Citizens For Delaware Schools

Mark Steele is running unopposed so he will be joining the Indian River School Board.

Why are you the best candidate for School Board?

I am a retired educator with 39 years of teaching and administrative experience. Thirty of those years were spend as a school and district level administrator. I was the district superintendent the last four years of my career. I have considerable knowledge on all aspects of district management ranging from personnel to policy and finance. This level of experience will help me make better and more informed decisions on district matters.

Older balding white man in a suit sitting at a desk smiling at the camera
How will you prioritize improvement to student academic achievement, particulary reading and math?

Instruction is the basic foundation for any school system and it makes sense that resources and planning are important aspects of improving both reading and math. The district should examine the amount of time spent testing instead of teaching. To improve instruction the environment must be highly structured so that students can learn without distractions. This must occur first!!! Teachers must be allowed to teach and administration should remove the barriers that will allow this to happen.

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

This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of being a board member. I would establish a website for my portion of the school district and keep my community informed on many of the major decisions the board makes. This site would also keep parents updated on legislation that could possibly affect our school system. I would also host Facebook Live and YouTube videos to keep parents up to date on the status of the district. This would give the community to ask questions and get help if needed.

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

As I stated above, there must be a method of disseminating information to parents in a multitude of ways. It is important to keep parents informed from the onset of discussions of potential changes so that the final project is not a shock. It is also valuable in seeking input from the community prior to finalizing any new regulations.

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

First and foremost, there must be a strong code of conduct that all students must follow. The more structure that is provided in the school discipline policy, the safer the environment will become thus making a much better environment that is conducive to learning. In our district, the addition of the campus monitors have made a significant difference in keeping our schools safe.

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

I think school boards should become more active in trying to secure funding for schools at the legislative level. This is why it is important to keep parents informed of pending legislation and projected funding and become a strong advocate for the distribution of funding at the state and federal level. There is a severe lack of vocational funding. This funding area is equally important because every student is not going to college. Our educational system should prepare kids for both college and the work force.

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

All schools need to have some form of communication with parents regardless of the reason. Our elementary schools utilize Class Dojo which helps with parent communications. This can be used to address both curriculum and discipline issues. In many cases, it is used to send photos to parents of how their kids are doing in the classroom. I would want to review what we are doing at all levels and make sure that there is some communication tool in place that will allow for this type of interaction for all levels.

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?

I believe that facts need to be taught. This is the first level of developing a stronger community. I am not an advocate of placing the burden of fixing the many social issues we now are facing in our communities on our teachers and administrators to fix. Schools do not need to take sides in social issues that may distract from the learning process. One key aspect that should be apparent in every classroom and that is an air of mutual respect between students and staff.

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?

I do not see the need bring in visual materials that are mass presented to classes depicting sexual acts. The district should have a committee to review books and materials prior to them being used in the classroom. I do not believe in censorship of library books that are in circulation. If books contain any written material that is questionable in the library materials, parent consent should be obtained in order to sign out the material.