Incumbent Kristi Lloyd is being challenged by Gary R. Dodge. Polls will be open Tuesday, May 8 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., at Smyrna Elementary, Smyrna Middle School and the Kenton Ruritan Club.

Polls will be open for the Smyrna School District Board of Education election Tuesday, May 8 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Incumbent Kristi Lloyd is being challenged by Gary R. Dodge for one seat on the board for a five-year term.

Polling places are:

Smyrna Elementary School, 121 S. School Lane, Smyrna;

Smyrna Middle School, 700 Duck Creek Parkway, Smyrna;

Kenton Ruritan Club, 249 S. Main St. (Route 300), Kenton.

To be eligible to vote, a person must be at least 18 years old, a resident of the Smyrna School District and a citizen of the United States. Proof of identity will be required.

For information on voting by absentee ballot, call the Kent County Department of Elections, 739-4498, or see the website electionskc.delaware.gov/

Here are profiles of each candidate:

GARY R. DODGE

Age: 62

Years living in Smyrna School District: 24

Education: College: Franklin and Marshall College, class of 1977, with a B.A. as a double major in Economics and Government. Law school: Delaware Law School of Widener University, class of 1980, with a JD (Juris Doctor).

Occupation: Attorney

Leadership experience: Five years on the Delaware Real Estate Commission’s Education Committee; service on DNREC and DelDOT task forces as a member of the public; Fifteen-plus years as a member of the Kent County Superior Court Civil Advisory Committee; Twenty-plus years as a member of the Delaware Bar Association Professional Advisory Committee; and, founder and leader of CARE (Citizens Alliance for Responsible Expansion), the group that led the fight to preserve the Garrisons Golf Course as a community asset.

What are the two most important issues in the Smyrna School District and how would you propose dealing with them?

One of the biggest issues I see confronting this District is the disconnect between the School Board and its administrators, and its teachers. My wife retired from the District in 2012. At that time, and for at least five years before that, it was my perception that the teachers’ views on how to best improve the quality of education was not only not sought, it wasn’t welcome. Since that time, it had been my sense that the divide had worsened. Since I filed to run in this election, I’ve learned that I had underestimated the problem. A measure of that frustration can be found in the reality not only that the teachers have endorsed me in this election (over the current School Board President), but the margin of that vote (25-5). These teachers know, better than anyone else, what’s going on in those classrooms. I cannot conceive of any responsible administration, of any organization that is truly dedicated to excellence, that doesn’t include close and frequent constructive interaction and communication between the bosses and the workers. Yet I’m led to believe that, in the few weeks since I filed, I’ve had more substantive interaction with the teachers than has occurred in the last five years. That has to stop. I’m committed to (and have pledged to) opening those lines of communication between the teachers and the School Board, even if I’m the only one listening.

The second big issue is school safety. The problems on a national level aren’t going away simply because we want them to, and I don’t believe gun control is a viable solution. Someone wanting to get a gun will find a way. Arming our teachers makes no sense. Why introduce a firearm into the very environment one’s seeking to protect. We have to appropriate the financial resources to introduce the types of security measures we have in our courthouses. That cost will be significant, but minor compared to the human cost if we don’t and see one of these events occur in this District.

Why should residents vote for you?

Let me say first that for anyone who’s completely happy with the status quo, I’m probably not your candidate. I believe the educational product that this District can and should be delivering can be improved, but only through change. Administrators, parents and students should be held accountable to the educational process, and not just the teachers. Something is amiss when the teachers don’t feel supported by an administration on disciplinary issues, yet that District leads the state in expulsions. Hiring practices must improve. Hiring should be on merit, and not on who you know. Excellence can’t be attained if that practice is permitted to continue. In sum, if you want to see change to better improve the education Smyrna students are receiving, I’m there with you.

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KRISTI LLOYD

Age: 40

Years lived in Smyrna School District: 40

Education: Bachelor of Science, Accounting, Wilmington University 1998-2001; Master of Science, Information Management, Aspen University 2008-2012

Occupation: Manager of Application Development, Delaware Department of Education

Leadership experience: First term on Smyrna School District Board of Education, June 2013-June 2018; served on Teacher of Year Committee (2014, 2015); served on Budget Oversight Committee (2016-present).

Upward Basketball Coach (2016-present).

Member of Trinity Church of Smyrna, small group co-leader, nursery and children’s church worker.

What are the two most important issues in the Smyrna School District and how would you propose dealing with them?

