Contested school board races loom in 4 Sussex districts

SUSSEX COUNTY — Contested races loom in four of six Sussex County public school districts in the 2019 school board elections.
Tuesday, May 14 voters go to the polls to decide three of four contested board of education seats in the Indian River School District, three expiring terms in Cape Henlopen and one seat each in the Seaford and Delmar districts.

There are no elections in Woodbridge and Laurel districts.

Incumbent Steve C. McCarron is unchallenged in Woodbridge and Laurel school board incumbent Brad C. Lee is also unopposed.
Voting for eligible residents is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters must be bona fide residents of the school district, a United States citizen and 18 years of age or older. Proof of identity will be required.

All terms begin July 1, 2019.

Indian River candidates
Longtime board member Dr. Donald Hattier of Dagsboro and challenger Scott W. Smith of Frankford are seeking the District 4 term, while in District 5 incumbents W. Scott Collins of Selbyville and Derek Cathell of Frankford face challenge from Jeff Evans of Selbyville.
Dr. Heather Statler of Millsboro (District 3) is unchallenged and will retain her seat on the IRSD board.
All terms are five years.

Polling locations for District 4 voters are Lord Baltimore Elementary School in Ocean View and Indian River High School in Dagsboro.
Voting for District 5 is at Selbyville Middle School.

District 4
Dr. Donald G. Hattier

Education, employment, civic, community involvement, etc.: VPI 1975 Biology, minor in History; 1986 National College of Chiropractic; member Rotary international 1990-2006, past President, member Lions international since 2006, member Boy Scouts of America since at least 2005, still troop Quartermaster and sit on Eagle Boards.; c-director Harbor Defenses of the Delaware Living History Association.

Previous school board experience: Since 2002 as an IRSD board member; also Finance and Building & Grounds committee member.

Why are you seeking this board seat?

Challenges with the numbers of kids and needing new structures. I have been through the largest rebuild in this district (2002-2008) and am well versed in the finances and possibilities. Getting more education opportunities for kids wanting to work and not just college. Helping the district utilize Ingram’s Pond, a leader in the state outdoor possibilities, and supporting arts, drama and music. There is always enough support for sports.

If elected what do you hope to achieve as a member of district’s governing body?

A careful expansion program, being able to review policies and continue to benefit all kids as this district has benefited my children. Making things better for those with special needs. A tough population at times to serve.

What makes you the best candidate?
Experience, being a school board member means going to class to learn the bizarre nature of government funding and spending. What laws apply and how, what is possible and what isn’t. I have 18 years of getting to know the players and their strengths etc., and how to get the best cooperation.

Most prominent issues facing public education?
Getting all kids to recognize their own potential. Sheer numbers and not just illegal foreign speakers, accommodating all the foreign speakers and the huge academic challenge they bring. Working to change funding sources so the state realizes what they are doing by allowing and encouraging certain classes of high need individuals in. Space, changing testing to where it makes sense.
Working to get those kids who either don’t want to go to college or can’t to have better job training while in the schools. Sussex tech is returning to its roots, but only reaches 1250 kids we have that many in our schools as well.

Scott Smith
Education, employment, civic, community involvement, etc.: I work for a local non-profit and work 20 plus years in the not-profit organizations.
Previous school board experience: No School Board experience.

Why you are seeking this board seat?
A chance to serve the community.

If elected what do you hope to achieve as a member of district’s governing body?
Help out any way that would be beneficial to the schools and community.

What makes you the best candidate?
I will serve the best I can.

Most prominent issues facing public education: Budget and over-crowding.
District 5

Derek Cathell
Education, employment, civic, community involvement, etc.: I graduated from Indian River High School in 1992 and attended Delaware Technical and Community College where I obtained an associate degree in agricultural sciences. I am employed by the Delaware State Police since 1998 and I am assigned as a detective in the Major Crimes Unit out of Troop 4 in Georgetown. I have served in several capacities during my time with the State Police to include patrol, the Governor’s Task Force, the Financial Crimes Unit, the Property Unit, and the Major Crimes Unit. I am a member of the Bay Shore Community Church and serve on several committees as well as volunteer on several teams within the church.

