What’s the biggest issue currently facing the district?
As we continue to adjust, vaccinate and mitigate risks for the COVID-19 pandemic we must work answer the question of how we return to a traditional school day and week. It is important that we start the school year with a 4 or 5 day school week, with normal start and end times. Families and students will be able to choose in building or virtual learning. With our increased number of returning students and teachers, during this school year, we are positioned to begin the next school year under our new normal.
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?
There has always been learning loss. The pandemic has created a larger pool of students with loss learning. The strategy of credit recovery that is in place, along with the strategies of closely monitoring student achievement metrics and an expansion of our tutoring and extra hours plans will assist to help the students that fell behind, farther than anticipated.
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?
The CSD Virtual Academy (CSDVA) has proven successful for many students and families since its start during November 2020. The CSDVA is an outgrowth of the COVID-19 pandemic that should remain operational for the 2021-2022 school year. The CSDVA should be staffed by teacher committed to only teaching virtual students. The CSDVA should require students to commit to staying in the academy, with changes permitted at the in of a report period. The CSDVA provides relief for students with anxiety around crowds and students that feel threatened or bullied. A virtual option also provides an opportunity for “home schooling”, provided by the district, for families that had been considering home schooling.
The district is about to receive an influx of federal funds from the latest stimulus bill. How would you vote to spend that money?
One of the guidelines in the latest stimulus package, ESSER II, stipulates that 20% of the funds must be used for Learning Loss assistance. I see the priorities for this additional funding to be spent on Learning Loss, Building Preparation/Improvement and Educational Provider/Support Personnel. Since we have until 2024 to spend these funds, there is time to incorporate the these funds into the Strategic Plan and have the priorities identified in the Strategic Plan.
Christina currently has the lowest graduation rate in Delaware. What would you do to try to improve that statistic?
The Christina School District’s outcomes have not been as good as our potential says that we should. There are numerous reasons why our outcomes are in the lower 50% of the state’s school districts. Our numbers say that we should be better; we have a better student to teacher ratio than the state average, we have the funding for needed resources and we have qualified teachers. We care about the welfare of our students and our curriculums are designed for higher than satisfactory outcomes. So, “why the poor outcomes?” My answer is that we must have the will to find the level of need (equity) for each student and place each student in the best position to succeed. In addition, we must work with our families to identify barriers to learning that may exist for each child. One additional thought is that we must believe in the ability of our students to perform instead of pre-judging them to failure.
With increased competition from charter schools, how would you try to improve enrollment rate and public perception?
Improving the graduation rate will improve the enrollment rate. One of the reasons that charter schools continue to grow is that families want their children in a school that presents, in their perception, the best chance for student success. Many of these charter schools create a community that is devoid of the diversity of thought, culture and the rich social fabric that our school district offers. I hold that we must put curriculums in place and continue to demonstrate that the Christina School District is the choice for academic success and complete social development for all students, cultures and thought.