Growth and planning for the next five to ten years. There has been a recent increase in housing development activity; which leads to more families moving into our area. As a board and district office we have begun planning and asking questions like: What new schools do we need? Where do we build them? What will our geographical feeder patterns look like? What do we want our grade levels for each school to be? The key to making these decisions is to work collaboratively and not in isolation. The district must work collectively with the Town of Smyrna, the Town of Clayton, and the Kent County Office. It is healthy to hear different opinions and discuss different options. If re-elected, I am excited to continue these conversations and be part of the decision making process.

Accountability. There are many facets of accountability within the public school system. At the state level we are federally mandated through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to close achievement gaps, increase equity, improve the quality of instruction, and increase outcomes for all students. The State of Delaware has laid out an accountability plan through the Delaware School Success Framework (DSSF).

At the district, school, staff, and student level, we must hold each other accountable to carry out our mission which is to “ensure that the students of the community are prepared as effectively and as efficiently as possible to become responsible and productive citizens processing the knowledge, the problem-solving skills, and the positive attitudes necessary to successfully adapt to and function in an ever changing environment.” This difficult but prosperous work could not be done without every custodian, child nutrition worker, paraprofessional, nurse, secretary, teacher, substitute, school counselor, administrator, special services staff, bus driver, technology staff and many more. I learned first-hand that it takes a complete team of dedicated people to run a school district, educate, transport, feed our children and provide a safe and clean environment in which all students can learn.

At the school board level, it is the duty of the board to hold our students and staff accountable to carry out our mission and to hold them accountable for their conduct. Over the past five years, I have had to make very tough decisions in regards to student and staff misconduct. Each decision I made was in the best interest of all students, all staff members, and the community.

Why should residents vote for you?

It has been a joy and honor to serve on the Smyrna School Board of Education throughout the past five years. As I reflect on the past five years, I am constantly reminded that it takes an entire community working together to achieve student success and that “success” has many definitions. My family is deeply rooted in the community, and as family, we have been involved in a variety of Smyrna-Clayton community and Smyrna School District organizations. Some of these organizations include: Pop Warner, Smyrna-Clayton Soccer Club, Upward Flag Football, Upward Basketball, Gold Medal Gymnastics, CES Chorus, CIS Drama Club, CIS Chorus Program, CIS Basketball Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Trinity Church of Smyrna. Each event has given me an opportunity to connect with parents, grandparents, siblings, community members and staff members.

I have enjoyed attending a wide variety of sporting events. I have celebrated the wins and felt the agony of defeat. What I love most about Smyrna is that we do life together as a community. I am proud that we offer a variety of extracurricular activities to children at all of our schools. I have enjoyed attending musical events that honor our Veterans, showcase musical talent, and drama skills. I have enjoyed attending the Performing & Fine Arts night at Smyrna High School and reading through the Read Aloud Delaware program at John Bassett Moore. I have attended multiple holiday and spring concerts over the years and am amazed by the talent showcased! On behalf of the district I have attended Educators Rising, Business Professionals of America, Teacher of the Year, and Scholars banquets. Although I attended these events as a school board member, I also attended as a proud representative of our community.

While I have enjoyed all of our events, my favorite event to attend is graduation. I love seeing the sea of red and white, I love seeing the stands full of family members, I love seeing our ROTC program present our flags, and I love hearing our choral program sing the National Anthem and our Alma Mater. Above all else, I love watching the graduates receive their diploma which is a culmination of their hard work and education with the Smyrna School District.

During my tenure on the Smyrna School Board, I have learned a lot about the roles and responsibilities of a school board member. I have attended several Delaware School Board Association (DSBA) presentations about the legal fiduciary duties of a board member where I have learned that as a school board member I am held to the following standards: duty of care, duty of loyalty, and duty of obedience. I take this position very seriously. I know that I am one-fifth member, where the authority rests with the board as a whole and not individually with me. Some of the most challenging aspects of being a school board member is trying to balance the various roles of: representative, steward, leader, negotiator, adjudicator, and advocate at the same time. I have always and will continue to have the following mindset: “be part of the solution – not part of the problem.”

Unlike a politically elected position, the school position does not have any party affiliation. I am not running with a specific agenda. If re-elected I pledge to serve all members of the Smyrna School District and the Smyrna-Clayton community. I will continue to be visible, active, and approachable. I will continue to volunteer my time. I will continue to be a problem-solver. I will continue to invest in the next generation. I will continue to mentor, and live a life of service.