Previous school board experience?
I have served on the school board since January of 2018.

Why are you seeking this board seat?
I have been serving on the board for a little over 15 months. I have learned a great deal about the operations of the district during this time but feel I have much more to learn and would like to continue in this position for the next five years. I received my education through the district and both of my children will as well. My wife has been employed in the district for several years in different positions. I have a genuine concern for our district as a whole and want the very best for our students and staff.

If elected what do you hope to achieve as a member of district’s governing body?
I want to help to keep our district moving in a positive direction. I want to help work on our issues of overcrowding and growth within the district. We need to continue to recruit, hire, and retain the highly qualified employees and provide our students with the best education possible.

What makes you the best candidate?
I have a genuine concern for a district and want the best for all of our students and staff. I have never been involved in education but feel I have a good common sense approach to solving problems.”
Most prominent issues facing public education?
Without a doubt the biggest issue facing our district is growth and overcrowding particularly in the northern end of the district. The school board and district leadership have been working together to try and find solutions to deal with this issue.
Responses were not received from W. Scott Collins and Jeff Evans.

Cape Henlopen candidates
Two candidates are seeking each of the three terms that expire June 30.
Incumbent and current board president Alison J. Myers and Calvin D. Jackson II are vying for a Member-at-Large seat; incumbent Andrew W. Lewis and Janet E. Maull-Martin are candidates for the five-year term in Area C; and William W. Collick and Charles A. Mowll are seeking another Member-at-Large seat (which is a one-year term).
Polling locations: Rehoboth Elementary, Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes and Mariner Middle School in Milton.
Member At-Large
Calvin Jackson
Education, employment, civic, community involvement, etc.: I was born in Washington, D.C. and graduated from Columbia High School in Decatur, Georgia. Education has always been very important to our family. I received a bachelor’s degree in English/Journalism from Tougaloo College (Tougaloo, Mississippi) and did additional graduate work at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, Minnesota).
I worked at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland for almost 35 years in the Office of the Director, Office of Communications and Public Liaison. The Office of the Director is the central office, responsible for providing guidance to all 27 institutes and centers that comprise the NIH. When I retired, I was the Deputy Associate for Communications and Public Liaison (one of the highest communications positions at the NIH). Working in immediate office of the NIH Director required that I worked with and collaborated with various organizations both within and outside the NIH (including the White House, State Department, Secret Service, foreign embassies, and major media outlets in the U.S. and abroad). In addition to my federal career, I was also employed at WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C. as an assistant producer for the weekend news for three years.
I was also a member of the Father’s Circle at the Montgomery County (MD) high school my children attended. The “Father’s Circle” was formed when school administers sought to address the situation of an increasingly high number of African American male students being suspended, becoming academically ineligible to graduate, and lagging in scores on the Maryland State Assessment tests. The Father’s Circle worked with the administration and staff of the high school to improve the performance and experience of students.
In addition, I have also served on several boards. I was the first donor selected to serve on the Board of Directors for the National Marrow Donor Program, a nonprofit international organization that operates the Be The Match Registry, the largest and most diverse bone marrow registry in the world. I also served on the Executive Committee for the Montgomery County (MD) chapter of the NAACP.
Since retiring to Lewes I have become actively involved in several organizations. I am on the Steering Committee of the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice where I’m serving as the co-chair of the Communications Committee and as a member of the Outreach Committee. I’m also an active member of the Psi Iota chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. In addition, I am a member of the Minority Community Liaison Committee. I joined the Minority Community Liaison Committee when parents expressed concerns after several incidents in 2017. The Committee has been working with the Cape Henlopen School District to increase teacher diversity, while also looking at the academic achievement gap and inequities in school discipline.
Previous school board experience? None.
Why you are seeking this board seat?
I am seeking this board seat to ensure that ALL students in the Cape Henlopen school district have access to the same quality education, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or zip code.
If elected what do you hope to achieve as a member of district’s governing body? If elected, I will work diligently to improve communication between the school board and members of the community, work to close the achievement gap between students of color and other students and continue to look at disparities in out of school and in school suspensions.
What makes you the best candidate?
My entire career and public service accomplishments have been predicated on my ability to collaborate with people of diverse backgrounds and often opposing viewpoints to find solutions to problems. I will bring that same steadfast, unwavering ability to the school board. As a recent transplant to Delaware, I will also bring new ideas, experiences, and perspectives to addressing some of the issues facing our school system, while continuing the successful endeavors.
Most prominent issues facing public education?
The top three challenges facing the Cape Henlopen School District are closing the achievement gap, the lack of diversity among teaching staff and administrators, and improving communication between schools, parents and students.
Reducing achievement gaps requires sustained coordination among administrators, teachers, parents, and students. Teachers’ expectations also have a significant impact on student achievement. Low teacher expectations result in a self-fulfilling prophecy, i.e.; significant achievement gaps between minority and non-minority students.
Evidence shows that the majority of students can achieve at high levels if they are taught at high levels. The school district should also provide supplementary academic programs for all children. The lack of academic programs during summer vacation negatively impacts the academic success of poor children.
