Questions about Milford’s Failed Referendums

Alright so it’s been some time since I’ve sat down to write and propose a question that has been on my mind since last year. For those who don’t remember I spent 10 years on the Milford Board of Education and I continue to follow all things educational in Delaware and particularly in the Milford School District. I have waited for the dust to settle, but I’m sure I will ruffle a few feathers and upset a few folks as I’m about to discuss the last two failed referendum in Milford. First, let me state for the record I support our children and the top notch education they deserve, but I voted against these referendum as I felt the district mislead the community and was not completely truthful about the history.

As I said I was on the board from 2002 to 2012, which meant I was there with the last superintendent who passed a referendum and technically started the district down the road it now follows. Back when that superintendent sought to “sell” the tax increases he needed to build the Central Academy and Mispillion Elementary it was stated in the media that the Academy was a Replacement for the old Middle School. Even back then it was realized that the Middle School was not going to last long, and the discussions centered on closing it after the Academy was built. As the district had out grown its central office, and sections of the Middle School were already being used for District offices it was discussed how to keep the front Historic section of the school and turn it into the new Central offices then tearing off the worst back half of the building. Then since the District owned the property where the offices are currently they would be sold off and the funds used for the district to use in the new offices. The property where the Middle School is was still large enough the district could still place another 5-6th building on it in the future if growth required it. When I left the board in 2012 these were some of the last discussions I had with fellow board members, and also the possibility of having to build another Middle School on the current property which I was ok with it if circumstances warranted it.

Now jump forward to end of 2013 to early 2014 and discussions from the district are that it has grown to the point a new school needs to be built to help with over-crowding. I pulled the board meeting minutes and news articles (https://milfordlive.com/2013/12/17/middle-school-referendum-moves-forward/) that clearly point to the state agreeing to support the districts choice to replace the aging Middle School with a new 1200 student school plus an operations increase. The referendum would be for ~$16,000,000.00 on the local portion ($12,000,000.00 for school and $3-4,000,000.00 operations), but because no everyone in the district worked to sell the idea it failed in March 2014. So after this effort failed how did we move from a 1200 student Middle School that the State said would fit on the property that the district owned, to a 1400 student High School that the district KNEW would not fit, to going out for a referendum requiring the purchase of new land, and leaving a boarded up eye sore where a school once stood. How did the powers that be in the district today think that asking for ~$25,000,000.00 was going to be any easier to sell to the folks in Milford than ~$16,000,000.00 was back in March 2014?

The current financial health of the state and in particularly education is questionable throughout the state as we continue to see Delaware’s citizens struggle to make ends meet, and with 50-60% of the students in districts relying on state/federal assistance how can their parents be asked to pay higher taxes? The next group you could not “sell” with this last referendum was those folks who have come to retire here in Delaware (http://delawarebusinessdaily.com/2015/06/delaware-tops-list-in-places-to-retire-ranking-from-kiplingers/) with its low tax rates, and protections for pensions. Finally, those like myself who feel education is not about the buildings, and that until they find a way to increase the tax base in the state so we can spread the cost out; all the districts will continue to struggle to meet the needs of our next generation.  As the Milford District will need to go out again for a referendum to at least meet their operational needs I have one comment to those charged with oversight of the District, “Ask for what you need and not what you want!”

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First post having re-defined my blog based on my New Direction

My new direction and what I've been up to.

My new direction and what I’ve been up to. Check out my new web page: www.garywolfe.net

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Link to a new direction for me wish me luck.

http://www.facebook.com/FriendsForGaryWolfe

Wanted to just add a link to my page I set up for my new direction I’ve taken and looking forward to posting more here as I get rolling with this.

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http://machinedesign.com/article/more-green-cards-more-h-1b-visas-1106

As we continue to push STEM education look where the industry is going.

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Know Your Candidate: Wolfe on attracting jobs to Sussex County – Milford, DE – Milford Beacon

Know Your Candidate: Wolfe on attracting jobs to Sussex County – Milford, DE – Milford Beacon.

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Area candidates square off at Milford Beacon debate – Milford, DE – Milford Beacon

Area candidates square off at Milford Beacon debate – Milford, DE – Milford Beacon.

Round 1 down and now we move to Sussex Central HS next Wednesday 10/16 at 6pm.

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Been away for awhile as I work on new path.

I have to apologize as I had taken a break from my blog as I work on a new path for myself. When I finished my term on the Milford Board I was not sure if I would have a path, but many have helped me find a way. With the help of Ms. Betty Deacon, my campaign manager, and many contributors I was able to get my name on the ball0t for the general election in November. Now I work to get out door to door and make sure folks know my name and face in hopes to make the changes I want to on the county council. My opponent believes that the county is doing just fine and that balancing the budget or giving back a few dollars is how you help the people of the county move forward.

