Free Public Schools
CHAPTER 15. Fiscal Provisions
The free public schools of the State shall be maintained and supported by such moneys as shall be appropriated from time to time by the General Assembly, local school tax revenues generated and payments received in accordance with this title, payments received in accordance with Chapters 4, 5 and 6 of this title, and appropriated and nonappropriated special funds otherwise authorized or legally acquired. Funds appropriated or otherwise allocated to the Department of Education on behalf of the public schools of this State shall be administered by the Department in accordance with this title or other applicable state or federal laws and regulations.32 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 58; 35 Del. Laws, c. 158, § 1; 36 Del. Laws, c. 207, § 1; Code 1935, § 2704; 14 Del. C. 1953, § 1501; 56 Del. Laws, c. 299; 57 Del. Laws, c. 113; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 86;
Such appropriations as are made by the General Assembly for the free public schools, and such money as is received from the federal government for school purposes under any law shall be paid by the State Treasurer in accordance with the items of the official state school budget and with the appropriations of the General Assembly therefor, as required by the Department of Education; but such payments shall be made only upon orders of the said Department of Education, signed by its Secretary or the Secretary’s designee. For all competitive grants to public school districts and public charter schools administered by the Department of Education, the Department shall publish on its website for a period of 12 months from the award notice the threshold eligibility requirements, the criteria for evaluation of applications, the names of successful applicants, the applications of successful applicants, and the amount awarded to each successful applicant.Code 1915, § 2311; 32 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 63; Code 1935, § 2707; 14 Del. C. 1953, § 1504; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, §§ 87, 89A; 79 Del. Laws, c. 131, § 1; 81 Del. Laws, c. 280, § 364;
No contract for public school purposes that is predicated on the availability of state funds shall be made to extend beyond the fiscal year covered by the current appropriation of the General Assembly in effect at the time of the making of such contract, unless all of the funds required to satisfy the obligation are available for encumbrance, or a cancellation provision should funds not be subsequently appropriated is included in the original contract. This provision does not apply to contracts involving the expenditure of moneys raised by bond issues or advance purchase orders for instructional materials duly authorized by the Secretary of Finance.32 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 64; 32 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 1; Code 1935, § 2708; 14 Del. C. 1953, § 1505; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, §§ 87A, 89A;
(a) The Auditor of Accounts shall each year as soon as possible after July 1 audit the business and financial transactions, records, and accounts of the Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Delaware Center for Education Technology, the Delaware Advisory Council for Career and Vocational Education, the boards of education of the school districts, and, if required by § 513(d) of this title, the charter schools created under Chapter 5 of this title.
(b) The Auditor of Accounts shall publish the results of such audit and shall also mention the name of any person who has made within the last year a gift to said funds, with the amount or value thereof.
(c) In order to ensure that authorized position complements are not exceeded, the Auditor of Accounts is directed to incorporate an examination of the number of authorized positions versus the number of actual positions a district has employed as part of the regular, annual audit review for all public school district audits that commence on or after July 1, 1991. This position audit function shall include, in addition to formula salary positions, an examination of positions and associated “option units” authorized by the Secretary of Education under any appropriation.
(d) Any discrepancy found by the Auditor of Accounts which has resulted in a local school district expending more general funds than it was entitled to during the fiscal year being audited shall be promptly reported to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Controller General and the Secretary of Education. Upon review and determination as to the status of the questioned expenditure, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Controller General and the local school district Board of Education shall develop and certify a written repayment plan.
(e) The local school district may choose to make the required General Fund reimbursement from its local current operating expense account or by agreeing not to utilize a current year General Fund appropriation for which it is otherwise eligible based on unit entitlements. Reimbursements required by this section shall be transacted during the fiscal year in which the over-expenditure is discovered unless the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Controller General agree that the timing of the discovery or the potential impact on the affected district is such that satisfying the obligation in part or in its entirety should be deferred until the next ensuing fiscal year.
