Indian River’s newest school board members have deep district roots

SUSSEX COUNTY – Two board of education vacancies in the Indian River School District are now filled by district residents with backgrounds in special education and finance.

Millsboro resident Dr. Heather Statler, a counselor at Delaware Technical Community College Owens Campus, was selected at a special school board meeting Aug. 10 to fill the District 3 seat held for 13 years by Nina Lou Bunting, who resigned upon her appointment to the State Board of Education.

On July 27, Georgetown resident Gerald Peden, a financial advisor for Fulton Financial Advisors, was selected to fill the District 2 board vacancy created by Shaun Fink’s abrupt resignation in late May of this year.

Special to the Sussex County Post Dr. Heather Statler of Millsboro was appointed to the Indian River School District board of education during a special board meeting Aug. 10. She will assume the seat on the board previously held by  Nina Lou Bunting,  who resigned following her appointment to the state board of education. The District 3 seat will be up for election in May of 2016.

Dr. Heather Statler of Millsboro was appointed to the Indian River School District board of education during a special board meeting Aug. 10.

“My expertise and specialty is in services for students with disabilities,” said Dr. Statler. “So I am very passionate about special education in the district. That is really my area of expertise. I do a lot of training for our faculty on disability law, and I have a lot of relationships with stakeholders in the state as far as services for people with disabilities. It’s something I am really passionate about.”

“If you look at the whole board in general, we have a wide diverse group of knowledge, many in different expertise. Mine is finance,” said Mr. Peden, noting that IRSD Finance Director Patrick Miller “has done a wonderful job. It may just help having a second set of eyes looking over budgets and bills and that whole finance in general.”

Both appointments carry into next year when the remainder of those five-year terms will be on the ballot in the May 2016 school board elections. At that time, there will be three years remaining on Ms. Bunting’s term, and four on Mr. Fink’s term.

Both new board members have deep roots planted in the Indian River School District.

Dr. Statler, raised on a farm in Roxana, graduated from Indian River High School; her husband is a Sussex Central graduate. They have two sons who will be attending East Millsboro Elementary School and Sussex Central High School this coming year.

“I am very invested in the school district. Growing up in the district and now having children in the district, it’s an opportunity for me to be able to give back to the community and to help shape policy,” said Dr. Statler. “There are a lot of really good things happening in the district so I am excited to be a part of that. There are also things I think we can improve on. I am interested in trying to make it a better district; the best that we can be for not only my children but I am really in it for the long term. I am 40, so I am at I think the perfect time in my career to really devote the time that I need to something like this.”

Mr. Peden’s wife is a teacher at Georgetown Elementary School where the couple’s son will be entering fourth grade. Their two girls are high school students at Sussex Central.

“I’ve been involved in the district for decades going way back to my father. He was a longtime teacher/basketball coach in the Indian River School District,” said Mr. Peden. “I think it is one of the premier districts in state of Delaware. And when this opportunity arose I thought it would be a great opportunity to get involved, and keep the district at its premier status.”

“I have no personal agenda. I am not going in thinking, ‘Hey, I think I can improve this or change that; it’s just helping out anyway I can to maintain the way it has been run,” Mr. Peden added.

Mr. Peden attended Washington College and the University of Virginia.

After attending the University of Delaware and Salisbury State, Dr. Statler attained her masters and doctorate degrees from Delaware State University in Dover.

Both board members intend to seek election for the remainder of the board terms next May.

“I will certainly be running for the seat,” said Dr. Statler. “I’m a life-long Sussex Countian. We’re very family oriented. This is where we live and I want to be a part of making it the best place for the community and for the children in the district.”

“I’m not doing it for short-term notion,” said Mr. Peden. “I look for this to be a long-term position. It’s exciting.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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