LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Give Thomas credit for Capital School District advancements

In a recent letter, a reader-writer referred to the Capital School District term of Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas as the “old regime,” and congratulated the current board members for not voting to rename the new stadium, and the new Professional Development Center, after Dr. Thomas. [“Capital made right decision on stadium name change,” Oct. 28]

As a board member from 2002 until 2007, I guess that qualifies me as a part of the “old regime.” OK, I’ll proudly accept that. Yes, it was with pride I served the district, and Dr. Thomas, during those somewhat tumultuous years, and as a member of what some have called the best board ever.

We took office facing an unfinished and over-budget renovation project. We faced the discovery of unknown asbestos and removed it, cut some construction expenses — including a new maintenance and professional development building — completed the renovation project, confronted several lawsuits, the unexecuted contracts of our employee associations and deteriorating school buildings.

Yes, we listened to the leadership of the superintendent, the business manager, and the human resources director as to how to address these situations. Yes, leadership. After all, where else does one get the information needed to make decisions?

Dr. Thomas compiled a “Master Plan” based on a study of the physical condition of every school. We accepted it, and pursued it. The state of Delaware was asked to fund our program, but they have every other district in the state to fund, so, we took what was offered.

We built a new South Dover Elementary School, renovated and improved our auditorium at Central Middle School, built a new gymnasium at Central Middle, acquired land for, and planned, a new Dover High School with the support of our district’s voters through a successful referendum. We executed all employee contracts, stabilized test scores and education results, and successfully settled or dismissed all lawsuits.

And we did it with the “leadership” of Superintendent Dr. Michael D. Thomas.

During my term on the board we were requested to name an athletic field after a successful coach. We decided not to because we felt this would just stimulate other similar requests, and we didn’t want to impose the desire, or memory, of one generation of schoolkids on future generations.

However, we wouldn’t have a new Professional Development Center, or a new Dover High School, nor its new stadium, nor a new South Dover, nor a refurbished Central auditorium if it weren’t for the leadership (there’s that word again) of Dr. Michael Thomas.

Wesley College named their stadium after a former president who brought improvements to that field. In our case, though, it’s done. The renaming is done. The issue is settled, but I’ll always believe that, at least, the Development Center could’ve been named after Dr. Thomas.

As I said, I’m proud to call myself a member of the “Old Michael Thomas Regime.” It was a good era for the Capital School District, an era of change, an era of improvement. The district has a new look, and we can all, and for decades to come, be grateful to Dr. Michael D. Thomas for it.

Doug Van Sant

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