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.
1. What do you believe are the major challenges facing the Milford School District ? How will you help to resolve them ?
The biggest challenge facing the Milford School District is solving the projected budget deficiencies without disenfranchising the community that it serves. Between rising costs and State money reductions, the Milford School District is facing financial shortcomings. The districts main revenue generator is taxation. The district will have to continue to increase school taxes to maintain a balanced budget. First and foremost, the School Board must get out in front to communicate and educate the citizens of the district as to why their taxes will increase and to where those monies will be spent. With strong leadership and an emphasis on transparency and communication, the Milford School District can serve its constituents.
2. What do you believe are the opportunities for the Milford School District ? How will you help the District to realize them ?
The Milford School District, straddling Kent and Sussex Counties, has an opportunity to be a leader in serving the needs of special education in Lower Delaware. With the changes in the Delaware laws in recent years regarding special education, Delaware has become a landing place for families with special needs children from around the Mid-Atlantic. In my opinion, Milford School District should renovate/build a school to focus on special education. This would allow Milford to keep special needs children in the district, as well as, provide an alternative to the expensive services from the “resort” districts for our neighboring districts. Thus, not only keeping Milford’s money in Milford, but creating an additional revenue stream. This will cost substantial money to do this. However, it should be looked at as an investment in our children and our community.
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 increases whether from referendum for school expansion or through tuition tax are inevitable. The Milford School District resides within a vibrant, growing community. The District must grow and adapt to keep pace with the community. With that said, it is essential for the Board and the School Administration to communicate and educate the residents of the community it serves. As a board member, it would be my responsibility to have an open line of communication with the district residents: face to face, phone, email and social media. Whatever the method, a board member’s top priority should be to be available. For those with opposing views, I ask: What type of community do you wish to be in? If the answer to that question is a growing successful community, then I ask them to be invested in the Milford School District just as you would in your retirement. Whoever, this investment will return educated, motivated and prepared citizens to the community we live in.
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?
Plain and simple, the Milford School District must build a new High School. A new high school, frees space for the Academy which appears to have outgrown its capacity already.
6. What do you believe should be done with the former Middle School building ? How will you help to advance that idea?
As mentioned previously, I believe Milford needs to have a greater investment in special needs education services. The site of the former Middle School seems a logical choice. Either through renovation or re-construction, this location could serve as a Special School. As well as, provide a location for additional counseling and behavioral services for all students.
7. How can the District best recruit and retain quality teachers ? How can the Board of Education assist ?
The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future performed a study on impacts of teacher turnover. The study found the of recruiting, hiring and training a replacement teachers are substantial. All efforts must be made to retaining Milford’s quality teaching staff. In addition, to providing compensation on par with our neighboring school districts, I would recommend that the Board create, fund, and sufficiently schedule high-quality induction programs for new teachers. Beginning teachers who have access to intensive mentoring by expert colleagues are much less likely to leave teaching in the early years” These programs will encourage teachers to stay in the profession and improve their competency. Adopt policies that place experienced teachers with students of greatest needs. Provide new teachers with release time to observe their mentors. Include teachers in school-based decision and policy making. Support policies that reduce class size and increase funding for training and quality resources.
8. In what ways do you believe students and families can be better served ? How can the Board of Education assist ?
Keeping class room size smaller with lower teacher to student ratios is beneficial to students and staff. This also allows educators to get the families more involved in their children’s education. Parent involvement can make a difference in a child’s education. According to the Center for Public Education: Two-thirds of teachers surveyed believed that their students would perform better in school if their parents were more involved in their child’s education, while 72% of parents say children of uninvolved parents sometimes “fall through the cracks” in schools.
Students with involved parents, no matter their income or background, are more likely to:
– Earn higher grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs
– Be promoted, pass their classes and earn credits
– Attend school regularly
– Have better social skills, show improved behavior and adapt well to school
– Graduate and go on to post-secondary education
I will support educator’s efforts, of all types, that require parents to engage with their child’s education and hold the parent accountable for their child’s academic success and behavior.
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