Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Interview Question For Delmar Board Of Education Candidates - Farrah Morelli

1. Please provide a brief summary of your background and your reasons for running.

My husband, Joe and I moved to Delmar, DE 6 years ago with our family. I grew up in rural Western Pennsylvania, and attended a small town school district very similar to Delmar.

I have always been interested in education. I attended Penn State University for Secondary Education where I spent numerous hours in schools while taking college courses pertaining to education.

Now, as a mother with six children of my own, my interest has intensified. Because I have four children in different grades, I have had broad range of experiences with the Delmar schools. Those experiences have given me a clear perspective of what is important to parents and students and I want to ensure that all of the children receive a quality education at Delmar.

2. What unique experiences or characteristics would you bring to the board that other members or candidates don't have?

I have 6 children, 5 of whom will be attending the schools this fall with the 6th child starting school in 2012. My children are active in various school activities, and I am aware of what is affecting the children & parents.

I am dedicated to solving problems within our school. I have attended 100% of the Parent Advisory Board meetings this year. I have worked with the administration to make the 5th grade transition easier. When problems arose, I calmly communicated my concerns to the school administration and offered solutions.

I also believe that the school district should be fiscally responsible. As a large family, we needed to learn how to spend money wisely. As a result, I developed a successful approach to budgeting and personal finance. People began to seek my advice, and I started teaching finance, budgeting, and couponing classes in our community.

3. If elected do you have a top priority?

My top priority is to maintain high quality education in the face of economic adversity. I would like to save our taxpayers as much money as possible without sacrificing our children’s education. In this light, I intend to thoroughly research each proposal before making a decision.

4. What is your vision for education in this community?

I think it is important that the students receive a well-rounded education. My vision would be to ensure that students have access to high quality academic, arts, and athletic programs.

5. There is a lack of public attendance at the Board of Education meeting, however many people look at the school website for information on what is happening at the meetings. The website is notorious for parts of it not working or not being currently. How would you deal with communicating board policy and matters to the public?

I believe that the Board of Education should have a comprehensive website that gives the public easy access to financial records, meeting agendas, school board minutes, and upcoming legislation that will affect our district. It needs to be updated on a regular basis and tested with each update to ensure it’s working correctly.

6. In dealing with the school district's operational budget, which areas would you explore for cost savings or expansion? Which, if any, areas should be protected from budget cuts?

I believe all areas of the budget should be explored for potential savings.

I would explore areas such as landscaping & facility maintenance costs & see if it were possible to work with some of the students in these areas (in exchange for elective credits or community service hours). I would look into grants for textbooks & necessary educational supplies. I would look at using technology to communicate the needs of the district to the community, with the hope that some of these needs would be met by our multi-talented parents, students, administration, and other community members.

7. OMITTED Howard's Comment; I told Mrs Morelli she did not have to answer this question as the school had corrected the problem with the check registers postings.

8. The School district is looking for land to build a new school in the future. At present one spot mentioned is out by Susan Beach Road, west of town, what is your thoughts on piece of land and/or a new school?

While I do believe that is an opportune time to be purchasing property due to the downturn in the real estate market, I do not believe it is the proper time to be constructing a new school.

9. The State of Delaware Auditor has suggested consolidating District office personnel into one District office for all the schools in Sussex County to save Administrative costs for education, which in Delaware appear excessive as compared to other states. what is your opinion on that?

I am willing to look at ways to conserve money, but I do not feel that a consolidated Sussex County School System will be good for our students or community. I believe most people enjoy the small town community of Delmar, and a consolidated district will remove local control of our school. The state will appoint the school board, and all of the decisions involving our school will be left up to people appointed by the state, who do not live in our community. This will affect our choices for school curriculum, sports, and arts programs. It will also present a problem with weather related cancellations and delays.

10. The trend seems to be to move more grades into the Delaware School district from the Wicomico County School. Do you see that continuing and do you think at some point the Wicomico County- Delmar School District consolidation agreement will cease and students from the two states will be taught only in their state?

I have a 5th grade student who moved to the middle/high school this past year. Moving the 5th grade caused more crowding in the school than anticipated, so I do not foresee any additional grade levels moving to DMSHS in the near future.

If grades Pre-K through 4 were to move to the Delaware side, it would take building a Delmar Delaware elementary school. I do not believe that the district should undertake such an expensive project at this time. The Delmar School district is a unique district, and while I believe that some day in the distant future, the schools may be divided by state, I do not think it will happen any time soon.

We are a unique district, and the Delmar community benefits from the Bi-State Agreement. Although, it sometimes creates challenges and causes frustration, I believe the Bi-State Agreement should be maintained.


Anonymous said...

I am happy to see you post this Howard. I belive she is an excellent candidate for the school board.
I tend to disagree with her on the building of a new school though. Yes, it's a good time to purchase land with prices down so low but a new school should also be put in progress very soon. Building prices are not going to go down, they will only go up even more in the future.
Anyone who thought bringing the
5th grade over was not going to cause overcrowding is blind! The school was already at capacity, pretty much since the day the new school was built thanks to the State of Delaware and their stupid rules for sizing. Delmar should have been able to size this new school much larger based on the potential growth that the town was looking at back then.
In this sense, it's a good thing that all those new developments have not been constructed yet. But they will be at some point in the next several years, and Delmar needs to be prepared.
Having said all that, while I feel some her intentions are definitely good ones, I also feel she's just like most others in Delmar and she's more reactive than proactive. We all know that's not necessarily a good thing.

Anonymous said...

I have read through both sets of interview questions and it seems that both candidates see the interests of education and the students as priorities. However, there are reasons that most terms of office have limits. I think it is time for new ideas and a fresh perspective. Ms. Morelli has children in our schools NOW, her personal concerns for excellent education are CURRENT, and I think she will carry those personal concerns through to improve the schools for all of our children. Ms. Morelli, you have my vote!