Lay­ton wins BOE seat

District 1 race too close to call

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - By VIC­TO­RIA WIN­GATE vwingate@ches­

CAM­BRIDGE — With early vot­ing and elec­tion day num­bers tal­lied, one of two Board of Elec­tion races in Dorch­ester County is too close to call with ab­sen­tee bal­lots yet to be counted.

District 1 in­cum­bent Glenn Bram­ble leads op­po­nent Robert Kirkley 1,574 votes to 1,484 votes, re­spec­tively.

So far, the Board of Elec­tions has re­ceived 759 ab­sen­tee bal­lots, but a break­down of how many of those come from District 1 was not avail­able. They will be­gin count­ing the bal­lots on Thurs­day.

In District 5, Laura Lay­ton won with 1,928 votes over Von­cia Molock who re­ceived 700 votes. Lay­ton will re­place cur­rent Board of Education Pres­i­dent Philip Bram­ble.

“I am so ex­cited to have re­ceived so much sup­port from the com­mu­nity,” Lay­ton said upon re­ceiv­ing the re­sults. “I am hon­ored that the

com­mu­nity has placed their faith in me, and I look for­ward to serv­ing chil­dren, par­ents, staff, and com­mu­nity as a mem­ber of the Board of Education.”

Dis­cus­sion of the post-La­bor Day start or­der from Gover­nor Larry Ho­gan is likely to be a first or­der of busi­ness un­der the new board. In the Oc­to­ber reg­u­lar meet­ing, it was de­cided that dis­cus­sions would be de­ferred un­til after the elec­tion.

Bram­ble is vice pres­i­dent of the board of education and is serv­ing his sec­ond term as a mem­ber. In his first term, he served as board pres­i­dent.

He was born and raised in Dorch­ester County, and has owned DSA Con­tract­ing in Cam­bridge for 45 years. In ad­di­tion to con­tribut­ing to the com­mu­nity as a lo­cal busi­ness owner, he has served on the Dorch­ester County Coun­cil, Cam­bridge Plan­ning and Zon­ing Com­mis­sion, and the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Crit­i­cal Area Com­mis­sion.

Bram­ble be­lieves the cur­rent mem­bers of the board of education are work­ing well with Su­per­in­ten­dent of Schools Henry Wag­ner and staff in keep­ing costs low while still pro­vid­ing a qual­ity education to stu­dents.

“Main­tain­ing com­pet­i­tive salaries for teach­ers and sup­port staff has been one of our ob­jec­tives,” said Bram­ble.

If re-elected, Bram­ble has a list of goals he in­tends to con­tinue work­ing to­ward.

“Achieve smaller class sizes, more teach­ers, ad­e­quate and en­vi­ron­men­tally safe schools, in­crease se­cu­rity and max­i­mize the dis­ci­pline that is gov­erned by the state; re­view all the pro­grams and en­sure they are ef­fec­tive in pro­mot­ing our stu­dents for a bet­ter education; cap­i­tal­ize even more on the Dorch­ester Ca­reer and Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter; find ad­di­tional ways of par­ent in­volve­ment. These are just a few of my pri­or­i­ties,” Bram­ble said.

Kirkley’s back­ground in education in­cludes sev­eral years of ser­vice on the St. Mary’s County Board of Education, be­gin­ning in 1987, and 10 years of ser­vice with the Mar yland As­so­ci­a­tion of Boards of Education. He was pres­i­dent of MABE for the 1996-97 school year.

He and his wife have owned prop­erty on Tay­lors Is­land for 45 years, and moved to Dorch­ester County per­ma­nently in 2000. He cur­rently serves as paster of the Church Creek Charge.

Kirkley said that in­di­vid­u­al­ized in­struc­tion is the best way to serve the stu­dents, and he is strongly against the Com­mon Core cur­ricu­lum.

He said cur­ricu­lum should chal­lenge the more gifted learn­ers, which will also el­e­vate those stu­dents at the lower end of the grad­ing scale by giv­ing them a goal to reach.

