Douglas DiPasquale, 44, works at Verso Corp.

JAY — Four candidates are seeking election April 23 to two three-year terms on the Regional School Unit 73 board of directors.

The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Community Building.

Incumbent Douglas DiPasquale, and newcombers J. Lynn Ouellette, Kerry Jackson and Tarek Nadeau were asked to provide written answers for why they are running and if they think a resource officer is needed in the schools.

DiPasquale said he is seeking a second term on the board because he believes he can make a difference.

“The past year has been challenging for the board, but I remain focused on my duties as a board member, not to base my decisions on what is best for my children or particular staff members but rather to do what is right for the entire district,” he wrote.

Nadeau said he is seeking the position as a means to give back to his lifelong community and the school from which he graduated.

J. Lynn Ouellette

“I am serving to be the voice of the concerned, but hopeful taxpayer and a parent of a child in the school system,” he wrote. “I hope to enable dialogue with teachers (which now seems obsolete) as well as administrators to hear what they feel is necessary to increase school ranking, testing scores, and overall student success. In doing so, we can work towards utilizing clear, obtainable, and measurable goals when implementing change as a means to monitor improvement and regain community trust.

“My diverse employment and educational background (from two automotive trades degrees in 1994 from (Northern Maine Community College and Master of Science in counselor education from University of Southern Maine in 2012) will allow me to make informed decisions based on experience, education, research and knowledge.”

Kerry Jackson

Jackson said she is seeking a position on the board because “my children were provided with a strong foundational education in this district, and now it’s my turn to use my experience as both an educator and as a parent to ensure that future students have access to the same opportunities that my daughters were fortunate enough to receive.”

Ouellette said she has no specific issue that has caused her to seek a seat on the board.

“I feel a very strong tie to our area schools — a student in Livermore Falls for 13 years, a teacher in Jay/RSU 73 for 37 years and continued involvement in RSU 73 for the past five years since my retirement. I would like to have a seat at the table with the RSU 73 board of directors to work to make our schools the best they can be within the limits of our available resources,” Ouellette said.

Concerning a school resource officer, Ouellette said Spruce Mountain High School Principal T.J. Plourde made a convincing argument for the position during a recent school board meeting.

“I believe it is important to respect the recommendations of the administrators we put in charge of our schools; therefore, I would accept the need of a school resource officer based on the principal’s recommendation,” Ouellette said. “As a board member, I would request further information to better understand the position such as statistics on the frequency and reasons for calls to police that are being made from our schools, a job description, and a plan for evaluation.

“Realistically, I don’t believe that we can afford a resource officer at this time, but I would definitely support RSU 73 going forward with a gathering of data to help determine the degree of need so that it can be revisited in the future.”

Jackson said she believes a resource officer is needed.

“The expense of a resource officer may be considered a burden to some taxpayers, and having experienced difficulty making ends meet myself I understand the impact it can have, but I do believe that a resource officer is needed in our schools,” Jackson wrote.

“Teachers in our district are tasked with educating our next generation every day; having to grapple with emotional and behavioral needs on top of meeting ever-increasing educational standards directly affects their ability to help our kids meet the goals we expect of them.

“Like parents, teachers are unable to have eyes everywhere at every moment, and a resource officer is trained to deal with a variety of situations, including school safety; because it would be their primary role to monitor the things happening within the school(s), teachers can focus on what they’re there to do: educate our children, she wrote.

Tarek Nadeau

Nadeau said he does not believe the district needs a resource officer.

“I feel the Jay Police Department has done an excellent job handling the 23 incidents in 2018, 27 in 2017, and 20 in 2016 without adding to Jay tax liability or the RSU 73 school budget,” Nadeau wrote. “With school budget increases and cuts to education/student services already proposed to impact students, staff, and taxpayers, we need to divert our tax dollars elsewhere. We should explore creative solutions utilizing local, county, and state resources that are already funded to help increase the security of our students and staff. Increasing parental/home support as a method to impact the success/well-being of our student population and working to eliminate bullying should also become a main focus.”

DiPasquale believes a resource officer is absolutely needed.

A conversation on adding a resource officer was held at the Nov. 8, 2018, meeting when the board was briefed by the RSU 73 Safety Committee, DiPasquale wrote.

“At that time there were already 31 calls to the Police Department from the district,” he wrote. “We have some serious needs at the highmiddle school and a resource officer will play a vital role in keeping our kids safe and provide a positive influence to the students.

“One emerging issue is juuling — there have already been 33 suspensions for kids using the e-cigarette devices that can contain more nicotine in a pod than an entire pack of cigarettes,” DiPasquale wrote. ” This is NOT about mass shooting and carrying guns in school, it is about caring enough about these kids to help them get through tough times (prevent suicides, put on the right path, etc).”

NOTE: The article has been changed to reflect that J. Lynn Ouellette is not an incumbent. It was and editing error.

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