HENRY CLAMPITT for Red Clay School Board

Henry Clampitt                Email:  Henry@Clampitt4RedClay.com

Priorities for the Red Clay School Board

Red Clay has many strong points -- and challenges.  With a fresh focus on student achievement and fiscal matters the school board can help make our district an outstanding home for students, families and the community at large. 

I believe the role of a school board is about governance and oversight.  It is not about management.  A board defines district goals and high-level strategies.  It operates through policies, not the individual action of its members, and those policies in turn govern the management of the district by the Superintendent.   And as the public’s trustee, a board must ensure the prudent use of tax dollars in our schools.  With a sustained focus on this core role, a high performing school board will have the effect of empowering district employees to teach our children and manage our resources with professional freedom, recognition and respect.

As a school board member, I will focus on these priorities:

Excellent SchoolsHenry Clampitt Red Clay

Excellent schools deliver significant student growth.  They are safe, diverse and inclusive.  Red Clay is on this path, with great students and staff.  Many of our schools have great community reputations but we have room to improve.  Our board should step up its focus on results and community satisfaction, so that every school has a great reputation. 

Red Clay has made progress in areas such as special-needs inclusion, college/career readiness and dropout reduction.  I think we have additional opportunity for improvement in the areas of early literacy and closing the achievement gap.  I firmly believe we must ensure that every student is reading at grade level to be prepared for their future.  I will bring new energy and urgency to the board to do its part in ensuring that the district succeeds in all areas.

The district administration has prepared a new Strategic Plan for 2017-2022, and I have attended nearly every public workshop to provide community input.  Few board members and no other candidates have done that.  I pledge to be actively engaged and bring a fresh voice to the board when it comes to focus on Strategic Goals and acting on the sustained collaboration which is needed to reach them.   Our students and families deserve nothing less.

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School ChoiceHenry Clampitt Red Clay

Consider this … across our seven Red Clay high schools more than half of the enrolled students are in the four magnet/charter schools.  In addition, many students have “choiced” across attendance-zone high schools to enroll in unique programs such as International Baccalaureate, college dual enrollment, and career/technical pathways.   Choice “is” Red Clay.  Our magnet and charter schools are a point of pride to many in our community and I will fully support these schools as a board member.

Public school choice is immensely popular.  I constantly hear that we have a “district system” of unique public schools rather than one-size-fits-all programs, and that our community loves it.  I will resist any diluting of choice options for Red Clay; instead, I will focus on matching what we offer with what our community wants.   When a family looks for “their” school we must ensure that they have equitable opportunities among excellent schools. 

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Fiscal ResponsibilityHenry Clampitt Red Clay

Red Clay’s budget is large … $250-million and growing!   Our funds come from your taxes:  state ($127m), local ($112m) and federal ($12m).   And believe it or not the local portion has risen more than 30% since 2013.

In my view, the school board must ensure that your taxes are spent prudently.  Given the size of the budget, the board needs a member with financial experience and perspective which it lacks today.   I believe I can fill that gap due to my experience as a charter school board member and treasurer, my state school-finance training and my career experience in business management and corporate development. 

A key national issue is the “vouchers” debate.  Well-meaning people believe we need vouchers to help disadvantaged families but I respectfully disagree.  I support using our school tax money only for our public schools:  traditional, magnet, charter and vo-tech. 

A key Delaware issue is the "tax referendum" debate.  Recent proposals by the Governor and by the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC) have sought to eliminate referenda votes and to leave school tax decisions to the discretion of the school board.  I do not agree.  I support community control over school taxes through referenda, and I believe that such votes provide essential feedback.  If our legislators nevertheless give the school board more taxing authority, then we urgently need an experienced member on the board who will support using new taxes as a last resort after exhausting other opportunities to reduce cost.  I will strongly serve the Red Clay community in this regard.

A key Red Clay issue is the “redistricting” debate.  The WEIC has put far too much emphasis on its redistricting proposal which will cost Red Clay more that $10-million per year – a 10% increase in taxes.  Although Red Clay has had a seat at the table, it has not been vocal enough to stop the redistricting juggernaut.  I promise, if elected, to actively defend the Red Clay taxpayers from this ill-advised proposal. 

We need WEIC to be focused on helping our Wilmington students, not on redistricting.  There are plenty of other great priorities for WEIC to focus on, such as weighted unit funding from the state to support resources for disadvantaged students. 

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Board CollaborationHenry Clampitt Red Clay

I have learned that open, transparent face-to-face public collaboration among board members is essential to good governance.  Our community deserves to hear full dialog among all board members before a vote, having them explain individual views and actively listening to each other.  We have many names for this -- consensus, collaboration, fiduciary duty, respect – and it must happen.  It is a public duty.

Since 2009 I have attended dozens of Red Clay board meetings.  In recent years I have witnessed a marked decline in open collaboration among board members -- often only hearing from one or two before a vote.  This is unacceptable and should change.  If elected I will encourage transparency and full participation in the board’s public deliberative processes.  The public should always know where the board members stand on issues. This is the kind of transparency our community expects and deserves.


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Election Date: May 9th 2017 ... Poll Locations: Red Clay School Buildings
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