Purcell to Serve on Milford School Board

Milford will see six candidates running for the Milford School Board in the upcoming election, to be held on Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Judith C. Purcell, who is running unopposed as the lone candidate for the Area D seat, which will serve for five years, will be sworn alongside the victor of the At-Large seat election on May 9.

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

Awareness, communication and understanding of what’s happening in the schools is a challenge to overcome. We should work to gain support of the entire educational community with strong accountability and fiscal transparency. I believe that resolution comes in ”Marketing the Good News” which means to highlight all the efforts that our students, teachers and schools are under going to be a number one educational system in the state, to the community. We need to provide social and emotional supports to our students in order to promote academic excellence. No tree can grow appropriately without the needed food, water and sunlight.

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

Our district has the potential to be a first class destination for families. The students we educate need to embrace their community and we need to embrace them. I bring many years of experience working in the classroom, mentoring teachers and with youth groups, which gives me greater understanding of those in this district. It is important to listen, understand and reflect on our needs and I will be that listener.

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? 

It is times like these where a strong community such as Milford can come together to support our school district. I will continuously reach out to my constituents to determine their needs and work with my fellow board members to determine the best path forward. Any cuts should be vetted with the public, understanding that we will need to approach this problem as a shared sacrifice. We must prioritize our cuts and balance them with equitable service delivery. In evaluating the programs we need to cut, we must rely on impact data, public opinion and common sense.

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

Image and transparency is the key to understanding. I think the public was not educated or prepared for the referendum and tuition increases. As a retired teacher and parent that put three children and now a grandchild through the District, I am passionate about being as informed as possible on issues in the schools. I will be dedicated to being a true representative and voice of those in my district regarding matters such as financial decisions. It’s about listening to the community and communicating with the community that will move us forward.

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?

In my 30 years in the classroom, I have seen how overcrowding of schools affects the educational process and put unfair pressure and expectations on the teachers. Not only is it an educational issue but, it is also a security issue with crowding in the hallways and cafeteria. There are buildings such as the previous Milford Middle School that can be repurposed. We need to look at what resources the community already has to determine the best path forward. We need to lobby DOE and the state for more flexibility in anticipating future growth of schools. Right now the state caps the size of schools not allotting for true population growth.

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

Discussions and debates have been going on for years. It is time for action. I taught history within the walls of Milford Middle School. My classroom was filled with stories on rich heritage as the students sat in a building filled with historical purpose. I fully understand the importance of this building but also understand that we need to look to the future and at the current needs of our community. As a representative of Area D, I will actively listen to my constituents to bring their ideas to the table. The time to act is now. A solution must involve our city, businesses and constituents. Having this property sit vacant is a waste of great resources for our community.

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

We as a school board need to be in the buildings observing and listening to our teachers and administration. We need to provide teachers with the best environment that is possible. 15 years ago we were a sought after district. Students were knocking our doors down to get in. We then became less competitive and sought after than other districts. As a school board, we need to gather insights on what is really going on in front lines of the classrooms to determine what services need to be provided. The more knowledge we have about obstacles that are in place will assist in determining the best plan of action. Whether it be increased wages, more mentoring and professional development or opportunities for veteran teachers. It’s about listening to those that our decision will ultimately affect.

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

LISTENING, LISTENING AND taking ACTION. I believe students and families can be better served by having more open discussions on decisions that are on the table. Our discussions need to go beyond just school board meetings. We also need to be the voice of the community when it comes to any legislation that may affect our district. We need to be active with other school boards to lobby DOE and state for school finances, reform and more flexibility for decision making at the local level. We need to be that “Village” that supports and a School board that becomes the cornerstone for growth and knowledge.

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