Debranski: ‘The primary focus’

Published 9:22 pm Wednesday, October 29, 2014

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Suffolk News-Herald has invited candidates for all of the city’s contested offices to submit 400-word columns soliciting the votes of Suffolk citizens on Election Day. A different race has been highlighted on this page each day Since Oct. 24. All of the candidates were notified of the opportunity at the same time via email, and follow-up telephone calls were made to verify receipt of the emails. Today’s page features the School Board election in the Suffolk Borough, which pits incumbent Michael Debranski against challenger Thelma Hinton. Both candidates’ columns appear below. Subscribers to the News-Herald’s daily email will receive a special newsletter in their inboxes on Friday, and it will include links to all of the candidates’ columns, along with links to the candidate profiles newsroom staffers have written about the candidates. To have your name added to the daily email distribution, send an email to

By Michael Debranski

My name is Michael J. Debranski; I am a candidate for reelection to the Suffolk School Board, Suffolk Borough. Elected to the Suffolk School Board in 2006, I have served for 8½ years. I currently serve as the Suffolk School Board Chairman and have served in that capacity the past three years.

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I earned a bachelor’s degree from The College of William and Mary, master’s degree and certificate of advanced studies degree from ODU and doctorate in educational administration from Virginia Tech.

I believe my education and experience have given me a unique understanding of the problems and needs of our Suffolk School System. I spent 25 of my 34 years in education in Suffolk Public Schools as a teacher, coach and principal.

  • Assistant principal, Booker T. Washington MS, 1 year
  • Assistant principal, Southwestern MS, 1 year
  • Principal, Southwestern MS, 4 years
  • Principal, Suffolk HS, 5 years
  • Principal, Lakeland HS, 2 years.

Following seven years as principal, Bayside HS, I purchased and established in Suffolk a business with gross sales of $350,000 and turned it into a $1,000,000 gross-sales enterprise. I know and understand the principals of good financial management.

I currently serve as ODU Teacher-in-Residence Advisor.

I believe the two most critical issues facing Suffolk Public Schools today are the following:

  • Improving academic achievement: The key to improving academic achievement includes knowing, understanding, addressing societal problems which affect our students who are struggling to learn but come to us unprepared.
  • Improving teacher salaries: Good teachers produce a better-educated student; to keep good teachers, we need to pay them fairly.

The Suffolk school system has not been able to keep financial pace with surrounding school districts. Virginia’s State Department of Education listed 12 cities’ financial funding in the following neighboring school districts: Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Isle of Wight, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Southampton, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, York. Suffolk financially ranked 10th among these 12 local school districts.

I have always believed that the heart of any city was its children. If the public schools are not the primary focus of a city, both will suffer. This is a major issue separating the two elected bodies in Suffolk.

I believe that every school system has the responsibility to provide every child the opportunity to achieve his/her highest potential.

Please vote Nov. 4 to reelect me as your Suffolk School Board representative.