Capital school board candidates trade views at forum

From left, Sharese Paylor, Peter Servon and Ralph Taylor are vying for a seat on the Capital School District Board of Education. (Delaware State News photo by Eleanor La Prade)

From left, Sharese Paylor, Peter Servon and Ralph Taylor are vying for a seat on the Capital School District Board of Education. (Delaware State News photo by Eleanor La Prade)

DOVER — A few dozen people heard firsthand from Capital school board candidates at a forum in the Central Middle School auditorium Tuesday night.

At the forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Kent County and the Central Middle School PTO, audience members submitted questions on a variety of issues, from parent involvement to marketing.

Three candidates are vying for a seat on the school board: Sharese C. Paylor, Ralph L. Taylor and Peter Servon.

The seat is an at-large, five-year term position now held by Kay Dietz-Sass, who isn’t seeking re-election. The election is on Tuesday.

Ms. Paylor works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the program compliance branch chief for the Rural Development Civil Rights program. She is pursuing a dual master’s degree in public administration and human resource management.

Peter Servon said he settled in Dover after serving in the military, and that he has been teaching in Delaware for 17 years.

And as a teacher, he said, “I know what it’s like to be on the ground floor.”

Mr. Taylor, a retired Dover police officer, worked with schools for 10 years already as a DARE officer, or drug abuse resistance education.

He has also been a youth coach for more than 30 years. He now owns a small business, which he said will help bring “a business man’s perspective” to the table.

With the district poised for a change in leadership, including a new superintendent when Dr. Michael Thomas retires this summer, some questions dealt with how candidates would make hiring decisions and handle the transition.

“Some of the things that happen, we can’t control them,” Mr. Taylor said. “We just have to trust that we’re going to bring in good solid sound people that have a vested interested in our community just like we do.”

With the change in administration, “…leadership is paramount for the Capital School District,” Ms. Paylor said.

Mr. Servon agreed that the bottom line is leadership. He echoed Ms. Paylor — “The board’s really set up for oversight,” he said.

Another question touched on the board’s decision to vote down the superintendent’s recommendation to renew the contract for Dover High School principal Dr. Evelyn Edney.

Mr. Servon said the move was a tough to comment on because the board never explained why they made the vote.

He said that if board members feel right about their decision, they should share why they made it.

Sharese Paylor also said the board shouldn’t override Dr. Thomas, since he was the one who evaluated Dr. Edney’s performance.

Many of the first questions focused on testing in schools and the Common Core State Standards.

For Mr. Taylor, a set of common standards doesn’t work for every classroom.

Mr. Servon said the Common Core isn’t “something to be afraid of.”

“It’s just a standard that…students should be held to,” he said.

As for standardized testing, Ms. Paylor said that if anything is repetitive, it’s too much. With the new Smarter

Balanced assessments, she said “it’s too early to tell.”

Mr. Servon agreed there’s “way too much testing.”

“Students have to show that they can meet the standards because that’s how you show you’ve learned something, but to take all that classroom time away to do testing, it’s just more than is necessary,” he said.

Mr. Taylor also said testing should be done “moderately and balanced, with results that can be used right here in the community.”

“As far as (opting out), I think that’s a parent’s choice,” he said.


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