On Monday, December 15, the Milford School District Board of Education voted on 22 contracts for administrators throughout the district. Only 19 of those contracts were renewed as the board voted not to renew contracts for Dr. David Carter, Principal of Milford High School, Travis Moorman, Director of Teaching and Learning and Jon Lobiondo, Assistant Principal of Evelyn I. Morris Early Childhood Center.
“I cannot discuss the circumstances surrounding Dr. Carter and Mr. Moorman as it is a personnel matter,” Dr. Kohel said. “However, I can say that Mr. Lobiondo’s situation is different since his contract was not renewed out of fiscal diligence. The board pays no salaries out of local funds, and the board has made it perfectly clear they will not do that. However, unlike other schools that can project next year’s student count based on current enrollment, Morris cannot always do that. Since we cannot project with certainty that the school will earn enough units with the September 30 count to maintain an assistant principal, we non-renew Mr. Lobiondo’s contract every year until the position is justified on September 30.”
The news of the non-renewal of Dr. Carter’s contract surprised many parents and students in the district. Dr. Kohel said that non-renewing a contract is difficult for both parties, but said that tough decisions must be made even if they come with strong emotions.
“For Milford School District, non-renewal of an administrative contract means that the administrator will not come back to that specific position following the end of the contract date,” Dr. Kohel explained. “It does not mean that the administrator cannot apply for or interview for a different position within the district. The board may non-renew or non-extend an administrator’s contract for any reason, in good faith, they consider sufficient.” Dr. Kohel pointed out that, two years ago, the board voted on 24 contracts, but this year only voted on 22, indicating that the district has reduced the number of administrative positions over the past several years.
At the meeting, board members also approved March 31, 2015 as the date for the upcoming referendum, in which Milford is asking for an increase in school taxes for additional operating costs as well as a new high school. Dr. Kohel said that non-renewal of the contracts was not, in any way, related to the referendum.
Dr. Carter became the principal of Milford High School in 2012, becoming Interim Principal when Tamara Cooper, who came to the district in 2010, left at the end of the 2011 school year. Dr. Carter consistently worked to stress the importance of education in the students at the school, often reminding them that there is more to life than high school. He was a member of the 2008 Championship football team coaching staff at Milford and students often return to the school to let Dr. Carter know how they are doing after graduation.
Travis Moorman has worked in public education for more than 16 years as a teacher, math specialist and administrator. The foundation of Mr. Moorman’s experience has been in the elementary setting, but he learned many effective strategies that could be applied across all grade levels. Part of Mr. Moorman’s supervisory role was overseeing curriculum at the secondary level, which included Milford High School.
A review of the Delaware Department of Education statistics on state test scores since Dr. Carter became principal indicates that in Fall 2012, ninth graders at Milford had only a 46.6 proficiency rate in reading and a 29.6 proficiency in math. Grade 10 students had a 50.4 proficiency rate in reading and a 44.8 proficiency rate in math. In Spring 2014, ninth graders showed a 61.5 percent proficiency in reading and a 63.8 percent proficiency in math. Tenth graders showed a 67.4 percent proficiency in reading and a 63.1 percent proficiency in math. Graduation rates for Milford improved from 79.9 percent in 2011 to 83.6 percent in 2013, while dropout rates dropped from 5.7 percent in 2011 to 3.7 percent in 2013. The high school did not meet Advanced Yearly Progress goals last year, neither did Milford Central Academy.
Mr. Moorman did not comment on the non-renewal of his contract and Dr. Carter could not be reached for comment.