Red Clay Priority School Plans Approved By Delaware DOE

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

In a move that probably shocks no one, the Delaware Department of Education approved the Red Clay Consolidated School District’s priority school plans.  This announcement was released today by the Evil Empire, sorry, Delaware DOE.  No word from them about what in the world they are going to do about Christina School District and their three priority schools as the chess match continues.  I find this announcement very interesting in light of the Wilmington Education Committee’s recommendations that Christina and Colonial relinquish their stake in the City of Wilmington’s schools.  Here is the DOE’s own Alison May with the press release:

Red Clay Priority Schools to move forward with school plans

Red Clay Consolidated School District’s three Priority Schools will provide new student supports, add Saturday and afterschool enrichment activities for students and families, and ensure greater parental involvement under plans that are moving forward after the Delaware Department of Education today approved the district to move onto the next steps in transforming these schools.

In September, Gov. Jack Markell and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy announced significant resources and support for the state’s six lowest-performing district schools, providing the opportunity for substantial changes in their approach to improve their students’ academic performance. These Priority Schools, all located within the City of Wilmington and split evenly between the Christina and Red Clay school districts, are eligible to share about $6 million to implement locally-developed, state-approved plans. The funding comes from several sources including federal School Improvement Grant and remaining Race to the Top resources.

Over the following four months, Red Clay leaders worked with educators, families and community members to develop school plans tailored to meet the unique needs of the students in Highlands Elementary, Shortlidge Academy, and Warner Elementary. The plans are in line with a Memorandum of Understanding agreed to by the district and DDOE.

Red Clay’s school board approved individual school plans on January 27, and after review by Delaware Department of Education staff and national experts, the schools will continue to work with the community, district, and state to finalize plans for the 2015-16 school year.

In the coming days, the department will provide feedback to Red Clay about ways to continue to strengthen all three plans during that process so that final plans can be approved in the spring.

“We know that many of the children in these communities face unique challenges that require more support and resources. Thanks to Red Clay’s leadership and collaboration with its school communities, Highland, Shortlidge, and Warner now will have the plans and resources to better meet students’ needs,” Murphy said. 

Red Clay Deputy Superintendent Hugh Broomall said his district is ready to move forward.

“We’re excited about the opportunity,” he said. “The work is hard, but we’re ready to engage in the process.”

Highlights of the School Plans


All Schools:

  • Parents will notice better coordinated referrals to community services for families and supports for teachers to improve behavior management in the classroom.
  • Schools will implement the use of iPads and laptops for students and teachers to improve technology literacy for students, with support to help teachers integrate this technology into their lessons.
  • Each school will host a leadership team, which will include a parent and community member, to help inform the decision-making of the school leader. The team’s responsibilities will include: organizing correspondence to the school community on developments in academic and social-emotional programming, improving academic growth and reviewing academic goals, monitoring progress on the implementation of the school’s plan toward its goals, reviewing achievements of teachers, and revisiting ongoing supports to ensure their success.
  • The district is implementing a new math curriculum in all three schools.

Shortlidge and Warner Elementary Schools

  • The district will reconfigure grades at two of the schools, with Shortlidge becoming a PK-3 grade campus and Warner becoming 4-5 grade campus.
  • Schools will offer Saturday Library as a time set aside for students and families to study a particular topic and for families to read with their children.
  • Schools will offer increased after school enrichment activities that are academic in focus but have character-building components that teach students skills such as sportsmanship and self-esteem. For example, Reading Basketball would offer students reading remediation with basketball games as a reward for participating.

Highlands Elementary School

  • Highlands will foster opportunities for parent-led activities for families at the school, such as family fitness night and a science expo.
  • Reading and math activities at Highlands will ensure parents have the tools needed to support their students to be successful in core content areas.
  • And Saturday activities at Highlands for students and families will increase tech literacy of students and provide parents with life skills workshops.

Alison May (302) 735-4000

3 thoughts on “Red Clay Priority School Plans Approved By Delaware DOE

  1. ——————————————————————————–

    From: Murphy Mark
    Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 7:02 PM
    To: DOE
    Subject: Welcoming a new team member

    Good Evening Team,

    We are incredibly excited to welcome a new team member. Starting on June 9th, Penny Schwinn will join our team as our new Chief Accountability and Performance Officer (CAPO). Penny comes to us with a wealth of experience (bio below this email), including as a teacher, school founder and leader, school district Assistant Superintendent and school board member. She has spent most of her career in Sacramento, CA but began her teaching career in Baltimore City schools and earned her Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins. As Penny and her family settle into Delaware, let’s give them a warm welcome. Penny is copied on this email if you would like to say hi.

    With the arrival of Penny we can also now announce a modification within the department structure under the broad heading of “accountability.” This is a further part of the realignment that began last spring with the goal of clarifying our roles and our work to support our educators and students. First, as you know, Brain Touchette and the Assessment Workgroup have been reporting directly to the Office of the Secretary for the last year. The Assessment Workgroup will now report to the CAPO. Second, the Delivery Unit led by Kate Villari, will also report to the CAPO.

    I want to end this note with a deep thank you to both Brian and Kate. They have both done an absolutely incredible job of keeping critically important and complex work moving forward over the last few months. In Brian’s case, positioning the state for the critical implementation of the new Smarter Assessments and in Kate’s case, leading an absolutely massive stream of internal and external performance management! Not only did both welcome the opportunities and challenges, but truly advanced our collective work in service of our children. Please join me in thanking them both for their recent leadership and service!



    Mark T. Murphy
    Secretary of Education
    401 Federal Street, Suite 2
    Dover, DE 19901-3639


    Penny is the Assistant Superintendent of Performance Management for Sacramento City Public Schools and the Founder of Capitol Collegiate Academy. She taught high school in Baltimore City through 2006, then spent a year on staff with Teach For America coaching new teachers in south Los Angeles. Penny transitioned into the private sector working for a multi-billion dollar company where she supervised work in the finance, operations, marketing, and information departments. In 2009, Penny moved home to Sacramento to begin the Building Excellent Schools Fellowship while acting as consultant to the Superintendent for St. HOPE Public Schools. Through Building Excellent Schools, Penny founded Capitol Collegiate, which is producing exceptional results for traditionally underserved students (top 10% nationwide on the Terra Nova). She also successfully ran for Sacramento County School Board as an education reform candidate, representing a district of 180,000 people. Penny is a Commissioner for Sacramento County Parks and earned her BA from UC Berkeley, her MA from Johns Hopkins, and is defending her PhD in Education Finance from Claremont and EdD from USC this year.


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