(f) In order to assist the Auditor of Accounts in the performance of this function local school districts are instructed to maintain records and make them available in a format that will facilitate this review.Code 1915, c. 71; 32 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 49; Code 1935, § 2710; 14 Del. C. 1953, § 1506; 57 Del. Laws, c. 113; 68 Del. Laws, c. 84, § 195; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, §§ 88, 88A-88C, 89A; 75 Del. Laws, c. 88, § 21(7); 80 Del. Laws, c. 397, § 1;
The Auditor of Accounts may withhold approval of any voucher or bill or order for money of a school district whenever such district shall have failed to comply with this title in the expenditure of its moneys, until such district shall make good such failure.32 Del. Laws, c. 160, § 5; 33 Del. Laws, c. 167, § 1; Code 1935, § 2711; 14 Del. C. 1953, § 1507; 57 Del. Laws, c. 113; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 89A;
No tax revenues of the State, or of any political subdivision thereof, or of any school district, shall be used for the free public education of pupils living in the State on real property exempt from taxes levied on real property. The limitations of this section shall not apply to pupils living on real property owned by the State or any of its political subdivisions, or by the federal government where such real property is used for nonmilitary housing, or where such real estate is exempt from such taxes on account of the use of such property for charitable, educational or religious purposes.14 Del. C. 1953, § 1508; 51 Del. Laws, c. 183; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 89A;
(a) Beginning with the fiscal year ending June 30, 1997, all public school districts, including vocational-technical school districts, both sometimes referred to herein as “district,” are required to submit to the Secretary of Education, 3 financial position reports, 1 on or before February 1, 1 on or before May 1 and 1 on or before August 31 of each year. The format of the reports shall be as prescribed by the Secretary consistent with the provisions of this section, and also shall establish that the school district has sufficient year-end carryover balances, including any nonstate funded share, to fund at least 1 month of local payroll for the next ensuing fiscal year.
The financial position report due by February 1 shall project a school district’s current fiscal year ending balance in its local current expense revenue accounts after taking into consideration all remaining local operating obligations that can be reasonably estimated. To the extent that a district has General Fund balances in their Division III Equalization Accounts, Division II—All Other Costs and Energy Accounts, or in an approved cash option account, such balances may be identified as offsets to any local obligation. If the financial position report shows a deficit occurring prior to the close of the current fiscal year, the district shall indicate what steps it will take to assure that its obligations are satisfied in the current fiscal year. If the financial position report shows a current expense deficit for the current fiscal year, or a surplus that is less than the amount required to satisfy 1 month’s full local payroll and other operating obligations for the ensuing fiscal year, the district shall also indicate what steps it plans to take in the ensuing fiscal year to assure that its future year-end balance will be sufficient to cover at least this amount.
The financial position report due by May 1 shall project a school district’s current fiscal year ending balance in its local current expense revenue accounts after taking into consideration all remaining local operating obligations that can be reasonably estimated. To the extent that a district has General Fund balances in their Division III Equalization Accounts, Division II—All Other Costs and Energy Accounts, or in an approved cash option account, such balances may be identified as offsets to any local obligation. If the financial position report shows a deficit occurring prior to the close of the current fiscal year, the district shall indicate what steps it will take to assure that its obligations are satisfied in the current fiscal year. If the financial position report shows a current expense deficit for the current fiscal year, or a surplus that is less than the amount required to satisfy 1 month’s full local payroll and other operating obligations for the ensuing fiscal year, the district shall also indicate what steps it plans to take in the ensuing fiscal year to assure that its future year-end balance will be sufficient to cover at least this amount.
The financial position report due on or before August 31 of the ensuing fiscal year shall be focused exclusively on local district payroll obligations through and including the October 15 payroll cycle. This report shall compare the district’s year-end current expense balances from the previous fiscal year, and its preliminary Division III Equalization appropriation for the current year (which amount shall be based on 75% of the Division III amount earned in the previous fiscal year), with the district’s projected local salary obligations through October 15. To the extent that this report shows a deficit, the district shall report what steps it will take to meet its payroll obligations through October 15. If the August 31 report projects an October 15 surplus that is less than the amount required to cover 1 month’s full local payroll cycle, the district shall also indicate what steps it plans to take to attempt to assure that such a minimum balance will be in place in the subsequent fiscal year.
Whenever the August 31 report shows that a district will be unable to meet all or some of its payroll obligations through October 15, the district may meet those obligations by requesting from the Secretary of Education with the approval of the Secretary of Finance and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget an advance of state funds in an amount sufficient to cover the district’s payroll obligations through October 15. Upon such request and approval, the Secretary of Finance shall cause to have the requested funds advanced to the district, and the district shall reimburse the State for those funds no later than November 15 of the same year. In addition, the district shall pay an amount to the State for interest defined as the average rate of return on state investments during the period of the loan.
