The Capital School District Board of Education unanimously voted to elect former Vice President Kay Dietz-Sass as the new board president Wednesday night. The board also welcomed new member Matthew Lindell.


The Capital School District Board of Education unanimously voted to elect former Vice President Kay Dietz-Sass as the new board president Wednesday night.

The board also welcomed new member Matthew Lindell, who was sworn in by former President Phillip Martino at the outset of the board’s last meeting. Lindell defeated former board member Kiran Clements in the May election.

Martino was nominated to become vice president by board member Dr. Raymond Paylor, and he, Dietz-Sass and Martino voted yes for that nomination. Lindell and board member Brian Lewis voted no.

But, with Martino’s majority vote the nominations for vice president came to a close.

School boards across the state reorganize each July, the first month of the new fiscal year.

Dietz-Sass, director of public affairs for the city of Dover, said every organization could benefit from some changes.

“Over the past couple of years many ideas have come up but not many made it to fruition due in part to prioritizing our efforts,” she said. “Now that many of our priorities are in action, there are a few things I want to follow through with to allow additional transparency that is a concern for some.

“Also the importance of working together as a board, cohesively, will allow us to be more productive,” she said. “I hope to bridge some of the communication gaps that exist, even internally amongst us as a board.”

Martino had been president for the past 2011-2012 school year, the third one-year term he has served. Clements had been the board president for the 2010-2011 year.

“One year was more than enough for me,” Martino said of his last term.

Martino was referring to a few bumps in the road the school board had to deal with this past school year.

In February, for instance, the Capital school board had to re-vote on a 5 percent raise it gave administrators this school year because the Office of the Attorney General declared that the panel’s August 2011 vote on the matter was illegal. That Aug. 24 vote violated public notice laws because the board added it as a last minute item.

In May, the Capital Board of Education’s decision to give Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas a two-year extension with one year left on his contract generated caused a 3-2 split on the board, with Dietz-Sass and Lewis concerned about rushing a contract with time to spare.

But Martino said Thomas’ request for an extension was a no brainer given Thomas’ track record. It was better for the board to act now rather than wait until six months prior to the expiration of his contract.

The board also had to oversee an extensive overhaul of Dover High School. Capital’s flagship school was one of 10 schools in Delaware’s Partnership Zone, created as part of the state’s $119 million Race to the Top federal award. Race to the Top is President Obama’s national effort to improve schools through money from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.

Capital hired two veteran educators to be the two Dover High co-principals that will attempt to turn around the flagship in a dramatic restructuring plan.

After those things and more, Martino said he welcomed the change in leadership Wednesday night. He said Dietz-Sass was ready given her time on the board and her previous role as vice president.

“It’s something she wanted to do,” he said. “And public relations is what she does for the city. I think she’ll do a good job.”

Dietz-Sass said one of her first acts as president was to encourage newer board members to become involved in some of the trainings and other meetings that are offered in Delaware for school board members.

“It helps educate us on processes, laws and guidelines to follow,” she said. “An important trait in any board member (or officer) is to serve to our capacity, attending events, and other opportunities to represent everyone in our community.

“I am not a perfect person, but I try my best to be upright. The same thing goes for our district; we may not be perfect, but if we can be upright and forthcoming, we can continue to grow into the image that we need to. There are a few things we all can work on – summing it up with the quote, ‘You learn to listen, and you listen to learn.’”