During its regular monthly meeting the Capital School District Board of Education moved to accept a no-cost Race to the Top extension, followed by a vote to maintain specific Race to the Top-funded positions.

During its regular monthly meeting the Capital School District Board of Education moved to accept a no-cost Race to the Top extension, followed by a vote to maintain specific Race to the Top-funded positions.



Race to the Top, a federal program that awarded funding to Delaware school districts over the last four years, was set to end on June 30 of this year, but the state Department of Education recently offered a no-cost extension that would allow excess Race to the Top funds to be distributed to the districts that request them.

“Some of the money came from districts that may not have participated in Race to the Top, like the Christiana School District,” said Capital School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas.

The board unanimously voted to request the funding, and Capital will receive a minimum of $341,825, according to Kent Hutchins, the district’s Race to the Top coordinator.

That money would be used to fund eight programs the district currently has in place, Hutchins said. Uses would range from funding Common Core teacher training to paying for community and family engagement programs.



During the Board of Education’s March meeting, board members discussed the feasibility of retaining seven positions that were funded by Race to the Top. The matter was previously tabled so that members could acquire more information about the positions and data that showed what impact those jobs had on students.

The no-cost extension the board approved on Wednesday would not be used to fund these positions, said Sandra Spangler, assistant superintendent of academic services.  

Of the seven positions up for vote, the board only approved keeping one − a math interventionist that would serve all of the district’s elementary schools.

Board members Kay Dietz-Sass, Phillip Martino, Jr. and Sean P. M. Christiansen voted to keep the position, while Matthew Lindell and Brian Lewis voted against it.

The positions that were cut included three math interventionists − one from William Henry Middle School, Central Middle School and Dover High School; a ninth-grade behavior specialist at Dover High; a data coordinator and a parent/mentor engagement coordinator.

Race to the Top staff members are on temporary contracts, which will end at the same time the funding does, said Director of Human Resources Dave Vaughn said at last month’s meeting.

“They [will] receive a letter telling them that they were on a temporary contract and their services are no longer needed,” Vaughn said.




In November the board revised its Component Five policy, Component Five is one of the tools used to measure teacher effectiveness based on how a teacher’s students fare on state testing, the revision of the policy stated that the board instructed that all administrators change all unsatisfactory ratings given to teachers and administrators to satisfactory ratings, until the Department of Education addressed concerns that the district had with Component Five, such as the time consuming nature of the exercise, but recently the board was informed that their policy was not in agreement with Delaware code.

Under Delaware code if a teacher’s unsatisfactory rating can only be changed to a satisfactory if the teacher meets 35 to 49 percent of their goals for student growth in state test scores.

The board unanimously voted to revise the policy to give administrators the power to change unsatisfactory ratings for those who had achieved the 35 to 49 percent growth targets in order to come into compliance with Delaware law.

Board president Matthew Lindell also made the suggestion that the board add a revision to aid teachers that fall below that 35 percent growth mark.

“I’d like to add that any potential future termination of an individual that fails to meet that 35 percent or over that we would look at other factors when we look at those individuals,” Lindell said.

Less than 100 teachers across the state achieved below 35 percent growth last year, according to Christopher Ruszkowsi, chief officer of the teacher and leader effectiveness unit at the Department of Education. The board passed the revisions with Lindell’s recommendation included.