Meet the Candidates Night: Part 1
Updated: Oct 31, 2019
On Thursday, October 24th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m, school board candidates Danielle Stevens, Josh Hagan, Thomas Hippely, and Mark Ryan joined each other in the High School auditorium to answer questions the community had for them.
With the help from Mr. Hamilton asking them these questions, they each answered as best they could. The questions mostly consisted of how the candidates will impact Marlington and the dividing and revenue of the district.
In respect to the candidates mottos; move Marlington forward, or giving Marlington back to the voters? How do you specifically plan to implement your motto into your leadership on the board and in the school district?
R&H: "We have already implemented the middle school renovation. The high school is in the process of the new air conditioner and the windows; the next step being a new roof which will take years to do. The public phase will be addressing the elementary schools and are looking forward to using the nexus money in order to do that. We are also considering taking Lexington and consolidating with the nexus money; potentially taking Lexington and putting an addition onto it and renovating that building. (Ryan mentions the laptops and iPads being very sufficient to the schools).
H&S: "We want to give back to the voters by listening to them, by showing them what a true democracy is and how wonderful it is to live in a country where our votes are supposed to be heard. Unite the community. If we don’t have the voters support, we won’t have a good support within our school system as well."
Starting now and if elected, how will you bring unity and healing back to the divided Marlington school district?
R&H: "The closing of Marlboro brings a lot of emotion, but when you look at the facts and figures, we have declined enrollment. It’s a continual decline. If we don’t do it now we’ll do it 5 or 10 years down the road since it's been a plan for years."
H&S: "We need to show respect and stop the bullying that is happening at Marlington. This is a risky financial situation, we do not want to be Waterloo or West Branch and if we keep alienating the voters that’s what we will become."
Are you wholeheartedly and in favor of the renewal levy that will appear on the ballot in November and if no, how will you plan to support students' learning and teachers?
R&H: "Absolutely. 70% of that is going to staff. The community has always supported renewals. Raises 1.5 million dollars.
H&S: "We are in full support of the levy, and the students and staff at Marlington. Voters are more than willing to pay more taxes on the levy. They are just not in favor with the consolidation."
Do you feel that a board member has more information regarding Ryan’s school than the general public? If so, in a light of new information that you may earn on the Board of Education are you willing to change an opinion that you currently have and if so how would you enforce it to the public?
R&H: "A board member has more information readily available. Children have to go somewhere during the renovation. They will be put in trailers. This project was supposed to be done in 3 months and it is just now wrapping up a year later. We would publicly announce a board meeting."
H&S: "In some circumstances that’s absolutely the case. They should not know more than the public. Sometimes it appears they know a lot more than anyone else. We would inform the public immediately about new information. We probably won’t learn about new information unless addressed at a board meeting. We are planning on making repairs to Marlboro while it is shut down this school year." (Stevens mentions that Hippely said he’d vote any way the community wanted. Hagan does not recall the use of pods from the board meeting.)
Do you believe closing Marlboro was a fiscally responsible move for the district; if Marlboro reopens, what is your plan to move staff and students back, and what is your response to teachers and community members who do not want to return? Have you been into the elementary schools and seen how the students interact?
R&H: "We believe it was a responsible thing to do. Would we reopen the building no; we have have been in all 4 buildings. We never saw any issues with the students or staff. We do not plan on reopening Marlboro.
H&S: "We believe it was not fiscally responsible. We can operate 3 elementaries; and are concerned for the children’s uprooting. Moving was the current board of administration’s plan and not ours. Comparing tests scores, Marlington did way better with an 82.6% of the time. Cramming our students into 2 buildings does not give a good environment and why would we do that if we want what’s best for the students? We are also concerned about having only two resource officers."
What are your ideas enforcing the care and the safety of our students around the district?
R&H: "We have two resource officers through the county. The training involves active shooter situations and lock-down situations. We have been conducting these for the past 5 years. We have the system where you have to identify yourself when going into a school building during school hours. Mental health is a big part of it and we brought psychologists into the district. An app was rolled out in the beginning of the school year where parents are able to track their children on school buses; it helps them know where they are, another level of safety."
H&S: "When Marlboro was closed, a full time police staff was taken away and also EMT’s ready to be taken. We feel that if we have more resource officers that would also be something to invest our taxes in, instead of a consolidated elementary school where we’re putting all of our kids in one spot. Smaller schools are a decrease in student violence. We want to provide freedom and liberty to the students. Classes should be put into place teaching accountability and mental stability, putting them in situations where they have to deal with defeat or a loss so that they are able to deal with it and not be coddled with how to handle reality."