The financial position report shall have been reviewed and approved by the school board of each reorganized school district and be made a part of the public record of that school district. An electronic copy of each report shall be submitted to the Department of Education by the dates specified above. The Department of Education shall provide copies of the submitted reports to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Controller General within 5 working days of all submissions.
(b) Notwithstanding any provision in this Code to the contrary, a minimum of 25% of all projected state funding to any school district, including a vocational-technical school district shall be withheld until the submission of the financial position report required to be filed on or before August 31 pursuant to the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, and the acceptance thereof as satisfactory in the sole discretion of the Secretary of Education, and the certification of the school district’s unit count in accordance with this Code and any rule or regulation promulgated in accordance therewith.
(c) If a school district materially alters its financial position after providing any report required by this section, the school district shall provide financial impact statements to the Department of Education, the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of the Controller General, specifying the nature of such change and its impact upon its previously filed financial position report.
(d) Any school district that fails to comply with this section or any provision herein shall be subject to review, including all of its books and financial records, by the Department of Education, the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of the Controller General in order to determine whether the school district is financially stable.68 Del. Laws, c. 84, § 190; 68 Del. Laws, c. 290, § 228; 69 Del. Laws, c. 39, § 1; 69 Del. Laws, c. 291, § 293; 70 Del. Laws, c. 329, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 180, §§ 89, 89A; 71 Del. Laws, c. 194, § 1; 73 Del. Laws, c. 312, § 276; 75 Del. Laws, c. 88, § 21(7); 75 Del. Laws, c. 439, § 7; 76 Del. Laws, c. 280, § 422; 80 Del. Laws, c. 298, § 361; 81 Del. Laws, c. 280, § 363;
Repealed by 75 Del. Laws, c. 439, § 8, effective Aug. 17, 2006.
The Department of Education shall promulgate regulations by November 1, 2009, establishing procedures for appointment of citizen budget oversight committees for each of the public school districts and charter schools. These committees shall have full access either electronically or in hard-copy format to all financial documents and financial information in the possession of the school districts they are assigned to oversee, with redactions permitted only to protect confidential personal information regarding students or employees. Oversight committees shall have representation from parents, educators, and taxpayers residing in each of the public school districts, provided that in the case of charter schools membership on oversight committees shall consist of parents of students enrolled in the charter school, educators at the charter school, and representatives of the Delaware Department of Education. Where possible, oversight committees shall contain at least 2 members with formal educational or vocational backgrounds amenable to oversight of school district financial statements. The Department of Education shall provide training to committee members. The Department shall also promulgate regulations by November 1, 2009, dictating uniformity and transparency in the financial recording and bookkeeping practices of the school districts and charter schools.77 Del. Laws, c. 197, § 1;
Each district and charter school shall post on its web site by September 1, 2009, and every 3 months thereafter a check register indicating the recipient of each check issued by the school district or charter school, the amount of the check, and identifying information regarding the check sufficient to permit members of the public to seek additional information regarding the payment in question. The only information excepted from inclusion in this database shall be records that would not constitute public records under § 10002 of Title 29, and records for which the disclosure would violate any federal or state law.77 Del. Laws, c. 197, § 1; 78 Del. Laws, c. 382, § 1;
(a) By December 2018, the Department of Education will create a standardized statewide approach to collecting and reporting school-level per-pupil expenditures that all districts and charter schools must follow. At a minimum, the standardized statewide approach must do all of the following:
(1) Comply with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) [P.L. 114-95] requirements by reporting federal funding separate from state and local funding.
(2) Create business rules that will identify which district and charter expenses are to be included and excluded in the per-pupil calculation.
a. At a minimum, expense categories required under ESSA should be included such as administration, instruction, attendance and health services, pupil transportation services, operation and maintenance of plant, fixed charges, and net expenditures to cover deficits for food services and student body activities.
b. At a minimum, expense categories that do not link directly to the day-to-day schooling of pre-K through twelfth-grade students should be excluded. Excluded expense categories include adult education, capital expenditures, community services, fees for student services, debt service, and rent.
c. Salary costs reported under this section must include benefits and other employment costs.
(3) Define the method of determining student enrollment counts used in the per-pupil calculation.
(4) Require that districts and charter schools report 100% of included district and charter expenses, as defined in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, in the following 2 school-level categories:
a. Category 1: Expenditures on resources actually tracked to the school.
b. Category 2: Each school’s share of central office expenditures (expenditures shared across multiple schools).
Each district and charter school must also report the grand total of Categories 1 and 2.
