York County School Board District 3 Q&A: Mark Medford

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Mark Medford. (Photo courtesy YCSD)

WYDaily sent an identical questionnaire to each candidate running for the District 3 seat on the York County School Board.

Incumbent Mark Medford, who is currently the board’s chairman, faces newcomer Julie Riechle in the race. Medford’s answers are unedited and presented below.

The election takes place Nov. 3.

Read a completed questionnaire from Reichle here.

1. What are the three major issues facing the school district right now? How would you address those issues?

  1. Operating Budget, continue to work hard to keep our local BOS informed of our needs and why along with informing our state representatives the need to restore funding to K-12 and make public education a priority again in the Commonwealth. We also need to continue our own budget oversight to continue our history of being efficient with our dollars.
  2. Staff compensation, we need to continue to move forward in being competitive in the area of salary. We need to be able to recruit and retain the most highly qualified employees for YCSD.
  3. Growth and building capacity, we need to keep a close eye on county growth and monitor it often and plan outward with our forecasts. There are many factors that can speed up or slow down projects, so the board must continue to work with our staff and county staff to have plans in place for the short term and long term for this issue.

2. Population data suggests several school zones face an overcrowding problem in the coming years if adjustments are not made. Beyond the new elementary schools slated to be built in the Magruder and York zones, what strategies would you support to address the issue? Why?

First, we continue to work with the county to monitor residential growth.  We would task our staff to prepare options moving forward.  Options could include looking at other schools and available capacity, zoning new residential communities to balance capacity in our buildings, bring in temporary portable classroom space for the short term or a combination of both.  We would need to make sure if and when we began the construction of a new school, our growth would justify the expense when opened.  All indications are that we will need the space, but we would continue to work closely with the county to monitor the proposed, planned and under construction projects to forecast capacity needs.

3. What budget items would you want to ensure are fully funded and not cut back as the York County School Division builds its fiscal 2017 budget?

Compensation is key to our successes.  The new teacher pay plan needs to keep moving forward.  Our technology, transportation (busses), textbooks are also critical.

4. Later start times for high-schoolers is currently in serious consideration by both the York County School Board and the division’s administration. Do you support later start times for these students? Why or why not?

The school board is in the process of asking questions and having staff bring data to us for consideration.  The next step is for staff to bring us a scope of work and possible time line.  As a board member, I must have more information to make an informed decision.

5. Which school improvement projects do you think need to be priority items for the school division? Why?

YCSD has always been out front and proactive in keeping our buildings and infrastructure in great condition.  I feel we need to keep moving in the direction of energy efficiency efforts.  This will have long lasting saving for the county and its tax payers.

We also need to quickly correct the sizes of our common areas of some schools that have been added on to.  In some cases, adding capacity didn’t mean we added space for things like libraries, cafeterias and parking due to limited funding in our capital improvement project budget.

6. Talk about the achievement gap in York Schools. Are the current strategies to close the gap working? Why or why not? What are your ideas to help progress in this area? 

We have put many resources into this area.  We have had great academic gains in all of our subgroups areas.  We use researched programs and best practices to keep moving our gains higher each year.  We also provide purposeful professional development for our staff.  We do all of this while still keeping to our mission to engage  ALL students in learning the skills and knowledge needed to make productive contributions in the World.

7. How would you describe the working relationship between the school board and the Board of Supervisors? What can the school board do to improve or enhance this relationship?

I would say that during the very difficult economic times we faced in the past both boards found it sometimes difficult to reach agreements.  The BOS had to balance many things that tugged on the local funding, where the school board was advocating for one thing, public education our students and staff.  My goal this past year as board chair was to rebuild relationships with our counterparts.  I was able to accomplish this and more with the idea of having “common goals” between both boards.  We developed an approach of bringing with our funding request the detail and data to back it.  We kept the BOS informed at all steps along the way as we built our budget of need.  The process worked so well, this year should be another one of cooperating and understanding.

8. How well do you feel the school board members work together? What do you feel you can bring to the school board’s dynamic?

The York County School Board works very hard for our students, families, staff and community.  The board does very well in asking the correct questions.  The proof is in our student’s academic achievements and why people move to York County.  We come from very different backgrounds and offer different experiences.  We are the conduit between our staff and community.  I’m very proud to say that I bring strong leadership and a high level of experience.  I stay current on state and national issues and how they may impact public education at the local level.  Because of my career as the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s DARE Officer I offer the uniqueness of being in our schools every day.  I’m “boots on the ground” connecting with students, staff and parents every day.  I see first-hand the wonderful work of our schools and student along with pinpointing issues that need addressing.