On Tuesday, July 21, Rony Baltazar-Lopez won the Milford School Board election for the at-large seat with 57% (463 of 803) of the votes. He will serve another two years on the School Board, after being appointed to fill a vacancy.
“I felt relieved once 8 pm had arrived because running a campaign while being a part-time student, a current school board member, working full-time, and having to adjust to the new norm under the pandemic was mentally exhausting,” said Baltazar-Lopez. “I also felt very grateful to have had the opportunity to connect with so many families, teachers, students, and residents of the Milford School District to hear their priorities and concerns surrounding our education system.”
Baltazar-Lopez is 25 years old, born and raise din Milford. He graduated from Milford High School in 2013 and was appointed to Milford School Board in 2019, the youngest and first Hispanic member of the board. Baltazar-Lopez graduated from the University of Delaware in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and is currently pursuing his Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the same institution. He is currently the public information officer for Attorney General Kathy Jennings at the Delaware Department of Justice.
During the first term, his priorities include finding ways to increase test scores across the district and college and career readiness. “We can do this by expanding and enhancing the mentoring program, expanding tutoring sessions, reallocating existing funds based on student needs, and continue engaging our families to become active with their child’s education,” said Baltazar-Lopez.
He also intends to help increase mental health supports and resources. Baltazar-Lopez believes that expanding outreach and partnerships with other community agencies, encouraging current teachers and counselors to be trained in Mental Health First Aid, and increasing the number of presentations and assemblies to assure students that there is no shame in seeking help when they need it will assist in moving these initiatives forward.
Baltazar-Lopez believes that hiring an equity and inclusion staff member responsible for recruiting and retaining diverse members, establishing a committee that will make recommendations on board policies that need to change to promote inclusivity, and expanding incentives for qualified teachers to come and stay in the district will help the district increase teacher and staff diversity.
As the district prepares to make decisions for a school year under COVID-19 restrictions, Baltazar-Lopez would like to see school board policy that “allows us to continue adjusting to the growing concerns around COVID-19 and create mechanisms to allow us to react quicker should we be hit another crisis in the future. Such policy should have inputs from families, students, and teachers and should be equitable for all students.”
He is also concerned about the district’s disciplinary polices. “Unfortunately, minority students are more likely to be disciplined than white students,” he said. “This not only affects our graduation rates and our testing scores; it also affects our student morale.”