I was contacted by a Jamie-Leigh Bissett from the State News to provide some background and insight into my platform as I run for School Board in Milford. Below is my answers I forwarded to her, and if someone would like more then what appears here please leave me a comment.
1. Name: Gary Michael Wolfe I
2. Town in which you reside: Greenwood (mailing address) Milford School District
3. Age: 48
4. Family/children: Married to Jacqueline A Wolfe, Sons: Gary M Wolfe II (20), Christopher A Wolfe (20), and Scott J Wolfe (18).
5. Education: Associates in Lab Technology at Del Tech Georgetown, BS in Biology from Salisbury University.
6. Job/Career: Employed 24 years by Merck Animal Health (formerly Intervet, inc.) in Millsboro Del as a Production Supervisor. Currently, I am responsible for Emulsion and Central Filling areas which produce killed and live virus vaccines for Poultry Industry.
7. Elected experience and are you the incumbent? Currently completing my 10th year on the Milford Board of Education, and having served as President in 2009/2010. I served as representative to Delaware School Board Association Board of Directors for ~8 years, and as the associations President in 2007/2008.
8. What are the three important issues facing your district, and how do you plan to address them?
A. New Superintendent search: Currently the district has contracted with University of Delaware DASL group to conduct the search. First step is Community meetings to get input from the Milford stakeholders as to what is needed in a new superintendent. After this a job description will be finalized with the board and sent out possibly on a national search network asking for resumes from candidates. Once the time frame for submission of resumes is complete they will be initially evaluated and graded by a rubric to screen for interviews. Once the candidates have been interviewed and evaluated the final decision is made by the board and a contract is offered.
B. Shrinking financials from the State Budget: Currently the State budget is showing more cuts to Education dollars and the district struggles to keep salaries in the district competitive to keep good teachers in the district. Lobbying the legislators and meeting with our local representatives a key to making the point that education quality comes with a price tag. The RTTT grant has a limited lifetime and many initiatives started with this funding will not be sustainable when the dollars go away in 3 years. The districts free and reduced population continues to grow with ~56% currently and meeting the needs of this population involves more then teaching their children to pass a test. Finally, the district needs to continue to look at ways to save money through collaboration and shared services, and by not investing in services that only serve one group and not the whole student body.
C. Communication with Community Stakeholders: In the last several years many decisions made surrounding the education of the children of Milford have been taken out of the hands of the community where it belongs, and made by members of the state, district and building staff. From Superintendent choice, to which test we are teaching our children too, and finally policies such as dress code these decisions need to have more input from the public and parents they directly affect. The board should meet with and look for better ways to serve the needs of the growing diverse groups in Milford, not just the small circle they are part of. The Milford Community continues to change and the School District must change with the changing needs of the children and parents in the community.
9. What do you think of Race to the Top plans in your district? Do you agree with the way money is being spent?
RTTT was pushed down from the federal level but because the state was facing financial issues it was jumped on with little explanation and input from the community. Out of the RTTT and NCLB we’ve had two standardized tests in Delaware, and now our students are showing progress on this test but guess what they are doing poorer on the only one colleges are looking at, SAT or ACT. The Milford School District has put together an exceptional team and a plan that is one of the tops in the state thanks to the outgoing superintendent. The work the district is doing is benefiting some groups, such as special needs and ESL, but it is doing little to improve those that already perform at the acceptable levels according to the state. One part of the districts plan I personally question though is the idea of putting more students in the AP programs when the results to date do not show this as improving access to colleges. The biggest issue with RTTT though is that the grant is limited to 4 years and when it’s gone its gone so all that the district has done with it will fall back on the district to continue without the funding. The other issue is that half the funding went to the state when it should have gone into the classrooms around the state.