborative is also dedicated to providing forums and other events in which those three critical parties can provide feedback, recommendations and help develop the Collaborative as it moves out of its planning phase and into implementation. 

Needs assessment and community asset map

At the beginning of each planning year, the executive director of the Collaborative, the district leads, and the governing council will conduct an assessment of district and school policies implemented under the collaborative, analyzing how they impact city students and staff.

The executive director will be appointed by the governing council. 

Childcare and refreshments will be provided Tuesday.

Attendees can register here.

Jarek Rutz can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz and on LinkedIn.

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