Firch Runs for School Board

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Milford will see five candidates running for the Milford School Board in the upcoming election, to be held on Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Ronald T. Evans, Michael Firch, Jason M. Miller, Michael D McKain and Michael Wells are vying for the At Large seat, which serves for five years.

Michael Firch

1. What do you believe are the major challenges facing the Milford School District ? How will you help to resolve them ?

Two areas that I believe could be major challenges for the school district are; population growth and proposed budget cuts. I will work collaboratively with the other members of the school board, the school district’s administrative and leadership teams, the teachers and support staff, along with community members to design manageable solutions to these and other challenges that the district may be facing in the future.

2. What do you believe are the opportunities for the Milford School District ? How will you help the District to realize them ?

With the potential increase in population, the construction of a new hospital and an increase in new job opportunities in the area, I believe the development of partnerships with business owners and the increase in dual enrollment possibilities with Delaware Technical and Community College at the high school could lead to student earning potential in the areas of state and national certifications prior to exiting high school. I volunteer with an organization that works with school agencies and work force development programs from around the country. This organization works with states and communities reviewing programs from kindergarten through post-secondary opportunities including college and career readiness initiatives to define solutions that will positively impact the earning potential of the workforce.

3. With proposed cuts to local school funding in the proposed State of Delaware budget, what programs could see changes and how can the District protect itself?

One area that could see changes could be toward support programs, outside of direct classroom instruction, that assist our students. A review of these programs and a decision to keep those that have the greatest impact on the largest student population could be maintained while programs that have not shown sufficient impact on student growth could be suspended until further funding is obtained.

4. What is your opinion of the recent referendum and tuition tax increases ? How will you interact with others that share an opposing position ?

Tax rate increases are needed to support the students in our schools. While the demand to make our students more college and career ready begins with programs starting in pre-K, funding to support these programs thoroughly must be supported. While budget cuts to educational programs from the state level are considered to balance the state budget, the supports required to maintain a quality educational experience for students must not go without funding. As a member of our community and our school board, I would engage in collaborative conversations to insure that information is passed between school district leaders and staff, and community members to insure open dialogue referencing the needs of the district and the needs of the community members who support our schools.

5. Student population is projected to grow in the Milford School District over the next several years. How do you propose that the District meets this increase?

The budget to support school districts is reviewed each year, with projections stating that there will be an increase in the population, community and district leaders should work collaboratively to discuss this increase and the supports required to meet the demand.

6. What do you believe should be done with the former Middle School building ? How will you help to advance that idea?

One of my hobbies is bicycling, and I have had the fortune of riding in some of those most beautiful places around the country. One of those places is Watkins Glen, New York. Watkins Glen is located in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. In that town, there is a school building, similar in size and construction, to the middle school, which was repurposed into an apartment building. I think potentially repurposing the middle school, at least the main structure, into an apartment building, would keep the historic significance of the structure alive in our community. A review of the idea with district and community leaders could lend itself to a discussion about repurposing.

7. How can the District best recruit and retain quality teachers ? How can the Board of Education assist ?

Recruitment and retention of quality teachers is paramount to a strong educational system for our students. Here are a few ideas. Incentives related to financial reimbursement for staff attaining a masters or doctoral degree who meet the criteria established for reimbursement is a positive way to attract and retain teachers. Providing quality teachers with the possibility of leadership roles and responsibilities as they continue with the district also promotes retention. Allowing teachers to take an active role in their own professional development opportunities to increase their toolbox of strategies for the classroom promotes trust and builds relationships among staff through professional learning communities. The Board of Education can assist with collaborative communication efforts with district personnel to define incentive opportunities for the recruitment and retention of quality teachers.

8. In what ways do you believe students and families can be better served ? How can the Board of Education assist ?

I believe the students and families are being served exceptionally well in the district. The Board of Education can assist by working collaboratively with district leaders, district personnel, community members, and community leaders to best serve the needs of the students, families, and the Milford community.

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