**The polls will be open Tuesday, May 14 from 10am until 8pm at Benjamin Banneker Elementary – 449 North Street; Milford Evelyn I. Morris Early Childhood Center – 8609 Third Street, Lincoln; and Lulu Ross Elementary – 310 Lovers Lane, Milford.**
After the filing deadline for the Milford Board of Education on Friday, March 1, it was determined that six candidate were running for the At-large position. Candidates seeking the At-Large seat for the Milford School District Board of Education include Hunter Emory, Kevin W. Marshall Jr., Natalie R. Shockley, Alan R. Southard, Robert B. Vincelette Jr. and Michael Wells. School Board Elections will be held on Tuesday, May 14, and the winner of the election will serve a five year term. Milford LIVE sat down with candidates and asked them questions regarding our community schools, children and parents.
Please provide us with a personal and professional background including any connections with the Milford School District.
From Milford, Lives in Milford
Hard working small businessman
Friend to all in the Community
Currently working on a Masters of Business Administration at Wilmington University
Why did you decide to run for the Milford School Board ?
The parents, teachers and citizens need fresh ideas and fresh new faces. When I look at the current School Board I see a lack of Community Representation. Our Wonderful city of Milford has changed over the years and now we have a growing rich population of Diversity and Culture to match. These new voices should be heard and need to be heard. By running for the Milford School board I plan on taking the ideas of all citizens in our community to the school board level and maintaining a high level of servitude to our students, teachers and members of our community.
What do you think are the greatest challenges the Milford School Board faces?
Financial and Educational Issues. The school District will continue to struggle with Budgetary concerns if revenues are not increased. The Middle School Closing, Sequestration along with Federal and State budget reductions, will have a huge impact on improving the quality of our Teaching staff through professional development and providing teachers with resources to teach, especially with the Implementation of Common Core; many of the current resources and teaching materials are grossly out dated and require immediate attention. The School Board enacts policies in the best interest of the students, although; it is very important to support our Teachers, Staff Members and administrators; the Students must be and remain our first priority. Achievement Scores posted by our MHS students are below state average and parents are choosing other schools over Milford at an alarming rate. We can accomplish great things by strengthening the instructional programs to educate all of the children, even those who present to greatest challenges. We must develop a supportive policy to provide all students with access to a quality education, not one that is punitive and punishes the students.
Being Empathetic and not Sympathetic allows the understanding of the challenges each student brings to school while still holding them accountable. Teaching salaries need to change immediately to become competitive and to bring our hard working educators and support staff up to the salaries deserving of the work displayed. Looking at the cost to run the school and offices regarding energy usage will provide opportunity to use finical resources wisely and save money. In regards to Community. The School board should represent the diversity presented in the community. As it stands right now it doesn’t. There needs to be members who represent minorities, young families with kids in the district, and multiple levels of income, especially since milford now has nearly 60% of students now qualifying for free or reduced lunch programs. The Milford School District has a Wonderful and Rich History, but we cannot continue to rely on History to make policy decisions on educating our children. We must be proactive and progressive in how we provide access for all students to all programs.
What would you like to see done with the Milford Middle School building that was recently closed?
Is there much that can be done with the building? It has been deemed too expensive to repair or upgrade. The recent additions to the Middle School are still in great shape and are currently housing school departments such as transportation, technology, nutrition and so on. We should explore ways to honor the History of the School as it has played host to some extraordinary events. When it comes time to ask the Community for a new school, that will be the time to memorialize the Middle School and incorporate a design that recognizes the school as part of an important part of history.
How do you feel about the implementation of three additional School Resource Officers in the District?
The School District has done a fantastic job in making our schools safe and secure. There are some security concerns at Ross and Morris. These are the only two schools that do not require visitors to check in at the main point of entry before having access to the entire school. While school resource officers provide more than just security; for example, drug education and crisis training and support, it is difficult to justify an additional $300,000.00 per year when so many other fiscal challenges face the district right now. Teachers are underpaid, the district is forced to make staff cuts every year, lack of funding for summer school and tutoring services; as well as, not enough money to not only enhance the current teaching materials but upgrading to Common Core State Standards. But….wait we can afford a $300,000.00 bill for 3 resource officers? This could have been discussed further and based more on community feedback. Many in the Community feel as though they didn’t have the opportunity to provide any input whether for or against before the Vote took place. We have to make sure the Community is involved especially with the financial impact this will have. On this issue in particular, it would have been a great opportunity for the School Board the encourage increased attendance to the meetings.
What are your thoughts surrounding DCAS testing ?
Unfortunately we are in a time where high stakes testing is King. Federal and State Governments place so much emphasis on Standardized testing including the DCAS, that it is often the focal point of the decisions made for instructional programs, teacher evaluations and school accountability issues. This high stakes testing has created a non productive culture of competition instead of collaboration. It Forces teachers everyday to teach to the test instead of teaching to research-based standards. Can we blame them when so much of it is based on their evaluation? The National Education Association has recently filed law suits on behalf of three districts against the state of Florida because they are using test scores to evaluate teachers. When the NEA speak out against testing like DCAS, that says it all. When you compare DCAS testing scores to SAT, PSAT or NAEP testing, the DCAS scores are grossly misaligned. Isn’t the purpose of the DCAS to be a precursor to test like SAT? Shouldn’t they all be in line suggesting a strong educational program? DCAS should go away and it is. The State of Delaware plans on adopting a new national level assessment program which will be in line with the new national standards. Will this new assessment help teachers and students or will it punish them. Unfortunately as long as the Government refuses to authorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (formally known as No Child Left Behind), we must continue to suffer the consequences of their actions. They must pass a new law that provides districts, schools, teachers and students support , not punishment.
Why should voters choose you on election day ?
Voters should choose me on election day because they want someone willing to be upfront and honest with them about what happens on the School Board. They want someone who understands what they go through on a daily basis and someone who isn’t afraid to go out into their neighborhoods, their places of worship, their workplaces and welcome them -their ideas and thoughts. All students, teachers and citizens of the community deserve it and demand it. They want someone who will stand for them and be their voice. A Champion