Education Secretary Dr. Lillian Lowery told state budget planners the department needs $9.9 million more than it recieved for this year.


BUDGET BREAKDOWN: A closer look at the Department of Education fiscal year 2012 budget request

$1,109,696,500

WHAT IT IS The amount of state General Fund money Secretary of Education Dr. Lillian Lowery asked state budget development staff to consider including in Gov. Jack Markell’s recommended spending plan for next fiscal year. The governor’s budget will likely be released in January.

WHAT IT WAS LAST YEAR $1.099 billion (0.9% increase)

TOTAL STATE BUDGET $3.3 billion

PERCENT OF TOTAL STATE BUDGET 33%

EXPLANATION In a presentation to state budget planners last week, Secretary of Education Dr. Lillian Lowery said her department needs $9.9 million more than it got this year to pay for 100 new teachers expected to be necessary to handle a projected increase in the number of students enrolled statewide.

The additional money also would be used to pay for full-day kindergarten in the Christiana School District, and to purchase more computers so schools can implement the new Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System — the standardized test that has replaced the Delaware Student Testing Program.

Lowery said the $119 million in federal Race to the Top funds the state is slated to receive over the next four years won’t make that big a dent in the department’s funding requests. Roughly half of the money goes directly to local school districts, and Lowery said most of the remaining funds will be used by DOE to directly support the districts according to the state’s Race to the Top plan.

Just 2% of the money will stay within the department, she said, where it will be used to pay a 10-member Project Management Team, which will help verify school districts’ Race to the Top compliance.

Absent from Lowery’s budget proposal were any plans to save money by restructuring how the state funds pupil transportation.

Currently, an ad-hoc committee is working to come up with ideas to trim school bus costs. Last year, Gov. Jack Markell recommended shifting more of the transportation cost burden to local districts, but that plan was shot down by the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee.

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Email doug.denison@doverpost.com