Kitta: More Support for Teachers, Better Capital Improvement Planning, Fundamental to Campaign for Stafford School Board
Mark Kitta, candidate for the Falmouth seat on the Stafford County School Board, says he was motivated to run for the board after observing some of the major problems in the schools. Among the issues he wishes to address are: the teacher turnover rate, poor budget oversight and planning and most importantly to Kitta – addressing the planning behind the “Stafford County Rebuild Project.”
Kitta is not affiliated with a particular political party. In fact, he believes politics should be taken out of the school board decisions.
“I was approached by a number of political parties and I respectfully declined their endorsement,” he says. “I gave them the same answer; I’m more interested in providing for the citizens of Falmouth and ultimately the citizens of Stafford County then I am a political party of their agenda.”
Kitta says he is passionate about the “Stafford Rebuild Project” because it is dealing with a large amount of money and he says the plans were poorly communicated with the public.
“They’re not actually rebuilding the high school, they’re building a new school behind it and they’re demolishing a $36 million asset,” says Kitta. “That’s 250,000 square feet that they are going to bulldoze into the ground and make it into a parking lot.”
He says he supported the original plan, which was to build a high school on the newly acquired property of Ewalt Farm off of Clift Farm road.
“In refocusing Stafford High School, they were going to build a career and technical education center, which would alleviate a lot of the overcrowding in the high schools,” he says. “It would take the career and technical education out of each high school and around 25,000-30,000 square feet in those high schools would be opened up for more classrooms with the (career and technical center) coming down to Stafford.”
Kitta says the Capital Improvements Plan is misusing the public’s funds by asking for $65 million in 10 years to build a new career and technical education center.
“The initial cost of building the new high school on the Ewalt Property was $83 million. Building the new school behind the existing Stafford High School, they didn’t have to do all the infrastructure improvements and they could use existing fields, which lowered the cost to $67 million,” says Kitta.
“Tomorrow wasn’t thought about in the decisions that were made for today,” he says. “Ultimately, it’s going to cost the citizens almost a $100 million dollars between demolishing that $36 million building and $65 million for a new career and technical education center.”
While Kitta says that he agrees that Stafford needed a new high school, he believes the school board and the board of supervisors should have considered long-term planning.
“If I were on the board, I would push to save the existing Stafford High School and renovate it for the CTE* programs,” Kitta says. “It would cost about $40 million less than what their current proposal is.”
Kitta says that the planning behind the building plan was poorly planned and communicated to the people of Stafford.
“There were only two public town hall meetings and people, to this day, when you tell them that part of the plan is to tear down the existing high school, their eyes get big and they look at me and say ‘What are you talking about?’”
He says that is something he hopes to bring to the board, open communication and a refocus on the problems that affect the public.
“It is important that the school system and the school board encourage partnering the schools with local businesses,” says Kitta. “In doing that, you promote volunteers from local business coming in and helping the schools, but then you also open up job opportunities for your juniors and seniors and then opportunities for them when they graduate.”
Kitta also says he would like to revive the adopt-a-classroom program, if he is elected. With the program, people are invited to sponsor classrooms to support teachers and students. The funds provide financial and moral support to the classrooms.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of teachers here who’s children were able to benefit from these donations (which) can be as little as $10 or $20, but an extra $10 or $20 go to that teacher and they are able to use it for the classroom and it goes a long way,” he says. “I believe that would be a great way for citizens to actually help classrooms, help teachers and help schools.”
*CTE: career and technical education