The Indian River School District will hold its board of education election on May 14, with two local women vying for a seat.
Incumbent Leolga Wright of Millsboro has been challenged by Long Neck resident Paulette Rappa. Up for grabs is Wright's District 3 seat, which holds a five-year term.
Rappa is originally from Gloucester Township, N.J. For 16 years, she taught English and worked with at-risk youth in Camden City, N.J. She now works in Sussex County for the agency Connecting Generations in its Seasons of Respect program, which focuses on anti-bullying and character education. She is also president of the Parent Teacher Organization at Long Neck Elementary School, where her daughter is in the fifth grade. Once a week, she travels back to Camden City to continue her work with at-risk children.
"I have a vested interest in continuing what the district has already established," Rappa said. "It's a good system, but no system is immune to improvement. I know educational reform is on the national agenda and Delaware is in the vanguard because we've received Race to the Top funding. It's an exciting time to be involved in education."
Rappa said if she is elected, she'd like to focus on school security, developing more social services in middle schools and maintaining a core faculty.
Rappa lives in Longneck with her husband, William Doll. The couple has eight children, four of which are Rappa's stepchildren.
"Although I was not born and bred in Sussex County, education and educational needs are universal," she said. "To understand how a child processes and learns crosses borders, and that's my strength."
Wright is a native Sussex Countian who graduated from Sussex Central High School. Her son graduated from SCHS in 2008. She is retired after working for the Delaware Department of Agriculture for more than 33 years. She was appointed to the IRSD BOE in July 2012, replacing Randall L. Hughes, who moved up to the state BOE.
"I've been involved in the Indian River School District forever," Wright said. "This [appointment] was an opportunity for me to give back some of my time for the good job I perceived they'd done while my son was in school."
Wright said she wants to be around for the expansion of IRSD's kindergarten, which will move to a full-day schedule in September. She said this will require construction, new classrooms, hiring teachers and staff support, and she wants to see the process come full circle.
"Education is important," Wright said. "I think the school board has a vital importance in making sure the rules and regulations of the state Department of Education are carried forward. I was fortunate to be appointed and I'd like to go back full time as a board member."
Page 2 of 2 - The terms of Shaun Fink, James Fritz, and Rodney Layfield also expire this year. However, these board members re-filed and were unopposed, therefore there is no election for their seats. New terms begin on July 1.