by Terry Rogers
On Tuesday, July 21, Milford School District Board of Education will hold an election for an at-large seat. Voting will be held from 7 AM until 8 PM at Milford High School (1019 North Walnut Street) and Evelyn I. Morris Early Childhood Center (8609 Third Street, Lincoln). Rony Baltazar-Lopez and Scott Willey are both vying for the seat. Below are questions we asked Willey and his answers.
Willey is married to his wife, Holly, and they have four children, Kassidy, Jorja, Tirsten and Izaac. Spending most of his free time with family and friends, he is also actively involved with the Milford Little League Board and coaches multiple sports. He graduated from Caesar Rodney High School in 1995 and has been mainly in the construction business since his graduation. For the past ten years, he and a partner started a construction company and poultry farm in Milford.
What do you see as the biggest issue facing Milford School District in the upcoming school year?
Finding a way to get the kids back to school is the most important.
Do you feel the current Milford School Board has handled the recent COVID-19 pandemic well? If so, what were some of the positive outcomes? What would or could you have done differently?
I believe that the School Board did what they had to do with absolutely no template to work from. I don’t feel it would be appropriate for myself to say what they could have done different. We all have more experience today than they had when the decisions had to be made.
With graduation rates in Milford at almost 90 percent, how would you, as a school board member, continue to improve this rate?
Some of these kids that are not graduating need a curriculum that would concentrate on technical skills. We need to get these kids ready to enter a workforce that needs them.
What ideas do you have to improve student test scores throughout the district?
As a School Board member, it would be my responsibility to take all the input from the district and make an informed decision. I look forward to working with the District to improve all areas of the district.
Overcrowding continues to be a problem in Milford schools. What ideas do you have to address this overcrowding?
Money is the answer. I do believe that the majority of people in the community would support a referendum, but they just have a hard time with how government spends money. So, we have to put together a fiscally responsible referendum that the community can support.
Recently Milford School District requested a Certificate of Need from the state to refurbish the old Middle School into a 5th/6th grade school. Although the request was denied last year, the district has stated they plan to submit another request this year. Do/did you support this request and would you like to see the district continue to seek approval to refurbish the old school? If not, what are your ideas for the building?
I would support any feasible solution to the property.
What areas do you see that could be improved in Milford and what ideas are you hoping to implement to make those improvements?
Milford is a good district. There is always room for improvement and growth. I would like to see it in community relations. If we don’t have kids at school that want to learn, then they start to create a hard environment for teaching.
Schools may be facing budget reductions due to lost revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic at the state level. In what areas do you see the district able to cut costs without impacting student learning? What areas do you not want to see cut?
We already had budget problems prior to this COVID-19 problem. I don’t feel there are any areas that can afford to be cut. Unfortunately, if it comes to this, the Board will have to take everything into consideration.
Recently, a federal judge declared that the method for determining property tax in Delaware was unconstitutional as it used 20 and 30 year old assessment numbers to determine taxes. In what way do you see this possibly impacting Milford School District in the future?
This can be a huge negative towards the district. If all the property owners get hit with higher property tax, how can we expect them to vote for a needed referendum?
In addition to the two polling places, voters who live within the boundaries of Milford School District may vote by absentee ballot. Applications for absentee ballots can be obtained at https://ivote.de.gov or at https://elections.delaware.gov/services/voter/absentee/school.shtml or call the Kent County Elections Office at 302-739-4498. The deadline to register for absentee ballot is July 17 at 12 Noon. Those who plan to vote in person must bring photo identification to the polling place.