Children from higher socio-economic backgrounds participate in learning activities during the summer, while poor children do not. Other strategies include providing mentors for “at-risk” students and involving high school students in community activities and service. Finally, support must be consistent and sustained to maintain gains.
Increasing the percentage of minority teachers in the workforce is not just important and beneficial for minority students. Students of ALL racial backgrounds can benefit from a diverse teacher workforce that represents the nation’s overall demographics. While the district has shown progress in hiring minority teachers, much more still needs to be done.
I would recommend continuing the develop relationships and holding recruitment fairs at Minority- Serving Institutions (MSIs) or Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Asian American and Native American Pacific-Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), as well as traditional programs.
The district needs to continue supporting Grow Your Own programs that recruit teacher candidates from nontraditional populations. The district also needs to identify and work with minority paraeducators to help them fulfill requirements on the state’s alternative routes to certification program. Once minority teachers are hired, the district needs to take steps to retain them.
The district can support beginning minority teachers by offering comprehensive induction in their first years of teaching. Induction often includes being matched with a veteran mentor teacher and can also include seminars, classroom assistance, time to collaborate with other teachers, and coaching and feedback from experienced teachers.
Parent involvement has a strong, direct impact on student achievement and teacher motivation. Schools that communicate bad news about student performance more often than recognizing students’ excellence discourage parent involvement by making parents feel they cannot effectively help their children.
As a board member I would encourage more parental engagement which informs parents about the school’s academic programs, how they work and how their student can benefit. I would also support more personal contact with parents; including in person conferences, telephone calls, and curriculum nights.
Communication should include weekly or monthly folders of student work sent home for parent review and comment.
The school board needs to communicate with parents by having representation at PTA meetings that are held when most parents are available to attend. I would also encourage the board to hold listening sessions with parents in their communities.
A response from Alison Myers was not received.
Area C
Andy Lewis
Education, employment, civic, community involvement, etc.: I have a bachelors and master’s in chemical engineering from the Universities of Delaware and Idaho. I have worked for Lewis Research, a global leader in wear and friction testing of plastics, for the past 24 years. In addition to my school board work, I have been involved in Little League since 2001 including seven years as Lewes Little League president and 8 years on District 3 staff including the last 2 as District Administrator. I am also the VP of GMT Games, a historical board game company, and chairman of the board for the Boardgame Players Association.
Previous school board experience?
On the Cape Henlopen school board for the past 10 years.
Why you are seeking this board seat?
I want to continue my work on the board to improve the education for ALL students in our district and am running again as people tell me my work makes a difference.
If elected what do you hope to achieve as a member of district’s governing body?
I do not have any specific agenda items. I want to continue to assist the Cape Henlopen School District grow in its efforts to provide the best education in the country for ALL our students.
What makes you the best candidate?
I bring a unique perspective to the school board as the only engineer on the board or running. I tend to focus on numbers, trends, and future plans more than other members as this is what comes naturally to me. Therefore, the budget, enrollment areas, buildings, and programs are where I comment more often. I rely on facts and data in my decision making.
Most prominent issues facing public education?
Funding. Growth. Achievement Gap. Growth and Funding. With the support of our community, we are addressing it in the most basic way by building, renovating, or expanding our facilities to house our students. However, this is only one aspect of the issue. We also have to address the funding of teachers, staff, and programs which grow with the number of students. We are going to need to ask our community for more funding. The key is for the board and district to be transparent and clearly define and explain our needs, so the community understands the investment we are asking them to make.
Achievement Gap. This is not a new issue. We must continue to work to close the gap by maintaining it as a top priority. In addition, we must continue the efforts which have been implemented but evaluate the effectiveness of these different methods and shift focus to those methods which provide greater rates of success and where possible expand those efforts if new funding can be found. Finally, we must research and implement new methods which have proven successful at reducing the gap.
A response from Janet Maull-Martin was not received.
Member At-Large
William Collick
Education, employment, civic, community involvement, etc.: Cape Henlopen High School graduate- 1970; AA Degree – Wesley College; BS Degree – University of Delaware; Masters’ Degree – Wilmington University; Relevant employment: 43 years in education; five years teaching, 20 years college coaching/administration, 18 years high school coaching and administration.
Why you are seeking this board seat?
Desire to stay connected in education
Most prominent issues facing public education?
Maintaining district’s budget while facing raising cost and cuts in education: Student enrollment and the ability to serve needs of all students: School climate and the ability to hire and maintain an excellent, engaging, and diverse staff. The district must be able to find ways to do more with less, while projecting future enrollment in order to maintain workable class sizes and school space. The ability to hire a diverse and engaging staff will promote academic excellence, code of conduct adherence, as we seek to address the needs of all students.
In order to close the achievement gap, the district must target and focus on the needs of students who are deficient in certain areas. We must do this at an early juncture (kindergarten) in the lives of students. We must place our most needy students with our best instructors, as well as placing our most needy students in a mentoring program.
A response from Charles Mowll was not received.
Seaford candidates
Dara L. Savage and Shawn T. Garrahan are seeking the five-year term.
Voting is at Seaford High School.

