Joshua Hagan, former student and proud member of Marlington’s community, Is running for the Board of Education along with his running mate, Danielle Stevens. The candidates running for Marlington Board of Education were all asked the same questions despite all follow-up questions interview by The Grand Duke (TGD).
TGD: Why are you running? Hagan: Our community deserves to be heard and represented. Over the last few election cycles and to date the school board leadership has failed to reflect the will of our greater community on our desire for education to be kept close to home and for our school board leadership's emphasis to be put on student success through education rather than where we can move them to. Our school children need dedicated leaders with a vision that reflects the community’s desire to see students succeed right where they are. We need board members with new ideas about improving our educational outcomes in a way that doesn’t disrupt our community or cause additional strains on our students’ experiences going to school. As a school board member, I will work to restore the community’s trust and support while focusing on our students' everyday success in their classrooms.
TGD: What other ways are you involved in the community? Hagan: I served our community as a firefighter and EMT with our local volunteer fire department for 9 years. I served as an alternate on the Marlboro Township zoning board of appeals. I most recently finished proudly coaching my son’s U8 soccer team for the Fall season with the Alliance Community Soccer Club.
TGD: How would you describe the voter demographic that you feel you best represent? Hagan: All of the voters of the Marlington School District are a demographic that I’d represent because I am one. Voters that want the primary focus of the school board to be returned to the education of our students would find great comfort in electing me. As a leader, my aim would be to bring all voters of varying demographics together to work through ideas that are positive for our entire community. As a proud graduate and father of three students of our great school system, I would also state that I represent all who have been blessed and dedicated to educating and raising our children here.
TGD: How involved are you with the school district? Hagan: I was fortunate to be educated at Marlington all the way from kindergarten through Graduation. I have 2 children currently being educated at Marlington and another that is a proud Marlington graduate. I’ve enjoyed attending many school board meetings over the last few years to understand more clearly what the focus of our elected leaders has been on and evaluating their desire to focus emphasis on the education of our children. I regularly attend school events when I am not otherwise called to work and/or other important family engagements, I am a proud member of the Marlington community.
TGD: What are two-three ways you plan to improve the district? Hagan: I plan to redirect the focus of the board to instead put our emphasis into the education of our students. I would also work to see more options available for our students to learn life skills that will prepare and equip them to be successful in life, during their time in school and also after they graduate. I will work to provide a path towards success for our students in their education, whether they are going to college or directly into the workforce. I am in favor of being a good steward of all of our educational resources and assets. I will work to ensure our buildings receive regular maintenance and to resolve and prevent some of the problems that we are currently experiencing from attention being redirected toward other agendas.
TGD: Do you have any students in the district and what do you hear from your children about the happenings in the district? Hagan: Yes, I would prefer not to have my children singled out regarding my run for school board.
TGD: Do you worry about running/being on the school board affecting your children negatively? Hagan: It seems symptomatic of where we are as a community, under the current leadership, that a question of this sort would even be posed. However, my children should be treated the same as any other children regardless of whether I am running for school board, serving on the school board or not. However, I will work to create an environment where questions and concerns like these are not necessary. We will work to value all perspectives and all leaders and build a culture of trust, transparency and teamwork. No person should fear for implications for themselves or their children while standing for what they believe is best for our community.
TGD: What are your thoughts on consolidating into one elementary school? Hagan: My thoughts are that the majority of voters have made their stance on consolidation quite clear and I stand behind them.
TGD: How do you plan to improve enrollment (enrollment is going down)? Hagan: I plan on working with other board members to create an atmosphere that is conducive to learning and improving students’ success during their time in school and after graduation. Focusing on our students’ academic success in and beyond the walls of our school buildings is the best way to attract others.
TGD: Why do you think enrollment is going down? Hagan: There are many factors to consider as to why enrollment is going down. One is the fact that we had some really large classes which have graduated in the last few years and therefore the overall enrollment numbers drop as those large classes graduate. I looked into the actual enrollment numbers of the elementary schools alone and they have been pretty steady for the last decade or so. I think more recent numbers can be attributed partially to the fact that our schools have not been taken care of sufficiently since the current school board majority had decided that consolidation was the only way to go and opted not to give voters the option to keep and maintain our current buildings.
TGD: Do you support school levies to try and build new schools? Why/why not? Hagan: In the case of our schools, I believe that our buildings are not at the point that this has become a necessity. With proper maintenance and maybe some basic and thoughtful renovations our schools could and may very well outlast a newly constructed school building.
What are your plans to address current issues inside the school, such as bullying? According to our current school board president, who is up for re-election, and superintendent, Marlington doesn’t have any problems with bullying. I believe that bullying should not be tolerated and should be dealt with promptly by the teachers, staff and/or administration. I also believe that actions reflect leadership and that our leaders should lead for our students in a way that promotes kindness and understanding of differences.
TGD: What would you like to tell the people- specifically the students? Hagan: I would like to tell the students that Marlington has been in the past, is currently and can still be a great school district for many generations to come. New buildings aren’t the only option we have to improve our outcomes. We should all be immensely proud to be a part of this great community and school system together.
Pilar Montelongo and Mikalya Robinson: Why did you partner with Danielle Stevens? Hagan: There are currently two open seats up for consideration by the voters this election cycle. Danielle and I share the same vision as many community members which is to maintain and improve our elementary system, along with our middle school and high school, that we’ve always had. We would like to restore our three communities and continue to provide and improve educational opportunities for all of our students.
Montelongo and Robinson: If you were to be elected, how would it affect your job? Hagan: If I am elected, my job will be to serve our community. My job has always been to serve in my community. My employment and work outside of my direct service is to provide for my family and community members who are in need of heating, air conditioning and/or plumbing related services. I also established and run the online sales division of our local family business which gives me even more flexibility with my time. Serving on the school board will come naturally to a work life balance that is already very familiar to my day to day tasks in working to help others.
Election day is Tuesday, November 5th. More information can be located at Hagan and Stevens for Marlington.
Article written by Mikayla Robinson and Pilar Montelongo.
Danielle Stevens will be running for a seat on the Marlington Board of Education in the upcoming election on November 5th. All candidates were asked the same questions by The Grand Duke Staff. In an effort to better understand her campaign goals, our staff reached out to Mrs. Stevens but were unable to obtain the answers necessary for our interview. All information in this article was gathered from the Hagan & Stevens campaign website.
Danielle Stevens believes in more localized education, with smaller elementary schools that are spread throughout the district. In contrast with the opposing campaign, Stevens thinks that a consolidated elementary school would be against the interest of the district.
Stevens also considers fiscal responsibility for the school buildings. This means maintenance and repair if needed, and the proper upkeep stays consistent. She believes the best way to do this is to avoid costly construction projects, along with the debt. Preventing the need for new construction is the best way to keep the taxes lower.
Danielle Stevens imagines that more transparency between the elected officials and voters would improve trust within the district. With ethics being a strong feature of her campaign, Stevens vows to abide by all laws and regulations regarding the school board and their meetings.
Stevens trusts that the elected office is to be a public servant. It is their duty to carry out the wishes of the majority voters, who are placed in our positions to act. She believes it is important to stay engaged with voters and for them to speak through us, and not us speak for them.
The Hagan-Stevens campaign began in response to the board’s plan to consolidate the elementary schools without voter approval. They hope to create a new majority on the school board so that they may prevent what they see as a disservice to residents of Marlington. Voters can go to the polls on November 5th to choose which candidates they believe represents their needs the best.
For further information, visit their campaign website.
Article written by Savanah Angel and Elizabeth Narris.