Mitnick: Experience needed

Published 9:17 pm Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of stories about School Board candidates. Chuckatuck candidates ran on Oct. 1, the Cypress candidate ran on Oct. 8, and the Holy Neck candidate ran on Oct. 15. Look for Suffolk on Oct. 29.

David Mitnick, 64, lists four reasons he’s running for election: his experience, his passion for public education, his dedication to public service and because he has the time.

When he came out of college in 1971, Mitnick served three years in the U.S. Army after choosing to enlist instead of potentially being drafted, he said.


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He used his GI benefits to further his education, then spent 24 years with Norfolk Public Schools as an elementary school teacher and counselor, middle school assistant principal, high school counselor and adult education principal.

He then spent five years with the Newport News system as a program administrator, Mitnick said, before coming to Suffolk Public Schools in 2003 and working as a high school counselor until his 2010 retirement.

Meanwhile, Mitnick joined the Suffolk Education Foundation board in 2008 and is currently serving his third term as president.

“I have seen how different school systems are run,” Mitnick said. “That experience, I think, is really important.”

Funding issues with the city boil down to communication, according to Mitnick. The School Board needs to take an agreed-upon position to City Council, he said, and “cooperation and collaboration” between the two bodies needs to continue year-round, “not just at budget time.”

If elected, Mitnick said, meeting with Sleepy Hole’s councilman, Roger Fawcett, and “forging a partnership to work cooperatively and provide the assistance that’s needed to Suffolk Public Schools,” would be priorities.

“The biggest issue facing the school system right now is retention of teachers, and it goes hand-in-hand with salaries,” Mitnick said.

He said he would look at services the district and the city could share. “Perhaps those could be provided jointly by the city as a cost-saving measure,” he said.

“If the city would agree not to reduce our budget for sharing services, then that would allow additional funds to add to teacher raises.”

Mitnick says he gets the impression anybody who can afford it avoids sending children to the city’s public schools. “I myself have a very positive impression of Suffolk Public Schools,” he said. “I worked there long enough to know they have very dedicated teachers.”

To solve the district’s perception problem, Mitnick suggests educating real estate agents about the district’s “quality programs,” such as Project Lead the Way, International Baccalaureate and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities such as the new biomedical sciences program, “one of the first of its kind.”

Mitnick predicted the number of fully accredited schools would rise next year when students adjust to new reading assessments, and he says he supports Superintendent Deran Whitney, who he believes “has made changes in the school system that are for the better.”