Lt. Gov. Denn, Rep. Scott, Sen. Sokola Propose to Make Early Teacher Hiring Program Permanent

The original sponsors of Delaware’s pilot program to allow school districts to make earlier hiring offers to new teachers have introduced legislation to make the pilot program a permanent one.  The pilot program has demonstrated extraordinary success in allowing Delaware school districts to better compete with surrounding states for new teachers and adequately train those new teachers before the start of the school year.

House Bill 259 will make permanent the pilot program originally created in 2011, which required the state’s Department of Education to estimate each school district’s enrollment for the following school year in May, and guarantee state funds to each district sufficient to cover 98% of the state’s share of hiring the teachers justified by that enrollment estimate.  The pilot program was created through legislation implementing the recommendations of a task force chaired by Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn and State Senator David Sokola.

“Our task force findings were very straightforward,” said Lieutenant Governor Denn.  “The school districts told us that they were holding back on early hiring because they couldn’t risk getting less state money than they expected.  And the consequence was that they were losing teaching candidates to other states that were making firm offers earlier in the year.  Our solution was to guarantee the districts the vast majority of their money in May, and the results have been striking.”

The University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration, in its ninth annual Delaware Teacher and Administrator Supply and Demand Survey Analysis Report[1], quantified the change in early teacher hiring caused by the pilot program: the percentage of school district teachers who were hired after July 31st dropped from 64.3% in the 2010-2011 school year, to 48.6% in 2011-2012 and 46.5% in 2012-2013.  Delaware Teacher and Administrator Supply and Demand Survey Analysis Report, June 2013, at p. 12.   This significant drop in the percentage of late-hired teachers was directly attributed by the University of Delaware to the pilot early teacher hiring program:

 What has led to the reduction in later teacher hiring in Delaware?  The most obvious answer is Senate Bill 164 with House Amendment 1, the extension of SB 16.  SB 16 requires that projections of enrollment be made by April 15 and that the State will guarantee that school districts receive funds equivalent to 98 percent of these projections.  This bill was aimed at decreasing late teacher hiring, and it appears to have had the desired effect.  

(Delaware Teacher and Administrator Supply and Demand Survey Analysis Report at p. 50). 

State Representative Darryl Scott, prime sponsor of House Bill 259 and one of the original sponsors of the 2011 pilot program, said, “Our goal is to hire the very best teachers and have them prepared to start the first day of school. Early unit counts have proven to be an effective tool for our school districts in accomplishing this goal and removing the sunset provision keeps this tool available to our school districts." 

Senator Sokola, the Senate sponsor of House Bill 259 and the original sponsor Senate Bill 16, added, “In my work, I understand the importance of testing and validating data.  I’m pleased that the data have validated this experiment in giving our schools more flexibility in hiring top-quality teachers and that we’re making it permanent.”  

Other original sponsors of Senate Bill 16 who are co-sponsoring the legislation making it permanent are Representative Debra Heffernan and Representative Earl Jaques.

[1] The report can be found on-line at http://www.ipa.udel.edu/publications/teacher_supply13.pdf