Note: This page is part of the Governor's News Archive, which holds press releases from January 2009 through September 2011. Since October 2011, recent news can be found in the Newsroom and archived news is available at news.delaware.gov.
April 13, 2011
Governor Markell Signs S.B. 16 Into Law; Bill Encourages School Districts To Make Earlier Employment Offers To New Teachers
NEWARK – To help school districts across Delaware make earlier job offers to hire top new teaching talent, Governor Jack Markell signed Senate Bill 16 into law today at a teacher hiring fair at the University of Delaware.
Future educators and their potential employers celebrated the signing with Lt. Governor Matt Denn, Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery, bill sponsors Senator David Sokola and Representatives Earle Jacques and Debra Heffernan and leaders of a legislative task force created to address this need were on hand for the signing. Nancy W. Brickhouse, Interim Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Delaware, welcomed them to campus.
“For too long, future teachers who wanted to make the First State their first choice to make a difference in a public school had to wait until two or more states made them an offer. This new law gives our schools the chance to move more quickly to get the best available talent,” Markell said. “Someone who worked hard to succeed in college should have the chance to put their time and talent to work in our schools to help them learn to think, work and succeed.”
Previously, districts were not guaranteed their full share of state funding for teacher salaries until the official September 30th student count was issued by the state. That meant most new Delaware teachers received job offers in the late summer and early fall, after other states and other districts had made offers. That could and did result in late hiring which caused Delaware to lose talent to other states and made some teachers have to enter a classroom with limited notice or time to prepare their year of lessons.
“Being here, at a well-attended a teacher fair, is an indication that we have qualified men and women who are excited to teach our children,” said Denn. “Senate Bill 16 lets our school districts get them signed up and get them in our classrooms. I am thankful for the work of the Task Force, some of whom are here today, for their hard work on this important legislation.”
Senate Bill 16 was the direct result of the Teacher Hiring Task Force created in 2010 by Sokola and Denn in 2010. In addition to Sokola, Jacques and Heffernan, S.B. 16 was sponsored by Representatives Darryl Scott and Terry Schooley, whose district includes the University of Delaware community.
“Delaware has so many reasons to be proud of the hard work done by our teachers in our state’s public schools. This legislation means our districts will be able to recruit and retain top teaching talent into our public schools much earlier in the process. It gives them the chance to make clear to the great teachers of tomorrow that our schools are as committed to them as those teachers will be to their students,” said Sokola, who chairs the Senate Education Committee.
S.B. 16 establishes an ‘estimated unit count’ for the state’s school districts in April of each school year. An estimated unit count determines how many students will be in each district and how many teachers will be needed for the following year. School districts will then be guaranteed to receive funds for paying teachers in the following school year that are equal to 98% of the funds justified by the estimated unit count. This estimated unit count will allow school districts to have greater confidence in the amount of state funding that they will receive to pay new teachers, and therefore extend earlier hiring offers.
"This gives our districts more flexibility and makes it easier for them to secure great teachers earlier," said Secretary of Education Lillian M. Lowery, who joined Markell for the signing.
“School boards and administrators all recognize the advantages of a teacher hiring process that begins earlier in the calendar year,” said Jack Buckley, President of Red Clay School Board and also a Task Force member. “S.B. 16 offers some protection to districts that might have an unanticipated drop in enrollment and, just as importantly, it creates the expectation that Delaware school districts will develop strategies locally to recruit and place teachers by early summer. I'm most hopeful that results will prove the effectiveness of this legislation.”
The University of Delaware was a proud host of the bill signing.
"This bill not only provides financial support for districts to hire teachers during a timeframe that facilitates their hiring the best teachers, it also sends the message that hiring well-prepared teachers is of critical significance to the goal of dramatically improving student learning in Delaware schools. New standards, longitudinal data systems, data coaches, new assessments - all of these initiatives rely on strong implementation by capable and wise teachers," said Brickhouse.
The University of Delaware’s Jeff Raffel, who studies teacher hiring in Delaware and advised the task force, added, “I am delighted that the applied research and public service work conducted in the Institute for Public Administration and the School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware laid the foundation for the Teacher Hiring Task Force's report and this reform legislation. For almost a decade, our DOE-funded survey of personnel directors has documented the hiring of a majority of Delaware's new teachers in August or later. This late hiring has restricted the pool of available candidates, led to too many teachers starting their positions after their school or district orientation--pressing to set up their classrooms for the start of school, and sent a negative message to teachers about their value to society. The passage of this legislation should put Delaware's school districts in a more competitive situation to hire the best teachers in the nation. Our children deserve nothing less.