Brandywine School District

A. Melina Gillis and John A. Skrobot III are running for election to the District D Seat on the
Brandywine School District Board of Education. Brandywine School District forwarded our request for
contact information to both candidates so we could reach out for responses. John A. Skrobot III did not

It should be noted that according to BSD that current Brandywine Board of Education President John
Skrobot (District F) is related to Candidate John A. Skrobot III (District D).

1. Please tell us what your connection and relationship is with the School District in which you are
seeking election to the Board of Education.

 Gillis: I began attending the Brandywine School District in the third grade, and am a
Brandywine High School Graduate. My husband and I moved from Hockessin so that
our daughters could attend a Brandywine School District School. I have two daughters
who are attending Concord High School. In each school that my daughters have
attended I have been active either in the PTA, Parent groups, or both. Being active in the
schools has allowed me to meet and work with many parents, teachers and principals. I
have enjoyed supporting the students, teachers and principals in their needs and
concerns, as well as in their successes and achievements.

 Skrobot III: No response

2. In your opinion, what is the purpose and function of an elected Board of Education?

 Gillis: I believe the purpose and function of an elected Board of Education member is to
know the needs of our students, schools and community and supporting them so that
their needs are met. I also believe that the Board should be responsive, connected and
active within the schools.

 Skrobot III:

3. What are your opinions on A) School Choice overall, B) Magnet Schools, and C) Charter Schools?

 Gillis:
i. School Choice: I am a strong supporter of School Choice. There are many
reasons why one chooses to choice, and that choice is really up to them. My
husband and I choiced both of our daughters for various reasons. One of the
reasons that my husband and I chose to choice our daughters was to keep them
attending the same school together.
ii. Magnet Schools: I see the advantage and the disadvantage of magnet schools. I
appreciate that students can attend a school where their interests and talents are
supported and strengthened through a more focused schedule. But there is also
a disadvantage where those students could be sharing their talents and interests
within their school district and feeder schools. Brandywine School District has
phenomenal talent and does not have to scout for them to attend our schools,
and we compete with magnet schools pertaining to the arts on a state wide level.
An example would be the number of BSD musicians accepted into All State
versus Students from Cab Calloway. The gap is very small and lessening every
iii. Charter Schools: Brandywine School District offers programs that are comparable
and have equal amounts of prestige. I do believe that it is up to the parent and
child on which type of school is the best fit. Our public schools offer comparable
and competitive programs with one another.

 Skrobot III:
i. School Choice: No response
ii. Magnet Schools: No response
iii. Charter Schools: No response

4. Where do you stand on school vouchers? How would they benefit or harm public education?

 Gillis: I see the need for vouchers in particular states, but when it comes to our state, I
can see how it could harm Public Education. Students and their families already have so
many choices of schools that if the State of Delaware implements School Vouchers, all
Schools will be affected. The benefit though would be that schools will have to “step
it up― to retain their students already attending as well as the students in the feeder

 Skrobot III: No response

5. Do you believe that poverty affects education and educational resources?

 Gillis: Yes

 Skrobot III: No response

 Why or Why Not?
i. Gillis: I do believe that poverty affects education and the resources available to
the schools. These schools are able to receive additional resources to help
support their needs as well as offer additional programs and activities to their
students. Making sure that the additional funds and resources are used
accordingly to help the students, school and teachers is the difficult part.

ii. Skrobot III: No response

6. Delaware provides special education supports and resources for children with higher levels of
need in grades 4 through 12 but not for children in grades K through 3. Should Delaware
expand support for special education needs to K-3 children? Why or why not?

 Gillis: Delaware should definitely provide special education support and resources to
children in grades K-3. If we are able to support them at a younger age it would make a
positive impact in their education and life. Also when giving them these resources other
needs may become evident and those needs can be met sooner than later, allowing for
greater success of siding in their needs.

 Skrobot III: No response

7. Below is an excerpt from a Baltimore Sun story summarizing recent legislation making its way
through the Maryland legislature focusing on suspension & expulsion policies for students in
Pre-K through 2nd grade. Please share your thoughts on this and how it could pertain to
Delaware schools.

 Gillis: This is something that is very important in all grades not just in the younger
grades and ages. All students who have been suspended or expelled should receive
support while out of school. Parents should also be a part of the process, starting with
the beginning steps of intervention. There should be steps in place to promote
improvement in the student’s behavior.

 Skrobot III: No response

8. Governor Carney has repeatedly said that the Delaware Department of Education will be
refocused as a support service for schools and districts. What are three items or services that
you would ask the Governor to prioritize?

 Gillis:
i. Making mental health counseling readily available to students and staff at all
times. Guidance counselors are wonderful and they have a positive impact on
the students, but having Mental Health Counselors at each school would be
beneficial. In the High Schools Counselors are available through the Wellness
Center, but many parents don’t have any idea that this resource is available.
Mental Health awareness is increasing and helping so many youth that are
struggling mentally or emotionally.
ii. Offering after school activities for students to be a part of other than sports.
There are many students who are latch key children and go home and are not
engaged with others. Getting them active in their schools will not only allow
them to form friendships, but it will also give them pride in their schools and
iii. Integrating special needs students and programs into the traditional classroom.
Students with special needs should not be secluded to their classroom, or to their
specific hallway or wing. When students are integrated they are an active part of
their student body. Integration in the classrooms allows for a diverse setting and
a greater understanding of all and offers more equal opportunities. Having
traditional and inclusion classrooms as well as Special education classroom can all
find a balance that can be beneficial to all.

 Skrobot III:
i. No response
ii. No response
iii. No response

9. Governor Carney's proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 places tens of millions of dollars of
State public education funds at risk of being eliminated. Now that the budget process is in the
General Assembly's hands, what words of advice do you have for our legislators?

 Gillis: This is a cause that needs to be addressed. Our schools depend on the state
funding that they receive. We do not want to continue to have to propose referendums
so that we can continue to offer the programs, training's and administer to the needs of
our students and teachers. Our children today are our future for tomorrow. We cannot
short change our future.

 Skrobot III: No response
10. Please share any additional thoughts or comments you would like us to share when we post
your responses and know that we sincerely thank you for taking the time to respond to our

 Gillis: I am not running for the District D Board Seat for personal gain. I am an involved
mom who wants to help make change happen within our schools, district and

 Skrobot III: No response