Delaware News

Three prepare for service on Delaware school board

Unopposed race features pair of incumbents, one new candidate

By

A new face will join two incumbents on the Delaware school board in January because just three candidates turned in petitions for the three available seats on the board.

Barring the addition of a write-in candidate -- whose petition would be due at 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26, to the Delaware County Board of Elections -- board members Deborah Rafeld and Frances O'Flaherty will return to the board, along with parent Jayna McDaniel-Browning.

Board member Harry Pape, elected for the first time in 2009, chose not to run for re-election.

Jayna McDaniel-Browning is a stay-at-home mom with two children enrolled in the district: one in third grade and one starting kindergarten.

McDaniel-Browning served as a co-chairwoman of the bond issue campaign in May and said the experience influenced her decision to run for school board.

"My work on the bond issue really crystallized my interest in working more closely with our board and administration," she said. "We have a lot of really smart, creative and caring people working in our district."

Before she became a stay-at-home mother, she worked for Park Newspapers, then for 15 years with Gannett as a director of online services for the Newspaper Network of Central Ohio.

"I believe some of the strong skills I possess come from my background in strategic planning, budgeting, revenue growth, cost containment and management," she said.

She said money management always is a concern to the district and said she wants to keep an eye on its fiscal standing during her term.

One of the biggest challenges to the district in the coming years is making sure building projects come to fruition, she said.

McDaniel-Browning said she is personally passionate about seeing students become more active in the classroom in order to reduce childhood obesity rates.

"Research strongly suggests that students learn better and have improved test scores the more physical activity they participate in during the day," she said.

She said she is most excited and anxious to work with the current board members, and added she wants to do anything she can to help the district.

"As the daughter of two teachers, the mother of two elementary school students, and an active classroom volunteer, I think I can bring a unique perspective to the board that isn't currently represented," she said.

Frances O'Flaherty has been on the school board for 10 years. She was appointed in 2003 to finish the last two years of former board member Ruth Tarpy's term, then was elected to two full terms.

She currently teaches high school science in the North Fork Local School District in Utica.

Her decision to run for a third term was based on the fact that she still has children in the school district and believes the board needs a teacher in order to have that perspective, she said.

O'Flaherty said the goal of the board should be to act as a liaison between district administration and the community.

"We need to be aware and able to communicate how the community feels to the district and vice versa," she said.

She said the biggest challenges to the district will be all the construction projects, the new state budget and the new state report cards.

"The report cards are overly complicated and any average member of the community may not understand what they mean," she said.

O'Flaherty said the report card will have grades from A to F, with D being average. So although D means average, many people will assume that's an awful grade, she said.

"People will look at this and think, 'How can you get a D? That's terrible.' But it actually means that we're average and meeting expectations. It's just not intuitive," she said.

O'Flaherty said she is most excited about the 96 new employees in the district -- "young, motivated, energetic" people.

Although she's been on the board for 10 years, she said she will not become complacent.

"I am going to be just as dependable as I've always been, but ready for change. I aim to do the best job I can do," she said.

She also said she is excited to work with a district that is trusted by the community and supported on the ballot.

"I don't think it's possible to overestimate the power schools have in a community," O'Flaherty said. "I know the community trusts us and I hope to live up to their highest expectations."

Deborah Rafeld is the current president of the board.

"I am excited about what the school district will be doing over the next four years in terms of facilities and growth," Rafeld said. "There are so many good things happening and I am excited to be a part of it."

During her eight years on the board, Rafeld has earned a degree in education and her teaching certificate. This year, she is teaching fifth grade at Buckeye Valley schools.

She is a teacher, a parent and an experienced board member, and she believes that makes her right for the job.

"I have learned so much about how the district is run over the past eight years," she said. "I have a son who just graduated from Delaware Hayes and a daughter who is there now. I wear a lot of different hats and I believe I bring that perspective to the school board."

Rafeld said the biggest challenge to the district is the constant change in state legislation, and she thinks all school districts in Ohio face the same challenges.

"Right when we think we know what we need to do, there is new legislation," she said. "We have a great superintendent and treasurer who keep on top of these things, but it is challenging to keep up with all the new changes."

Rafeld said the district will have the challenge of not only learning the new changes but educating the community about how new mandates and budget updates will affect the district.

"We want everyone to understand the changes and what those changes mean for the district," she said.

Rafeld said she is most excited about the expansions and renovations coming up due to the passage of May's bond issue.

"We have a lot of good things in place. We have great innovative things going on in the classroom, and we have upgrades in the facilities, and a lot of new opportunities on the high school level," she said. "I am looking forward to all of it."

Comments