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 ?
Restoring Community and moving forward together. The major challenges are actually great opportunities. At no other time in the history of the school district has the chance for a great future been so available. The Milford School District has the opportunity to recognize relationship building within the community as a top priority, in addition; involving the stakeholders (Parents, Teachers, Citizens…) as a part of the decision making process; would go a long way towards building a solid bond thus making the relationship even stronger. We could all agree on “Budget cuts”, “Loss of programs and services” as well as “Expenses” continuing to rise as being top priorities, however; these issues can be easier handled with transparency, honesty and in a responsible way when you involve folks and explain things so everyone can understand them .
How will you help to resolve them?
Involvement. A few key specifics would be: Getting out of the boardroom, from behind the desk and into the community. I will be the Milford School Board member who also acts as an ambassador to the people, available anytime through social media or in person. Showing up and being available at “Parent nights”, “Fundraisers”, and “Community events” such as Bug and Bud festival, Freedom festival, Community night out and so many other great events in our town. Starting to build trust in our community means “walking the walk”. By making myself available whether at public or private meetings, having a cup of coffee or breakfast downtown, on to taking the time to say hello while out at the local hardware or grocery store; I want to hear what people have to say and get input from them on the issues which they feel are important, not just talk to them when we are facing a crisis or a problem.
2. What do you believe are the opportunities for the Milford School District ?
Through out the past few months I have had to opportunity to speak with many different people form all backgrounds and ages; in group settings and one-on-one’s, I even had a family approach me after Sunday Service to talk about programs to help with preparing their daughter for kindergarten. People want to be a part of the process and they feel like no one is listening or when they do get the chance to speak their voices are not taken seriously. People are our greatest resource, we need to listen.
How will you help the District to realize this?
Relationships. I understand that it is not about me, I’m not looking to place “School Board Member” on a resume to make myself look good in front of others, I’m not using this candidacy as a “Trophy” to say look what I did. I believe in giving back to the community and stepping up to the challenge in order to provide a better future for our Children, Parents, Teachers, Community and Economy. I will work harder, smarter and faster than is necessary to build a bridge of trust, transparency and honesty. I will set a new “Bar” of excellence for the people in our district and give a voice to the public. “It’s not just me in that seat if elected…it’s also the voices, thoughts and ideas of a community” –Michael Wells Candidate for Milford School Board-
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?
Clear Communication. The majority of people I have met and who know me are telling me they don’t mind paying a little bit more for a Great Schools and Excellent educational programs for all students. The problem is “They don’t know what is going on with the money the school district already has and “Why” the school district needs more money. This is simply a case of not communicating effectively so everyone can understand it clearly. Putting pride aside and building genuine relationships with the community and discussing these issues openly and honestly would be a fantastic start. As a Direct response: Some programs may or may not need to be changed, getting the information out to the public and speaking to them would be the responsible thing to do. One of our greatest resources is the people and citizens of this community, as a potential “School Board Member Elect” I intend on opening the doors for this resource to thrive. Lastly, we need to start looking at a responsible future plan of growth and development which takes us well into the next 10 years securely, as one lady explained to me “ It makes no sense we are reacting to issues after the fact, we should be anticipating what is coming and being proactive” Lady walking her two dogs on the Milford River Walk
4. What is your opinion of the recent referendum and tuition tax increases ?
Confused. My opinion is the district desperately needed the tuition tax increases. However; the story is… the tax payers got the short end of the stick. There are many rumors, a filing of sorts with the Attorney General of Delaware, supposed documents proving allegations of a possible misconduct and many others things concerning the tax increase and so on. I do not posses any of these documents, have not spoken to anyone directly other than reading the original filling and cannot comment on it as it stands. Someone somewhere knows something, truthful or otherwise. I think if the original tax increase numbers had changed in between educating the public and the actual vote, I would have encouraged the District to press the “Emergency Stop” button and then go out into the public and explain any additional information which has changed and why, then responsibly share that information with the entire community so together we make decisions based on the new information.
How will you interact with others that share an opposing position ?
Opposing positions are welcome. To get the best out of yourself and others you have to realize that you are not always right and your ideas may work for some and not others. This is just one of the reasons why it is vitally important to include the members of our community in information sharing as part of the relationship. We must get away from “one size fits all” thinking and welcome “Open mind” thinking. Always asking, “what are the best ideas for this situation”. A significant sign of strength is, knowing what you are good at and what you are not. Not just for me but anyone having an opposing position should be able to explain their position and back it up with facts…the people deserve it.
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?
Being Proactive. The Milford School District is not the only district facing this opportunity. Why aren’t we speaking with other school districts about this very issue as a starting point? The School District has over 10,000 people with a potential or 10,000 new fresh ideas, in addition to that, we have nearly 300 of the most celebrated educators and support staff in the state, lets include them in the conversation. What can we do right now to prepare? Develop a comprehensive long term plan for growth: possible topics of discussion should include: Redistricting, bonds and capital investments, integrating more digital technology, satellite campuses for specialized education, cooperating with local colleges and universities for classroom space, looking at the times children are in school to allow for shared usage and so much more, these are all wonderful ideas I have heard from speaking with people in the community.
6. What do you believe should be done with the former Middle School building ? How will you help to advance that idea?
Giving back. The former Middle School building is a tremendous asset to this community and offers a unique opportunity for this area. Some of the great ideas I have heard from folks in the community are to “Build a new school” on the middle school property, “replace parts of the building that cannot be repaired and build on additions” or repurpose it in a way that benefits the community. We can look at non-profit organizations, specialized education, non-traditional schooling and the arts, I think we should explore options other than office units. Community input on all levels is a must.As far as advancing the idea; we should always be thinking about how we can best serve our community, by taking proper care the community we can all benefit.
7. How can the District best recruit and retain quality teachers ? How can the Board of Education assist ?
Share the plan. Communicate to prospective future teachers about what the district does and what the future and growth plans are for our educators and our community. We understand they are looking for a career but in turn they need to know how they fit into the bigger picture for our future, not just right now with a position in education but 5 to 10 years from now. Talk about how together, we can benefit from them being in the school district while growing a stronger education system. The School Board can have a better understanding of how other areas of our community can benefit from this by meeting and forming relationships with city officials and community members to create meaningful partnerships. Having a conversation about the importance of positive growth, jobs, housing and opportunities will build a strong district with energetic families and opportunities for all. A strong district needs a strong community behind it.
The board can assist by going into the schools and get to know the teachers and support staff, forming relationships so we can understand their challenges and better address their needs. We can also offer unique incentives such as helping them with student loan repayment upon length of service committal, perhaps a signing bonus, relocation services, assistance with the process for educational accreditations, reduction of in class teaching hours (creation of a flexible schedule, teachers have a similar schedule to local colleges), more creative freedom over curriculum and recognition for accomplishments.
“More than money…People want to feel needed”
8. In what ways do you believe students and families can be better served ? How can the Board of Education assist ?
Listening. I believe the students and families can be better served by communicating with them on multiple channels, that may mean we communicate through text, e-mail, twitter, snap chat, instagram, facebook, you-tube and any other media we can talk with them and they can communicate back. We can also do a better job of being more accessible to all families; having concrete office hours open to the public, call back schedules, live broadcast via internet of meetings and events as well as regular continuous discussion of issues and accomplishments. Through use of social media we can keep parents and educators up to date and very well informed. On May 9th, lets not just make a decision lets make a difference.
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