What’s the biggest issue currently facing the district?
Learning loss that has occurred over the last year is the biggest issue. We know that many students struggled with virtual learning as well as the trauma of the pandemic. The district is developing plans to help each student catch up.
How can Christina best recover from learning loss suffered during the pandemic? Do you agree with the recent credit recovery expansion or should other techniques be used?
I think the credit recovery expansion is a great way to help students make up for the losses of the last year. This program allows flexibility and works well with a variety of students and student’s needs. I am also happy to see the other programs being put in place to help students recover: FAME, Upward Bound, private tutoring, extended school year. The goal is to help each student and there is not a one size fits all approach.
Some students have benefited from completely virtual learning. Should a virtual option exist for students even after the pandemic? If so, what should it look like?
A virtual option should continue for students. We should build from what we learned this past year. We need to see what forms worked best for students and families and also understand the effect on our teachers. It is important that a virtual option does not become a burden for our educators and that it works well for the students and families using it.
The district is about to receive an influx of federal funds from the latest stimulus bill. How would you vote to spend that money?
Some of these funds are being used to improve our HVAC systems throughout the district. This is important for COVID but will also have a positive effect on other viruses that occur throughout the year especially colds and the flu.
I have also suggested that some of these funds be used to help with the learning loss including increasing the availability of private tutoring slots as necessary. I don’t want to see students who could benefit be turned away because there were not enough funds. We need to prioritize helping students catch up.
Christina currently has the lowest graduation rate in Delaware. What would you do to try to improve that statistic?
We need to start with an understanding of what is keeping students from graduating. We then need to meet those needs with workable solutions. Students who are struggling with concepts may need help from a tutor, students who need to work to help support their families could benefit from more flexibility such as that found at Sarah Pyle Academy. Just like there are a multitude of students and students’ needs, there needs to be a multitude of solutions to meet those needs.
With increased competition from charter schools, how would you try to improve enrollment rate and public perception?
Having different types of schools available to students to meet their needs is a good idea, however, in Delaware, Charters, Vo Techs and Traditional public schools all have different funding mechanisms, but only Traditional public schools must accept all students and work to educate every student. The other schools can pick and choose which students they would like to accept and can remove those students should the student no longer live up to their expectations. That being said, I believe the district needs to be more proactive in sharing all of the great things happening in our schools. There are incredible opportunities for students throughout the district but very few people are aware of them. District communication needs to improve both for our families but also for our community. Perceptions can change when the positives are evident and that requires communication.