Four seek three seats for school board

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MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – Four people are running for three seats on the Middle Township School Board in the fall election.

Incumbents Calvin L. Back Sr., George L. Delollis and Burgess R. “Butch” Hamer and newcomer Edward Dagney are looking to serve a 3-year term.

The Election is Nov. 5.

Burgess R. “Butch” Hamer

Hamer of Cape May Court House is a busy guy.

He serves on several organizations, including two motorcycle clubs, and he has been on the school board for nearly a decade.

Hamer says that his primary reason for wanting to continue being a school board is he knows many of the students.

Before retiring as a Middle Township police officer, he worked in the school district for six years as a school resource officer. That gave him an insider’s look at the school, Hamer said.

He has served on the school board for nine years. Hamer joined the Board of Education in 1992 and then ran again after he retired from the Middle Township Police Department six years ago.

There’s no one particular area that the school board needs to put its focus.

“Everything needs to be worked on,” Hamer said.

And he says that part of his responsibility is to better education.

Hamer dismisses any accomplishments for his time on the school board.

“We all have to do a better job,” he said, everyone from the school board members to the superintendent.

Hamer is heavily involved in the community. He is the president of the AARP 1182 Chapter; vice president of the Southern New Jersey Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club; a board member of the Blue Knights New Jersey Chapter V Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club; board member of the Sunset Beach Sportsman's Club; and a board member of The Free Meal Center.

He also runs Hamer’s School of Karate, a martial-arts studio he says is the longest running in Cape May County. It’s been in operation for 40 years, he said.

A graduate from Middle Township High School, Hamer served in the Air Force for four years. Hamer also attended Burlington County Police Academy. He was a Middle Township police officer for 26 years.

He also organizes the National Night Out, which is intended to raise crime and drug prevention awareness and boost neighborhood spirit.

He is a choir member at the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Cape May Court House.

Hamer is engaged to Lesley Watson. Hamer has two grown children, Brandon and Timothy.

George L. Delollis

George L. Delollis of Cape May Court House is running for a fourth term on the Board of Education.

One of his accomplishments is maintaining and upgrading the schools, athletic fields, The Performing Arts Center and district-wide solar energy project.

He's also proud of maintaining "an excellent education for our students while keeping the tax rate stable against all odds, all during a recession and down economy.

"Our cost per pupil is approximately $11,000, one of the lowest in South Jersey," he said in a prepared statement. "With the help of an invaluable teaching and support staff, the board has been able to provide our students with an outstanding education without spending nearly as much money as surrounding schools."

As a board member, he said, he has also helped retain and invest in professional teaching staff by reimbursing them with tuition and professional development.

 While he has accomplishments during his time, he is worried about the district.

“Among our biggest concerns are the onerous and expensive new teacher evaluation requirements passed on to us by the state without adequate funding to carry them through,” Delollis said. (See related story.) “Another concern is the expanding costs of health care.  Additionally, the decline in enrollment is a concern, making the need to move to the school choice program even more important.”

The Interdistrict Public School Choice Program is where a school district allows students from other municipalities to attend school there for free.

Delollis has been a school board member since 2003. He is a Middle Township High School graduate and attended Stockton College.

He is director of sales at Coldwell Banker James C. Otton Real Estate.

Delollis is married to Margie and they have two children, Louis and Leigh, both Middle Township High School graduates.

Calvin L. Back Sr.

Calvin Back Sr. of Cape May Court House has been on the school board for 51 years. He said he wants to continue serving.

“I have no problems. I am in good health,” he said.

Back has been the school board president for around 15 years, and he has attended at least 90 percent of the meetings in the past 51 years, he said.

Not much has changed in his five decades of service. But he has seen smaller classes and bigger administration.

He said the school does well in mathematics, literature, history and other courses, but languages being taught at the school district could be improved.

“We should be able to educate all kinds,” he said.

Back said he is concerned with the declining the student population. More families are moving away, he indicated.

He is also worried about a new evaluation system that would determine the tenure of teachers.

He is a retired Middle Township fire official for fire companies serving Cape May Court House, Swainton, Green Creek and Goshen. Back is a volunteer firefighter with the Cape May Court House Volunteer Fire Co.

A Middle Township High School gradate, he attended fire school. He is a widower and has three children, Calvin, Carl and Donald.

Edward Dagney

Edward Dagney of Green Creek is the newcomer to the race for the school board.

Several challenges face the school district that prompted him to throw his hat into the ring: money; losing more than $1 million attributed to poor attendance in the school district; continual staff cuts; and improving the school district’s rating based on the state standardized test scores.

He is concerned about funding, attendance and technology.

“There were many issues discussed during the strategic planning session that I will focus on,” he said. “I attended the school district strategic planning sessions to better understand the wants and needs of the community, administration, teachers and staff. Focusing on the quality of education, continuous process evaluations and improvements are important to continue to provide quality programs.”

Earlier this year, the school board hosted sessions to get input for a strategic plan that would chart the future of the district.

“What I sometimes have seen is a lack of appreciation for the concerns of other and a defensive or non-responsiveness,” he said. “My view is that if someone comes to the board with a concern/issue their viewpoint will be considered and responded to.”

Dagney is a graduate of Wildwood Catholic High School and received a political science degree from Stockton College. He also has a master’s military arts and operations from Air University.

Dagney, 47, is a financial manager at the 177 Fighter Wing, which is at the Atlantic City International Airport, in Egg Harbor Township.

Dagney served in Afghanistan from Sept. 28, 2011-April 4 2012. He has also worked with the Superior Court Family Division Cape May/Atlantic and has handled court mediation.

He has been involved at St Ann in Wildwood with various organizations, coaching and doing volunteer activities.

Dagney is married to Christine and they have daughters, Emily, Kelly and Erin.

In Dennis Township, there are three, 3-year seats open on the Board of Education.

Incumbents Patricia Lynn Ziolkowski and Tara Leith are seeking another term and Jamie Lynn VanArtsdalen and Dawn M. McDaniel have also thrown their hats in to the ring.

Giovanna M. Capuano and James Manlandro Jr. are seeking to fill one unexpired 1-year term on the Dennis Township School Board.

The uncontested Avalon Board of Education race will include incumbents John Leonard Richardson and Kimberly Schiela for two, 3-year seats.

School board member John McAllister II is seeking re-election on the Stone Harbor School Board, a 3-year spot without opposition on the ballot.

In Woodbine, incumbents Melissa Rodriguez and Donald Jenkins and Gregory Hudgens, Heather L. Watkins-Jones and Adelina Feliciano are looking to fill three, 3-year seats on the school board.

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