Seaford School District presents its Friend of Seaford Education Award

By Scott Bleile

The Seaford School Board presented its Friend of Seaford Education Award at its meeting held on Monday, Nov. 16. Phil Livingston was presented the award for his positive contributions to the Seaford School District.

Livingston is a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and has been a substitute teacher in the district since 1998. Board president Mike Kraft presented the award and thanked Livingston for all he does for the schools.

"He does a fantastic job and is probably one of the biggest supporters of our schools. You always see him at events or helping out in the schools," stated Kraft. Seaford School District Superintendent David Perrington also added, "Mr. Livingston is a great asset to have available to our schools. This award is greatly deserved."

The board also presented an award to the winner of the Delaware Department of Education School Bus Safety Poster contest. Gia Szulborski, a second grade student at Blades Elementary School, created the winning entry and received a certificate from Kraft.

The board also presented the President's Volunteer Service award to Shannon Layton, a tenth grade student at Seaford High School. Layton was honored for achieving the Gold Level for teens 11 to 15 years old and for completing over 100 hours of volunteer service.

In his monthly superintendent's report, Perrington told the board that over 1000 people attended the Blue Jay Pride Day that was held on October 31st. "It is always good to open our school and it shows that people are very interested in what is going on in the schools by the large turnout. We were very excited with the turnout and are already talking about how to improve the day for next year. Mr. Cox did a great job organizing the day and everyone involved did a great job" stated Perrington.

Perrington also reported the winter sports seasons are beginning and that teams are practicing for the start of their seasons. There is a program starting from the State of Delaware to help assistant principals to gain experience needed to become principals.

The Delaware Department of Education is discussing changes with Smarter Balance Testing. "The state is looking at possibly changing the testing for the 11th grade students," reported Perrington. "DOE is looking into using the SAT testing for the 11th grade. This is in the very beginning stages because many levels of approvals are needed. The United States Department of Education has to approve the changes as well as the state and local school boards. They all have to be in agreement to change the testing."

"Seaford High School has been awarded two CTE grants for $10,000 for their manufacturing program," continued Perrington. "The Freeman Foundation will be unveiling the new mural in the Seaford Middle School before our next board meeting. I would also like to add that the new food truck has been out serving food to the community. The truck was at the homecoming parade and at homecoming. They did a great job".

Board Member David Tull added that he would also like to thank Mr. Cox for all he did for organizing Blue Jay Pride Day.

Personnel Director Duncan Smith spoke about Focus School planning. "We have three schools that are labeled as Focus schools. Blades Elementary is a Focus school with West Seaford Elementary and Fred Douglass being Focus Plus schools. We are in the planning year for these schools in the Focus program," stated Perrington. "We are working with DOE, along with the University of Virginia to provide extra training through professional development days and to help us develop the plan for getting these schools back to the levels needed to remove them from the Focus program. The plan needs to be approved by the state."

Smith explained to the board how school choice within the district affects each school.

"We have many students that moved to others school from within the district. For example, 119 Blades students have made the choice to attend other schools in our district. In total we have had over 511 students move. Because students move creates problems with the testing scores at the different schools," Smith said.

Smith continued, "There is one possible solution to the problem is by taking the four stand-alone elementary schools and creating two feeder pairs of elementary schools. We would have two schools of kindergarten through second grade and two schools of three through fifth grades. There are several instructional benefits if these schools were created. We can tailor Professional Development days to each schools as well as Professional Learning Communities within the schools. We can also unify our school calendar for PD's, school vacations/breaks, parent conferences and report cards." Perrington added, "Our next step will be staffing decisions to see if these changes are able to be made. We will have meetings with our grade realignment committee and also our parent advisory committee and I will have an update at the next board meeting."

Director of Finance Johanna Adams reported to the board that they have received most of the tax income for the year, but not all has been received as of yet. She also reported that athletic receipts have increased because of attendance at all of the sporting events this fall.

"We charge for football, soccer and volleyball. We even have had one less paid football game because of having the first game free to everyone," added Adams. "This is a good sign that people are coming out to see our teams played," said Perrington.

Building and Grounds Director Roy Whitaker reported they have received new bids on the greenhouse project at the high school. He is recommending United Design Company be approved as the builder of the greenhouse.

Board member Rebecca Adams asked why the general contractor costs were so high. "The cost of the concrete slab so high. Why can't we sub this out to someone else to see if we can lower the costs? This is a lot of money to spend," stated Adams. Whitaker replied "due to the cost of all the site work. For example, the sidewalks, electric and the plumbing work."

Board Member Mike Smith asked, "Why are we still taking about this project? We have not done this with other projects. I think we are splitting hairs. We have trusted our people before why not now."

Adams replied "This is a different type of project and it is a lot on money we are spending. I just feel we need to look at the costs."

Kraft stated "This is something we wanted. We have made the changes and the company has agreed to those changes to meet what we wanted. I think our people did what we asked them to do."

Tull made a motion to accept the bid of United for the total of $449,807.40. "No one wants to go along with subbing out some of the work to save costs?," asked Adams. "The motion needs to go forward. I am all for using local people, but we need to have the company do the work. They know what they are doing and once they come in it will be completed at once." The motion passed 4-0 with Adams abstaining.

Perrington closed the meeting with some important dates to remember for upcoming events.

Dec. 8 will be the Middle School chorus concert, and Dec. 9 will be the high school winter concert. Central will hold its winter concert for grades 3-5 on Dec. 10 followed by the middle school band concert on December 15. West Seaford's grades 3-5 winter concert is Dec. 15 followed by Fred Douglass grades 3-5 winter concert on Dec. 16.

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