Citizens For Delaware Schools

Challengers:  Timothy W. Johns, Candace M. Jusino, Britney Mumford

Norm also completed the ACLU survey.

Why are you the best candidate for School Board?

I am serving in my third term as a school board member and seeking a 4th term to continue making Appoquinimink School District the best district in the state. In this position I thoroughly understand how school funding works in Delaware. Appoquinimink is currently facing a crisis of rapid growth not seen in ten years. Serving through this last time has prepared me to properly plan for the future without interfering with students.

How will you prioritize improvement to student academic achievement, particulary reading and math?

Test scores are important to all school board members, not just reading and math. Rebounding from the education lost through COVID-19 is not just an issue facing Appoquinimink but is a national crisis. Last summer Appoquinimink held a summer learning event open to all district students. This event was for students to study in areas they needed improvement. This was well attended and received by all. This summer another summer learning recovery event is being planned. Having a constant review of the curriculum with measurable results is happening. Understanding the complexities comes with years of experience.

What steps will you pursue to strengthen the connection between parents and the school system?

Parental involvement is paramount for the success of the Appoquinimink School District. The administration also understands parents play a key role in the education of all students. The building principal is on the front line of ensuring parents receive constant communication about the status of individual students. Parents can reach any school board member should they be dissatisfied. As in the past, I will work with any parent who reaches out for any reason involving their student. Nothing is more important than having engaged parents actively participating in their students’ education.

How will you ensure that parents will be made aware of proposed or new regulations or policies that affect their children?

All Appoquinimink School District board meetings are live-streamed on YouTube when they take place. Meetings are published in advance on the school district website. Emails are sent to parents informing them of upcoming meetings and the agenda is attached. When changing policy or new regulations these are communicated to parents in advance of implementation. Before implementation parents are surveyed about the pending changes and a section is provided for feedback. Board members read all the comments. Parent input has changed the direction of board policy and the implementation of new regulation.

What steps should be taken at schools to create a safer learning environment?

Having to ask this question is unfortunate. Students should be able to go to school and feel safe learning in an environment where they are given the resources they need to learn. Since Covid-19 studies have been produced indicating that students need additional resources in conflict resolution and mental health struggles. Ensuring students have the resources they need is a priority. Appoquinimink has school resource officers and constables in schools. Although they will carry a weapon, one of their primary responsibilities is forging positive student relationships.

What changes should be made, if any, to local and state funding to maximize the amount that goes directly to producing academic achievement?

Appoquinimink currently has 72 teacher openings. The tax base comprises 85% residential to 15% commercial. The rapid growth requires new schools to be built yearly to meet demand. This financial burden rests upon the homeowners. An actual shift from individual districts covering the burden of paying teachers to the state. This would level teacher compensation for a district with the lowest tax base revenue of all the districts. This would also allow Appoquinimink to compete in recruiting and retaining its talented work force.

How will you commit to increasing classroom transparency - including but not limited to curriculum - with parents?

Everything done on behalf of our students should be transparent. Parents play an integral role in their students obtaining a quality education. Appoquinimink values what parents have to say. Parents have made suggestions that have changed policy initiatives. Their input is valued and every suggestion is read and vetted for possible implementation. The district is committed to transparency. The budget, curriculum, calendar, school news, board meetings, and other important district information can be found on the district website.

How will providing curricula that defines people as oppressors and oppressed based on group identity such as race or sex either help or hinder students in their interactions with the world around them?

History is an interesting topic that can leave an opening for interpretation. It may be easy to point to who fired the first shot or threw the first punch. Finding the factual events that led up to this is often mixed with half-truths depending on who is presenting. Teaching students about WWII can be emotionally stirring for students. Not teaching students this history is doing them a disservice. Teach them the known facts and let them interpret the information for themselves. An open and honest discussion is a must not just a one-sided narrative to meet an agenda.

In what circumstances would it be considered acceptable for material that contains visual or written depictions of sexual acts to be presented to students in the classroom or in school libraries?

This decision should be solely based on the parent. Parents should decide what they want their students to view from the classroom to the library concerning this material. Whether this has a school place is open for debate. Forcing this material on children should not. Some students are emotionally able to handle this material. They should be able to see this if that is what their parent wishes. Our school district has an opt-out or opt-in for parents to complete if they want to view this material.