Tuesday’s school board elections are a long-awaited chance for voters to influence how taxes are spent and children are educated across New Castle County.
The Appoquinimink and Red Clay districts have contested races. All candidates in the Brandywine, Christina and Colonial districts are unopposed.
Voting was originally May 12, was postponed to June 15 and is now 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday at sites scattered throughout each district.
Along the way, several candidates have dropped out for the unpaid positions, which run through 2025, except for Christina’s District D, which is for four years.
Board member Martin Wilson is challenged for his District B seat by Wilmington residents Sarah Fulton and Lillian Oliver. Wilson has been a board member for 20 years.
Fulton came to Delaware to study at the University of Delaware and now works for Spur Impact. She wants to make “Red Clay an attractive place to live” for the young professionals drawn to Wilmington’s renaissance. That entails increasing resources and considering the health and safety of everyone in the district, “even if there are tough choices.”
Oliver is a district alumna and middle school teacher at the Positive Change Academy, an alternative school that includes some Red Clay students. “The community is my kids,” she says, noting that she has no children, which is why she is emphasizing “bridging the gap between the community and the schools.” She also wants to work on the dropout rate, professional development and at-risk students.
Board president Catherine Thompson is challenged for her District G seat by Hockessin resident Grace Otley.
Thompson says she has 25 years of involvement with the district and its schools, including 10 on the board. Her two children are Red Clay alumni, and her daughter teaches in the district. All told, she has “unparalleled experience and proven commitment to Red Clay,” with an emphasis on “improved education and financial accountability.”
Otley, a Red Clay alumna, is majoring in communication and French at the University of Delaware and is the public information officer for the Office of Women’s Advancement and Advocacy. “I would be the first Asian-American on the board as well as the youngest,” she says. “I believe it’s crucial to have someone who’s younger on the board who can relate to and understand the problems students are facing today. … I was adopted from Vietnam when I was 1 and brought to America. I have faced mental, emotional, and physical discrimination due to my race as I was attending schools.”
Board member Kristin Pidgeon of Brandywine Hundred is unopposed for her District B seat.
Board member Karen Gordon of Brandywine Hundred is unopposed for her District E seat.
Board member Lucy Kennedy of New Castle is unopposed for her District B seat.
Christopher Piecuch of New Castle is unopposed for the District D seat.
Alethea Smith-Tucker of Wilmington is unopposed for the District A seat.
Board member Claire O’Neal of Newark is unopposed for her District D seat.
Board member Michelle Wall of Odessa is challenged for her at-large seat by Wayne Meadows of Middletown.
Wall calls herself a “proud parent, prepared leader, and strong advocate” on Facebook. She works in community relations for Make a Wish and has two daughters in district schools. Her priorities for another term include education funding reform; equitable staff compensation, particularly when compared to nearby districts; and expanded opportunities and programs for all students.
Meadows says on Facebook he has made a dozen videos and hundreds of posts over the last eight months on his proposals, including “world-class education,” “competitive salaries” and “responsible spending.” His campaign page, http://wayne4appo.com, says he attended district schools and employs district residents. He is a managing partner at Professional Technicians.