McGee wants to see ef­forts to im­prove dis­trict con­tinue

Kent County News - - NEWS - By DANIEL DIVILIO ddivilio@thekent­coun­tynews.com

CH­ESTER­TOWN — With Kent County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion mem­bers hav­ing made some very dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions pos­si­ble over the last two years, Pres­i­dent Tr­ish McGee is seek­ing another term because she wants to see how they turn out in the long run.

McGee is run­ning for a sec­ond four-year term on the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion. She was elected in 2014 and has served as pres­i­dent for the last two years.

As­so­ciate ed­i­tor of the Kent County News, she cov­ered the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion for more than a decade be­fore de­cid­ing to run. She also spends a lot of time in schools as a field hockey coach and as the News sports re­porter.

Hav­ing lived here for most of her life, McGee at­tended Kent County Pub­lic Schools, though she went away to board­ing school for her last two years of high school. She then at­tended Wash­ing­ton Col­lege, grad­u­at­ing with a de­gree in his­tory.

“I thought I knew a lot go­ing in just because I had at­tended and re­ported on school board meet­ings for years,” McGee said of be­ing on the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion. “It’s to­tally dif­fer­ent on the other side. Not that I didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate that there was hard work in­volved. I guess I didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate how much was in­volved.”

McGee said four years is not enough to gain a real foothold on any elected po- sition. She said of­fice hold­ers spend the first two years get­ting ac­cli­mated to their posts.

In look­ing at her first term, McGee said she was part of some very big de­ci­sions. They in­cluded clos­ing Milling­ton and Wor­ton ele­men­tary schools, sign­ing Su­per­in­ten­dent Karen Couch to another four-year con­tract and award­ing the stu­dent trans­porta­tion con­tract to a new ven­dor, only to see that turn out to be a dis­as­ter.

She wants to see what progress re­sults from those ef­forts. How does the ele­men­tary school con­sol­i­da­tion work out over the next four years? How does the dis­trict pro­vide for a smaller population of stu­dents as stu­dents’ in­di­vid­ual needs be­come greater?

McGee said the stu­dent en­roll­ment in the dis­trict has been de­clin­ing for 20 years. She said she is not sure how the dis­trict can turn that around, nor does she feel that re­spon­si­bil­ity should fall solely on the dis­trict’s shoul­ders.

McGee thinks some par­ents opt­ing to send their chil­dren to pri­vate schools feel their chil­dren can­not get the same qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion in pub­lic schools.

She dis­agrees with that no­tion. She sees it daily in her in­ter­ac­tions with stu­dents.

“They’re achiev­ing. They’re re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zens. They’re go­ing to good col­leges. And they’re get­ting great ed­u­ca­tions,” McGee said.

“And I think pub­lic school’s the real world. You’re go­ing to have to work with some­one that doesn’t look like you and doesn’t think like you,” she said. “So I think it’s bet­ter if you get in­tro­duced to dif­fer­ent­ness at a younger age.”

She also wants to see test scores im­prove and the dis­trict hire a more di­verse staff.

McGee thinks peo­ple should vote for her because she has the ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially with what the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion has dealt with over the last two years.

“I think we’ve tack­led some of the most chal­leng­ing is­sues that any school dis­trict can face. We’ve been thrown a few curve­balls, that’s for sure,” McGee said.

This ar­ti­cle is the first in a se­ries of in­ter­views with the 2018 can­di­dates for Kent County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion. The pri­mary is June 26; the gen­eral elec­tion is Nov. 6.

TR­ISH MCGEE

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