FAIRFIELD — More than a month after a trio of resignations from Maine School Administrative District 49’s School Board took the community by surprise, the Town Council will review six applicants and appoint three of them to the vacancies at a Wednesday evening meeting.

The new members will take the place of Shelley Rudnicki, Caroline Toto-Lawrence and Tim Martin who resigned at a council meeting on July 10, citing a lack of productivity and constant harassment from the community as the reasons for their departure.

Lawrence High School student Marian Zawistowski, left, with sign, and an estimated 300 other students from all grades, assemble April 24 outside the School Administrative District 49 superintendent’s office in Fairfield in a silent protest about restructuring that led to the resignation of Principal Mark Campbell. The 2019-2020 school year begins with three new board members to be appointed Wednesday, a new superintendent and a new high school principal. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

Rudnicki also said an uneven balance of power existed on the board. “The smaller towns in the district are basically running the show,” Rudnicki said. “They’re getting a lot of behind-the-scenes help.”

MSAD 49 serves the communities of Fairfield, Clinton, Benton and Albion. Fairfield has six seats on the board, Clinton three, Benton two and Albion two.

The applicants, all residents of Fairfield, have careers in either education or healthcare and have expressed a connection to the district and a desire to help the school board move forward.

Beth Achille Lambert has been an educator for more than 17 years and has served as an English teacher, interim high school principal, research assistant and performing arts teacher among other positions. Since 2017, Lambert has been the Coordinator of Secondary Education and Integrated Instruction for the Maine Department of Education.

Christina R. Quinlan works as the Director of Operations for Islands Community Medical Services Inc. Quinlan believes that throughout her career, which has spanned 22 years, she has developed strong skills in finance and operations which she can apply to the board in order to strengthen its productivity and integrity.

Judy Reeves is a retired geriatric nurse who spent her career working with a variety of people from Alzheimer’s patients to county jail inmates. Reeves’ three children attended SAD 49 with the most recent being her son Nick, who graduated from Lawrence High School in 2018. Reeves believes her experience as a nurse and a parent has given her relevant experience for the school board position.

Rae Davis-Folsom just completed her 33rd year of teaching and is currently employed as a special education teacher at Waterville Senior High School. During her time there Folsom has founded several programs and committees including the Renaissance Program, the At-Risk Committee and the Adverse Childhood Experiences Committee. Folsom has also had two children attend SAD 49 for all 12 years of school.

Stewart Kinley served on the SAD 49 School Board for a total of 26 years, five of which he spent as the board chairman. Kinley stated that if he is appointed, he believes his experience and knowledge would be helpful in stabilizing and helping the board move past its “dysfunctionality.”

Terry Michaud was on the school board for more than four years before he took a leave of absence during the 2018 to 2019 school year due to health issues. The former athletic director for Skowhegan High School said that the outcome of the last year has motivated him to get involved once again so he can provide a “calming perspective” and stability for the board with any issues it may face moving forward.

The appointment of new school board members comes after a turbulent year which saw the resignation of seven teachers, the superintendent and Lawrence High School’s assistant and head principal along with the three board members.

The tenure of former Superintendent Dr. Reza Namin, whose resignation took effect on Aug. 2, was rife with controversy in great part due to his divisive restructuring plan that eventually cost the district $417,665 in administrative buyouts. Additionally, conflicts among school board members and two failed budget referendums have rattled the district.

The appointments of the new board members coincide with the recent hiring of Roberta Hersom as the district’s interim superintendent and Dan Bowers as the new principal for Lawrence High School.

The council was originally set to appoint the new school board members at its last meeting on Aug. 14, but decided to extend the deadline to Aug. 21 because it failed to adequately notify the public about the openings and a miscommunication regarding the validity of the resignations of Rudnicki, Toto-Lawrence and Martin.

Fairfield’s Town Council will meet at the Fairfield Community Center on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

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