IRSD school board welcomes new members to panel
Two new faces have joined the Indian River School District Board of Education, returning the panel to its full complement of 10 members. Both are graduates of Sussex Central High School. James “Jim” Fritz will represent District 1 in Georgetown, and Leolga Wright will represent District 3 in Millsboro.
After graduating from University of Delaware, Fritz taught within the district for six years before leaving in 1995 for the insurance, investments and mortgage business. Now, Fritz is an associate agent/loan officer in Dagsboro. His own daughter will attend SCHS next year.
“I think the biggest attribute that I bring is the financial background I have,” Fritz said, with a focus on aiming to “make sure the taxpayers’ money is being spent properly, making sure the kids and teacher have what they need to do their job. The most important thing is the kids, that they have the resources they need.”
As he lives in the school district and has many friends and acquaintances who are IRSD employees, Fritz said he was inspired as a taxpaying citizen to get involved firsthand and help run the district as he sees fit. At the encouragement of his neighbors, Fritz applied for the vacant position.
“I want people to be aware I don’t walk in with any preconceived notions. There’s no axe to grind. There no issue I come in with in mind,” said Fritz.
Fritz said he does have concerns with restrictions placed on teachers in regard to state testing, but his first goal is to become up-to-date on district issues.
Although he has never served on a school board before, Fritz has known some of his fellow board members in the community, as a consultant, client, sports coach or by attending school with their children.
A Millsboro resident since childhood, Leolga Wright is also a member of the Nanticoke Indian Association. She worked 34 years for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including around 15 years in management. Her own son also went through Indian River School District, so she knows many parents.
“I think it’s an interesting organization to be a part of. I’m hoping that it can continue in the way that it’s going,” said Wright. “I just would like to see it move forward in teaching and learning.”
Wright said she would like to see more parents get involved with the schools, where their children are doing so many incredible things.”
Having worked with Superintendent Susan Bunting, Wright serves on the IRSD Community Partnership Committee, a group that represents the interests of underrepresented student populations within the district.
“I can listen and be objective and … open-minded. I’m just honored to be selected to serve on it,” said Wright, who expressed pride in IR leadership, including in Bunting being named a National Superintendent of the Year finalist during the last school year.
Wright said she had also received encouragement from others to apply for the District 3 seat.
“I thought … if I can do the least little bit to make it a positive approach for the children, then that’s what I want to do,” said Wright, adding that she hopes that students will be comfortable enough to approach her with issues when she represents the board in public, such as at football or basketball games.
“I’m looking forward to working with both of them. They seem like very nice people,” said Charles Bireley, board president, noting that the new members must dive into their work with a referendum on new classrooms or a new school likely in 2013. “We have six people on the board with two or fewer years of service,” he emphasized. “That’s rare for Indian River.”
During a recent reorganizational meeting, Bireley was reelected as board president and Rodney Layfield was selected as the new vice president. Both new board members were sworn in at the organizational meeting July 3. Because they were appointed, rather than elected, their terms will expire June 30, 2013.
Wright will fill the remaining term of former board member Randall Hughes, who was recently appointed to the state Board of Education. Fritz fills the seat of former board member Robert Wilson, who did not seek re-election.
The next regular IRSD Board of Education meeting will be Tuesday, July 24, at 7 p.m. at Indian River High School.