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May 30, 1997     Cape Gazette
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May 30, 1997

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14 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, May 30 - June 5, 1997 Schroeder seeks support for legislation to limit class size By Rosanne Pack As the Delaware General As- sembly goes back into session next week, several issues hang on the decisions of the Joint Finance Committee. The committee spent the last two weeks conducting hearings and deliberating recommenda- tions for slicing the state funding pie. Cape Region elected official, Rep. John Schroeder (D-Lewes) is watching an education bill that he and Timothy Boulden (R- Newark) have co-sponsored. The bill, which has been tabled pend- ing the conclusion of joint finance sessions, would allow school dis- tricts the option of reducing class sizes in early elementary grades. In spite of broad bi-partisan sup- port, Schroeder said he can't pre- dict whether the bill will make it to the floor of the house before the end of the legislative session June 30. "I discussed the bill at great length with the joint finance com- mittee. It was tabled because the committee wanted more time to consider the merits of the bill, the potential cost and the long term benefits," the representative said. "The bill would make it an option for school districts to limit class size to no more than 15 in early el- ementary grades. There is wide- spread agreement that the smaller classes will provide a better learn- ing environment for children.and a better teaching environment for their instructors." In discussing the bill with edu- cators and other legislators, Schroeder said that most see smaller classes as a way to reduce common problems such as disrup- tive behavior and competition for teacher's attention. He said educa- Freshman Price takes tors feel that it will give them a better grasp on their classroom as a unit. The cost of the bill has been an issue since Schroeder and Boulden devised it. The legisla- tors originally proposed the 8CHROEDER smaller class size plan be implemented in grades kindergarten through fifth. However, projections of the cost of providing additional teachers and possibly more classroom space to accomplish this made them scale back their proposal to include kindergarten through third grade. The estimated total price of phasing in a grade a year in those four grades is $21.1. The projec- tion for the first year of kinder- garten alone is $3.36. If the bill is passed into law, Schroeder thinks that a few pro- gressive school districts will take advantage of the option and their experience with the early grade smaller classes will encourage other districts to follow them. He said that the results of smaller classes should be easy to record, and over all, their should be a high degree of accountability that will show the advantages of smaller classes. "Thisbill is one of the priorities of educators. When I went before joint finance, almost all the teach- ers of the year from all the dis- tricts came to support the legisla- tion," Schroeder said. "Teachers, parents, administrators feel that this would have the greatest im- pact of anything we can do for better education." He said acceptance will depend a lot on whether the department of education and local districts are willing to work out funding plans. "It will cost money, we don't know how it would effect teacher numbers and classroom spaces. We can find a dozen reasons not to-try it," he said. "Instead of that, I hope people will look at it and see the potential and say, 'This is a darn good thing. We're going to make it work!' "Let's get creative. I believe if it passes, some districts will imme- diately embrace it, and others will see the success and follow suit." For the bill to make it to the floor of the house, the joint fi- nance committee must sign out the legislation and release it so the sponsors can have it placed on the agenda. Schroeder said that par- ents and educators who support the bill can contact their elected officials and let them know of their wishes regarding its passage. first By Rosanne Pack Freshman representative Shirley Price (D-Millville) is looking at the last month of her first year in the Delaware House of Representatives, and she admits that she is excited. She has been warned about the accelerated pace of the last weeks of the session, and dded to that ex- pectation, she will take her first bill to the floor of the house next week. "When we go back in session June 3, I will be working my first bill," she said. "It's re- PRICE garding line- of-duty death benefits, and it would increase the benefit from $100,000 to $150,000. It also would change some wording in the existing ben- efits regulations so that it would remove the word "dependent" from those who can be named as beneficiary." Price said the legislation is pri- marily for emergency workers such as firemen and emergency medical technicians. She said many of those workers live at home with parents or in circum- stances other than with a wife and children. She said that those emer- gency workers deserve the fight to designate their beneficiaries as they see fit. "We.don't have them in such large numbers and fortunately don't have that many deaths in the line of duty; however, they.should have options in determining their beneficiaries." Price has spent her first year in the House on the education com- mittee, and she said defining the new position of the secretary of bill to floor of house education is a priority for the Delaware General Assembly. She said most of the constituents that contact her like the idea of the state board of education retaining some power. There has been con- troversy over whether or not the board would share power with the secretary. "Some of my constituents have made a point of calling me to tell me that they would like to see the state board still able to exercise power along with the secretary. They feel that will give them bet- ter access to issues in the depart- ment of education, and they will still have some input from the lo- cal level. The board is representa- tive of different regions of the state. "Governor Carper sees educa- tional issues as a priority, but we have to look down the road to when officeholders change. We always have to have checks and balances." Price said she is also closely fol- lowing the legislation concerning the emergency 911 phone number, and the possible addition of a 311 exchange for non-emergency calls. She said that most of those she talks with see the importance of sticking with one number that everyone is already familiar with. "It should be simple, we have a successful system and should stick with it; but it's not that sim- ple," she said. "I think adding the 311 would undermine all the edu- cation that we have instilled in our children and in the public in gen- eral. If the 911 system is over- loaded, rather than create a sepa- rate 311 bureaucracy, give 911 some help." Price said she hopes the 911 legislation comes up next week, and the majority of people will see the importance of maintaining the 911 system as it is. IdllllJll II I That is, unless .you have a Rate Enhancer CD [rom County Bank. sa you don't get a mxmd lm? With the gate lmncer CD fzom C.ou ihak, Du get a gzeat interior rote m be With. Then, if that mul udas a tumr the bette:, you lmve the optkm m 'ah,tmct' taxi k.k  m tl  muff M 5tour rate can Im mlmnced not m, but m. Ira, e/. Jura: threat $5,000 , mine, rhea sit hwk and watch mjr mm nr. Ouz 2 m 5 mmr Rate Enlmncer t:a) i, Ft00c up m $10o,000. jut motor gtut lavzmmm mmmitV  unty i ann