AUGUSTA — The race for the Ward 3 Augusta Board of Education seat pits a veteran sports official against the co-owner of an auto repair shop.

Ray Dostie and April Cusick are seeking to fill the seat being vacated by Nicole Desjardins, who did not take out nomination papers to seek re-election.

Dostie, 64, who has spent 43 years officiating a wide variety of sports at the high school and other levels, said he’s running for the school board because he’s “tired of seeing kids leave school functionally illiterate.”

He said the biggest problem facing the school system is a lack of money to provide students with a quality education. He said the state is not providing the money it is required to provide to schools. He said he’d support a tax increase, if that is what it would take to fund education adequately.

“There is a lot you can’t do, because the money is not there,” he said. “We’re not getting the revenue (from the state) we’re supposed to be getting, especially when you stop to consider that so much of the land in Augusta is untaxable because it’s state or county land. The next generation is our most important resource. The money has got to come from somewhere to do what needs to be done.”

Cusick, 50, who owns Cusick’s Auto Repair in Hallowell with her husband, Steve, said she’s running because she wants to serve the community where her family has extensive ties.

“I don’t have a personal agenda,” she said. “My family has been a member of the community for three generations, and I am invested in seeing Augusta schools be the best they can be.”

She said she needed some time to learn about the school system and its issues before deciding whether she would support a tax increase to provide more funding for education.

“I need some time to learn the workings of the school board, but I can say I am opposed to cutting more programs for the students of Augusta,” Cusick said. “I’m committed to listening to the families we serve and helping meet the educational needs of the students of Augusta.”

To improve Augusta schools, Dostie said he’d work “to get the federal government off the back” of local schools. He said No Child Left Behind and related federal requirements burden teachers without improving the education of students. He said he’d advocate, as a school board member, to state and federal legislators to cut those requirements and increase funding for schools.

“The teachers have the toughest job in the world and they’re drowning in paperwork,” Dostie said. “This has to stop. And we need to have the Legislature and governor stop being at odds with each other. Citizens are caught in the middle.”

He also said he’d like to see a course in manners offered in schools.

Cusick said she didn’t know what can be done to improve Augusta schools. Cusick, whose own children attended Augusta schools, said she has the best interest of the children and families of Augusta at heart.

Dostie, who has grandnephews and grandnieces in the school system, said he’s dedicated and has the time to serve on the school board.

The Ward 3 Board of Education race is the only contested local race in Augusta on Election Day. Running, unopposed are incumbent Mayor David Rollins; Marci Alexander, for an at-large City Council seat held now by Dan Emery, who did not file papers to seek re-election; incumbent Ward 2 Councilor Darek Grant; and incumbent Laura Hamilton and resident Tom Connors for two at-large spots on the school board.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, in Augusta. The voting sites are: Ward 1, Augusta State Armory, on Western Avenue; Ward 2, Augusta City Center, on Cony Street; Ward 3, Augusta Civic Center, on Community Drive; and Ward 4, Cony High School, on Pierce Drive.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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