WINTHROP — Local voters went the polls Tuesday as multiple candidates competed for open seats on the Town Council and School Board.

Both groups continue to confront financial challenges facing the town.

Council Chairwoman Sarah Fuller won re-election with 1,049 votes, followed by Scott Eldridge with 757, Elizabeth McKenney with 660 and Anthony Wess with 442. The top two vote- getters — Fuller and Eldridge — will serve on the council.

In the school board race, Kristin Shumway and Virginia Geyer were elected with 1,150 and 1,003 votes, respectively. Stephen Farrington got 682 votes.

Fuller, who runs her own public relations firm. Eldridge is the business manager in Regional School Unit 4; McKenney, is the owner of a Winthrop-area taxi service; and Wess, ran Lakeside Motel & Cabins in East Winthrop for 30 years before selling the business and retiring this year.

Three residents were running for two open seats on the School Board, including two women who serve on the board and have worked as teachers, Geyer and Shumway. The third candidate, Farrington, is an advertising salesman for Turner Publishing.

The largest challenge facing the seven-member Town Council in the coming year will be recovering from a $1.5 million shortfall, which has depleted the town’s reserve funds, and which was the result of a miscalculation of the Winthrop School Department’s revenue two years ago.

In the coming year, councilors will have to decide what mix of cost-cutting, taxation and borrowing is needed to bring the town back from the brink of bankruptcy, while also funding programs, infrastructure projects and a school district that has about 900 students.

They’ll also have to work with local school officials, who have disagreed with councilors about the shortfall’s origin and how to fund the schools, and bridled at the way councilors have treated them in recent months.

Given the town’s fiscal restraints, School Board members said that they would like to keep trying to improve the quality of the local educational offerings, while also keeping the district’s per-student costs below the state average of $12,939. For several years, Winthrop students have achieved some of the best standardized test scores in central Maine.

The incumbent candidates said that one looming challenge is an initiative by Gov. Paul LePage to save taxpayers’ money by combining regional educational services. Because the Winthrop School Department already has merged some of its services with other districts in central and western Maine, Geyer said last month, the department is trying to get those efforts formally recognized as part of any consolidation.

The School Board is also currently considering delaying the start of the school day for Winthrop students until 8:30 a.m., based on research showing the educational and developmental benefits of extra sleep. But given the logistical challenges, officials have said it probably would take a couple of years before the department was ready to make that switch.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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