Layton wins BOE seat
District 1 race too close to call
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.