Shawn T Garrahan
Education, employment, civic, community involvement, etc.: I’m a Blue Jay. I was raised here in Seaford attended the Seaford school district where I graduated and went to attend the University of Delaware and Wilmington College. I currently am a Regional Vice President for EMG Acquisitions with my office based right here in Seaford. I’m involved in everything my Daughters do from Nanticoke Little League, dance academy and gymnastics. I plan to devote my time outside work and family to one thing and that is serving as a Seaford School Board member and being “An Ear for any, a voice for all!

Previous school board experience?
I have not had the pleasure serving on any school board yet but look forward to the upcoming opportunity to change that.

Why you are seeking this board seat?
I am seeking a seat on the board for Seaford School District to make change, better our district and support our teachers, staff and students to make The Blue Jays a district of choice and a environment for all to thrive and foster a strong culture of education and support. I’m running to be “An Ear for any, a voice for all.

If elected what do you hope to achieve as a member of district’s governing body?
If elected I will be advocate for the voice of our community, teacher, staff and students! Education is changing, times are changing as well as our community and as a young professional who is truly passionate about Seaford schools and the community. I feel I can jumpstart the relationship between the staff and administration as well as the community and bring Seaford’s “Blue Jays” to a strong culture of pride, transparency and accountability.

What makes you the best candidate?
I come with no ties to the district at a professional level past or current. I come as a member of the community, a “Jay” parent and a passion for the community who wants to see every student, parent, teacher, staff member and community member have a voice in the School District. The education system as a whole is changing, the way students learn are changing and it’s time we change with it! Serving as board member is more than meetings and policy making, it’s about being connected with the community, and the individuals too which it serves and that’s ALL of them not just a selected group. I plan to devote my time to being active in the District and being available to those to whom I would be representing and serving. I work in the community, I live in the community, and hope to serve the community on the Seaford School Board.