In my time going around the county visiting folks I have seen the need for many changes that the council could be a part of if it looked closely. Some of the things I see on my to-do list if I get elected include:

– Working to better balance the growth within the county so we still retain the beauty of the county while moving it forward.

– Improve the infrastructure throughout the county thereby helping to entice more businesses to the county and improving the economy.

– Looking at how to work with other elected officials from all levels to improve the quality of life in Sussex County for all its citizens from our youngest generation to our seniors.

-Finally, look at how I can work to make Sussex a Green county and advance the ideas of sustainability within the county.

Many who read my blog may not be within my district and able to vote for me on November 6th, but I can use your support through word of mouth and making sure you get out an vote for those you can vote for.

Posted in Delaware, Delaware Politics | 4 Comments

$21.5 Million in grants to help Low-Income students take AP tests, but what about the middle-class?

http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/215-million-grants-awarded-43-states-cover-fees-charged-low-income-students-taki

The Link above takes the reader to the US Dept. ED website and discusses how Delaware will be one the the states receiving grants to help cover the cost of Low Income students taking the AP exams offered in our public schools. Many high schools including my own Milford High offer several AP classes to their students who qualify for the advanced programs, and each of these finishes with a final exam that costs the taker (or parents) approx. $45.00/ per exam taken. My concerns with these grants is not in how the funding is spent or who may be helped by them, but in that Delaware Public Schools are making this test a requirement for passing the classes.

Therefore, families who don’t meet the income requirements but who are still struggling with maybe two parents working just to make ends meet are required to foot the bill for these required test without assistance! In my mind that is basically another school tax being laid on the backs of the working middle-class, and what adds to the frustration is that if the students are not prepared by the schools properly the results are not acceptable to the colleges. However, the private company that sells the test to the schools (by the way its the same one who sells the SAT s) still collects its fees whether the students see any benefit from taking the test. If Public Schools are requiring students to take the test as part of the class for a grade then like text books should not the cost for all students be covered?

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Questions posed to me about why I’m running for County Council

  • Although I did not speak or answer questions at last nights Candidate Night I was asked some questions by the Delmarva Broadcasting group so I am including my answers to those questions here:
    Why are you seeking this office?
    The reason I’m running for County Council is building on my experience on the school board, I want to assist in bringing a new vision to the County Council to help improve the future of our children, seniors, and all county residents. I believe I need to step up to further serve my community. I want to work with willing council members to establish a better relationship between the state and the county in order to bring more resources and jobs to the center and western parts of the county. The 2nd Council District stretches from the town of Georgetown to Greenwood and up to Milford. I will be talking with the officials and people in the towns and the farmers in the middle in order to get the support I need to move this part of the county forward. I want to work with the other council members to again increase farmland preservation, get better broadband service, push to locate a 4-year college in Sussex County, and look at expansion of the existing rail lines in Sussex County.

    What should be done to improve public safety?
    There are two parts to Public Safety that falls within the Counties realm one is emergency services both fire and medical, and the other is police protection. Looking at the first part we can talk about continued support for both the counties Paramedic service, and the local volunteer ambulance and fire departments that are the backbone of the emergency services. To go along with this as we are planning for the future and looking at new communities need to make sure these services are close enough to the communities that a citizen is not waiting precious minutes to get a response and the care they need. Now looking at the other side of the coin, Police protection means working with State and Local Police agencies to ensure we have enough of both throughout the county to Protect and Serve the folks both inside and outside the municipalities in Sussex. A note would be that as I look forward to answering questions on economics, I state a truth I’ve heard said many ways and that is “an educated, working person is less inclined to have issues with the law.”

    What should be done to improve the economy?The economy and jobs in Sussex County continues to be a talking point for many, but I’m still waiting to hear their answer. From my time on the school board I know we are teaching our future generations that STEM and Technology are where we need to be. However, in Sussex we have some obstacles that keep those futures away from us. The infrastructure has to be updated to the 21st century and includes things like, greater Broadband access, and improvements to transportation. Delaware and Sussex County sits in the middle of a major technology hub located just across the state lines from us, and if we could entice them to move to a lower tax based area with the right services to meet their growing needs we could see economic growth. The key however is to make sure this growth is managed correctly and we don’t lose site of the environment.

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Wolfe deserves support for Sussex seat

Wolfe deserves support for Sussex seat. I had the privilege of working with the author, C. Thomas Bowman, when he was the Director of Personnel for the Milford School District.

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