(5) Give clear guidance to districts and charter schools about how to assign district and charter expenses into Categories 1 and 2 for reporting purposes. The guidance must do at least all of the following:
a. Require that at least the expense categories required under ESSA are commonly defined across the State in how they get assigned to Category 1 or 2.
b. Require that districts and charter schools report whether they have assigned any expense categories that they have discretion over into Category 1 or 2.
c. Require that all expenditures for personnel who work in schools at least 80% of the time are reported in Category 1 using actual, not average, salary costs.
d. Require that central office expenditures be either divided across all schools according to student enrollment or be divided by time spent in each school.
e. Require that charter schools without central offices report 100% of included district and charter expenses, as defined in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, in Category 1, since all expenditures are made at the school site, so that reporting is comparable across districts and charter schools.
f. Require that any expense categories and amounts excluded from the calculation, as defined in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, are still reported.
g. Require that districts and charter schools commonly report the averages of teacher and paraprofessional salaries at the school-level.
h. 1. Require that districts and charter schools report expenditures with codes that identify each expenditure with the type of expenditure, such as personnel, materials and supplies, or contract services.
2. The codes under paragraph (a)(5)h.1. of this section must be developed as part of the process under subsection (c) of this section, with an intent to provide public transparency regarding how schools spend money.
(b) Annually, beginning with school year 2018-2019 data reported no later than December 2019, the Department of Education will publicly report school-level per-pupil expenditures, as defined in subsection (a) of this section, as follows:
(1) The annual data must be publicly reported in at least the following formats:
a. Online individual school report cards.
b. Downloadable statewide data files or interactive, user-friendly online statewide data tools that allow the user to draw comparisons between schools.
(2) At a minimum, the following information must be included with school-level per pupil expenditures:
a. The school level (elementary, middle or high school).
b. The grade levels served and student enrollment of each school.
c. The statewide school-level per-pupil expenditure averages, using the grand total of Categories 1 and 2 as defined in paragraph (a)(4) of this section.
d. The districtwide school-level per-pupil expenditure average, using districtwide averages for Category 1 spending as defined in paragraph (a)(4) of this section.
e. School-level student demographics including rates of English learners, students living in poverty, and special education students by need category.
f. School-level student outcomes, including proficiency in state assessments and graduation rates.
g. Average teacher salary at the school-level.
h. Average paraprofessional salary at the school-level.
(3) The following information may be included with school-level per-pupil expenditures:
a. The district and statewide averages of student demographics, as defined in paragraph (b)(2)e. of this section.
b. The district and statewide averages of student outcomes, as defined in paragraph (b)(2)f. of this section.
c. The district and statewide averages of teacher salaries and paraprofessional salaries, as defined in paragraphs (b)(2)g. and h. of this section.
d. Names of special programs in the school that drive resource allocation, such as districtwide special education programs.
(4) Individual school report cards must be posted on state, district, and charter websites.
(c) The Department of Education must include public community involvement in developing the standardized statewide approach as follows:
(1) Hold at least 3 public meetings to review and receive input on the standardized statewide approach before finalizing the approach for district and charter school use.
(2) Hold at least 3 public meetings to review and receive input on the templates for publically reporting data.
(3) Include representatives of at least the following constituencies:
a. District leaders.
b. Business managers.
c. Charter leaders.
d. Local school board members.
e. Business community.
g. Advocates with specific knowledge of low-income students, special education, or of English learners.
h. Educators and the Delaware State Education Association.
i. Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens.
(4) Report twice to the Chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees on how the requirements of subsection (c) of this section were met and how feedback was incorporated by the end of December 2018 and again before the release of the 2018-2019 data that will be reported no later than December 2019.
(d) Each year, after new school-level per-pupil expenditure data is released to the public, the Department of Education must offer at least 1 training session with the objective to increase understanding and use of the data in order to make data-driven decisions for students. The training, which is optional, must be offered to at least each of the following groups:
(1) Each of the local school boards and citizen’s budget oversight committees.
(2) School and central office leaders from districts and charters.
(3) The general public and parents, which must be held at a time and place accessible to working parents and with translation services available.
(e) The Department of Education shall oversee the statewide collection of school-level financial data. To this end, when processing financial and personnel transactions in the statewide systems of record, local school districts and charter schools shall use a standard set of codes as established by the Department of Education.81 Del. Laws, c. 388, § 1; 82 Del. Laws, c. 242, § 335;