Most prominent issues facing public education?
Seaford school district faces many issues. Our most prominent issue I feel is the lack of communication, transparency and accountability. In the past we have failed to keep our word and trust in the community and staff and we must fix that! We must hold ourselves accountable to our community and our district and the people we serve. The board answers to the educators, students and community it serves, and its job is to support them and make decisions based on the needs of them and it’s time we get back to doing just that!

Dara Laws Savage
Education, employment, civic, community involvement, etc.: Seaford High School graduate; BA from University of Delaware, M.Ed in Teaching: Learning and Technology; Early College High School at Delaware State University since 2015; English 9 teacher, Instructional Coach, Lead Mentor Teacher, Student Activities Coordinator, Advisory Coordinator, PLC facilitator; Certified Citizen’s Budget Oversight Committee member – 2015 to present; Seaford High School teacher – 13 years; Seaford Teacher of the Year – 2006; Early College High School at Delaware State University Teacher of the Year – 2016; member of Mt. Calvary AME Church, the Eastern Shore AFRAM Committee, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Royal Pearls of Sussex and team leader for Girl Trek Seaford Strollers.

Previous school board experience? No previous membership

Why you are seeking this board seat?
It’s very simple — I am a Bluejay. I was educated here, my daughter graduated from here, and I taught here for 13 years.
As a teacher in the district, my sphere of influence was limited to the school where I taught, but as a school board member, I can serve as a voice for over 3,000 students and all the faculty and staff members in all our schools. In 2015, I left the nest to join the Early College High School at Delaware State University for the opportunity to serve learners on a different level. This allowed me to grow as a professional and to gain resources and experiences that I can use to help make Seaford even better. I am proud to be a Bluejay and now I am in a position to give back on another level.

If elected what do you hope to achieve as a member of district’s governing body?

  1. To ensure a true culture of learning. Learning and academics should be the heart of every district. Sports and other extra-curriculars are important parts of the school experience, but when the daily culture and common language is focused squarely on learning, not tests, students are more engaged, teachers are more engaged, and school is a great place to be. Learning happens everywhere, including athletic arenas, and ensuring that learning is truly the focus will make all school experiences that much more rewarding. Securing funding to make sure there are supports in place for that culture of learning is an important role of the board.
  2. To strengthen ties to the community. PTA memberships only represent a fraction of the student body nationwide. Some may not clearly understand how to be involved. Some possible ways to address this disconnect are to meet stakeholders outside the school building and using social media to reach stakeholders to give them clear, distinct ways to become involved. Community perception is cyclically related to the lack of involvement.
    Parents and community members tend not to want to be involved because of what they have heard about some of the schools. Dispelling negative perceptions would take a concerted effort of flooding positive news. Our local papers, social media, community organization meeting, etc., are all great places to start. Building strong relationships between the board and the community will only strengthen ties and increase community involvement.
  3. To clearly communicate with and hear from stakeholders
    Reach people where they are – attend different organizational meetings, create social media posts, videos, regular spots in the newspaper, city festivals, city council and county council meetings, home visits with staff, kindergarten registration. Hear from stakeholders – public participation at the board meetings is only going to be taken advantage of by a few people, and it is most often negative.
    A system where stakeholders can actually communicate with the board to express concerns, share ideas, give accolades, etc., and the get feedback would be a way for folks to feel heard.
    What makes you the best candidate?
    The key priorities of the Seaford School Board revolve around supporting and developing current teachers, recruiting new teachers, maintaining facilities, and building relationships with the community. With 24 years of classroom teaching, I have a unique vantage point from which I can offer resources, experts, and personal experiences to help Seaford School District continue to grow in these areas.
    I am a National Faculty Member for PBL Works where I provide professional development to teachers across the country and as the Lead Mentor teacher and Instructional Coach at the Early College High School at Delaware State University, I help new educators learn the art of teaching. Working with finance experts on the Citizen’s Budget Oversight Board, I have experience in justifying necessary school expenditures and projecting budgets. I am a member of the Delaware Secretary of Education’s Teacher Advisory Board where I am able to be a voice for educators on things that matter most. Additionally, I serve on the Department of Education Literacy Cadre and Digital Learning Cadre where I have access to resources and experts in the field of education.
    Most prominent issues facing public education?
  4. Funding. 2. Community/Parent involvement. 3. Community perception. All three of these issues can be addressed with a plan to create and pass policies that support the achievements previously explained.
    Delmar candidates
    Incumbent Jason R. Coco and William D. Mills are seeking that five-year board term.
    Polling location is Delmar High School.