“Com­mon Core hand­i­caps the ex­cel­lent stu­dent be­cause it is not ad­dressed to him or her. At the same time, it ne­glects the stu­dents at the low end of the scale,” he said. “It teaches to the av­er­age stu­dent.”

Kirkley also ad­vo­cates for a push to­ward post-se­condary education, though he said vo­ca­tional education through Dorch­ester Ca­reer and Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter is im­por­tant.

“We have too many stu­dents here who have no long-range goals ex­cept to get out of school as quickly as they can and get work­ing,” said Kirkley. “They get good jobs and they have good in­come, but they’re not re­ally be­ing chal­lenged for their po­ten­tial.”

Lay­ton was a Dorch­ester County ed­u­ca­tor for 33 years, and has lived in the county for 45 years. She serves as the pres­i­dent of the Dorch­ester County Re­tired Ed­u­ca­tors group, a po­si­tion from which she will now step down to avoid a con­flict of in­ter­est.

“Education is who I am,” she said. “My life is education. I re­tired in 2008 and joined DCRE. I be­came pres­i­dent in 2012, and I’ve been pres­i­dent for three years.

Education is what I think is the ba­sic im­por­tant thing in our so­ci­ety. I think it’s the foundation of all the rest of our so­ci­ety.”

A ma­jor is­sue Lay­ton finds with the school sys­tem is what she terms the dis­mal teacher morale and high turnover rate. She aims to cre­ate so­lu­tions that will make teach­ers hap­pier to work for Dorch­ester County Public Schools.

“They’re out there to do the best job for the stu­dents, and if they’re hap­pier, they’re go­ing to do a bet­ter job. We have to find a way, and it’s not nec­es­sar­ily salar y,” said Lay­ton. “I’m not ad­vo­cat­ing rais­ing salaries. I’m ad­vo­cat­ing chang­ing the at­mos­phere in the build­ings and in the whole learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment.”

Speak­ing from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, Lay­ton sug­gested chang­ing the at­mos­phere in the schools by hav­ing ad­min­is­tra­tors be more sup­port­ive of teach­ers in their dis­ci­plinar y de­ci­sions.

“The teacher needs a bet­ter sup­port sys­tem from the ad­min­is­tra­tors. That is cer­tainly one of the ways, if not the main way, that teacher morale can be im­proved,” she said. “It is very dis­heart­en­ing when a teacher sends a stu­dent to the of­fice for be­ing dis­re­spect­ful or dis­rup­tive, and lit­er­ally five min­utes later that stu­dent is back in the class­room. It is ver y dis­heart­en­ing and de­mor­al­iz­ing be­cause the teacher as­sumes that the administrator is not tak­ing him or her se­ri­ously.”

Lay­ton also ad­vo­cates for smaller class sizes, more in­di­vid­u­al­ized education, re­duced test­ing time and truly in­vest­ing re­sources in education. She said she re­al­izes that some of these things are de­pen­dent on state and fed­eral man­dates.

“Smaller class sizes are the key. The more per­sonal in­ter­ac­tion a child gets, the bet­ter you can suit their needs be­cause not ev­ery stu­dent learns the same way,” said Lay­ton. “Ob­vi­ously, money is a fac­tor. If we’re go­ing to at­tract new busi­nesses, have ed­u­cated cit­i­zens, if we’re go­ing to grow as a county we have to ed­u­cate our kids from day one. We have to put the money in to make these classes smaller, and par­tic­u­larly at the el­e­men­tar y level.”

Be­yond tra­di­tional education, Lay­ton said she feels the Dorch­ester Ca­reer and Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter is un­der­uti­lized.

“I think higher education is im­por­tant, but I think you also have to be re­al­is­tic and look at the pay scale for our skilled workers. There is good money out there in the skilled trades. That is one of the ar­eas where we need to do a bet­ter job,” Lay­ton said.

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