FAIRFIELD — Three people were appointed to fill the vacancies on Maine School Administrative District 49’s School Board at a town council meeting on Wednesday evening.

The positions became vacant after the unexpected resignations of former board members Shelley Rudnicki, Caroline Toto-Lawrence and Tim Martin at a town council meeting on July 10.

Beth Lambert, Judy Reeves and Rae Davis-Folsom were selected to serve on the SAD 49’s school board in the Fairfield seats for a term which expires on Nov. 5.

SAD 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 council came to the decisions after chairman Aaron Rowden opened the floor to a “council workshop” in order to review and debate the credentials of each applicant.

Lambert was the first applicant to be discussed and the council wasted no time pointing out its positive opinion toward her due to her 17 years of education experience.

“One application that stood out was Beth Lambert,” Rowden said. “She has significant credentials in education. … I did receive a communication from a resident that also works in Department of Education commending her work.”

The rest of the council agreed and Lambert was voted in unanimously.

“I’m grateful and excited,” Lambert said upon her nomination.

The council then pondered whether the remaining two applicants should also share credentials in education like Lambert.

“We need a strong leader who has an education background,” Council Member Peter Lawrence said.

However, fellow council member Courtney Chandler had a different perspective.

“Bringing in (an) outside voice isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” Chandler said. “If they care about the kids and the betterment of the school as a whole, they’re going to bring all they have to the table.”

Chandler followed her statement up by nominating Christina Quinlan, who works as the director of operations for Islands Community Medical Services Inc. Chandler’s motion was seconded by Rowden.

But Lawrence and council member John Picchiotti opposed Quinlan’s nomination and the vote ultimately failed on a tie.

The council then revisited the debate on educational credentials which resulted in Rowden nominating Judy Reeves, a retired geriatric nurse whose son recently graduated from Lawrence High School.

Rowden made the nomination on the basis that he wanted to make sure the appointees were also community stakeholders and not just people with educational backgrounds.

Reeves’ nomination was unanimous, and she was the second person appointed.

Lawrence then nominated Rae Davis-Folsom, an educator who just completed her 33rd year of teaching special education at Waterville Senior High School, due to her background in education and coaching.

Davis-Folsom was appointed by a 3 to 1 vote, Rowden being the only council member opposed.

“I want to thank all the applicants, anybody who steps forward to make our community better are fighting for the same team,” Rowden said.

The other applicant which was considered was former board member and chairman, Stewart Kinley.

Former board member Terry Michaud retracted his application before Wednesday evening’s meeting.

The appointment of Davis-Folsom, Lambert and Reeves comes after a turbulent year which saw the resignation of seven teachers, the superintendent and Lawrence High School’s assistant and head principals 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 three new school board members also coincides 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 next regular meeting of the Fairfield Town Council will be at the Fairfield Community Center on Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m.

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