William Mills
Education, employment, civic, community involvement, etc.: I have been teaching middle school science since 1996, all but one year at Delmar Middle and Senior High school. I have held positions as lead science teacher and department chair for the Delmar School District and was selected as the 1999-2000 Delmar Teacher of the Year and the Maryland Veterans of Foreign Wars, District 16, Teacher of the Year for 2009-2010.

I also served three years on the selection committee for the Delaware State Teacher of the Year. In 2004, I was a finalist in NASA’s Teacher in Space Program which afforded me the opportunity to be a NASA spokesperson serving as a member of NASA’s Network of Educator Astronaut Teachers. I retired from Delmar in 2018 and currently teach middle and high school science at Salisbury Christian School in Salisbury, Maryland.

I also have an extensive military background. I enlisted in U.S. Army Intelligence in 1980, where I served over six years before supporting security and intelligence agencies at the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Defense’s Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.
In 1992, I joined the U.S. Air Force Reserve and since that time have served as an Intelligence and Operations Officer at Dover AFB, DE. I deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and have been awarded three Air Force Meritorious Service medals, two Air Force Commendation medals and two Army Commendation medals, as well as several other awards and decorations. I am currently a Lieutenant Colonel and serve as the Chief of 512th Airlift Wing Intelligence.

My major accomplishments include acceptance into Honeywell’s Space Academy for Educators at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, completing a month long environmental research project in Costa Rica, and competing in the 2008 U.S. Marine Corps Marathon. I hold a Master of Science Degree in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Science Education from Delaware State University.

Previous school board experience? None.
Why you are seeking this board seat: After retiring from the Delmar School District, I wanted to continue to serve this great community. Being a member of the school board is the perfect opportunity to utilize my skills and knowledge to address concerns shared by students, teachers, and parents.
If elected what do you hope to achieve as a member of district’s governing body?

My primary focus will be on students’ health, safety, educational success, and preparation for being a productive member of society. This will be achieved through holding the school’s employees accountable, that financial planning and budget implementation are being used responsibly, and that community concerns (students, district employees, parents, etc.) are appropriately addressed.

What makes you the best candidate?
My experience in working in the educational system for over 20 years, maintaining a leadership position in the military for over 15 years, my passion for students’ well-being and my excellent relationship with the community makes my candidacy highly qualified for this position. I have always maintained high standards of integrity and ethical practices and will use these attributes for the benefit of the community.

Most prominent issues facing public education:
I believe the main challenges that face my district include the potential of losing our Maryland students to the Wicomico County School District due to redistricting, continued improvement of the morale and welfare of the district’s teachers, and the appropriate use and accumulation of funding for facilities, technology and personnel. Lobbying with local representatives and working cooperatively with state agencies to agree on a viable solution to keep Maryland students in the district would continue to uphold the values and traditions we hold dearly.

Potential focus groups to actively address teacher concerns should be implemented to address critical needs and potential solutions, such as class size, special needs services, and teacher quality of life issues. Lastly, effective efforts in coordinating with state agencies and financial supporters to increase our information technology infrastructure for student learning and achievement as well as providing funding in critical maintenance and teacher compensation capacities should be considered.

A response from Jason Coco was not received. The candidate could not be reached via phone or email.

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