The following is an extended version of the story that appeared in Friday’s print edition:

TOPSHAM — Topsham has 11 candidates vying for four open seats on the Maine School Administrative District 75 school board.

Three of the 11 candidates are incumbents running for reelection. School board member Jeffrey Wolkens opted not to run for another term.

The school district serves Bowdoin, Bowdoinham and Harpswell as well as Topsham.

The candidates recently answered questions about their bids for a seat on the school board.

Nancy Chandler

Nancy Chandler

Nancy Chandler is a retired reading tutor and an organic farmer.

Times Record: What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a school board member?

Nancy Chandler: I have taught children at all ages from reading to kindergarten through elementary, and science to middle and high school students. I am a creative thinker, analytical, and a problem solver with a Masters in Biology Education and commitment to keeping people healthy.

TR: What are your top priorities as a school board member if elected?

NC: My experience leading outdoor nature walks for 6 years at Phippsburg Elementary School and Bath Library can support teachers in providing outdoor learning opportunities for children. I hope to help create healthy, safe school environments where community volunteers can help provide individual tutoring, share skills, and give other support to teachers, thus allowing more in-person instruction without increasing the school budget.

TR: What are the most important issues you expect to face if elected to the school board?

NC: I expect important issues will include keeping taxes from rising while providing sufficient staff and volunteers to meet student educational and emotional needs in smaller classes. Other important issues will be supporting teachers and principals in cultural changes to online and outdoor education, and maintaining open communication with parents and staff.

Nathen Cloutier

Nathen Cloutier is a government affairs consultant.

Times Record: What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a school board member?

Nathen Cloutier: I’m a proud graduate of the MSAD 75 with a brother and sister currently enrolled, and I’ve also had the privilege to teach in this great state. Quality education is my passion– these experiences have given me a firsthand insight to the immediate and long-term needs schools are facing.

TR: What are your top priorities as a school board member if elected?

NC: Coronavirus has no doubt upended what the normal school day looks like. Reopening schools safely in a way that fits the need of each student will be my top priority. I will also remember the hard working property tax payers with every vote I make.

TR: What are the most important issues you expect to face if elected to the school board?

NC: Keeping children safe while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic will be a challenge for students, parents, and teachers. Everyone needs a seat at the table while we work together to safely reopen our schools.

 

Lisa (Ceci) Danforth

Lisa (Ceci) Danforth works in Development and Outreach for Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a land conservation nonprofit. She is also known as Ceci Gilson.

Times Record: What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a school board member?

Lisa (Ceci) Danforth: I’ve been surrounded by educators all my life and believe in the power of public education. I believe in giving back to my community where I’ve served on several nonprofit boards and for volunteer organizations and I’m not afraid to make difficult decisions based on careful deliberation for the good of our kids and for our communities.

TR: What are your top priorities as a school board member if elected?

LCD: Strong schools are the cornerstone of strong communities. I’ll work collaboratively with the other board members to listen carefully to all sides of an issue and work hard to support the teachers and staff in MSAD 75 while making the tough decisions that can affect everyone in our school district.

TR: What are the most important issues you expect to face if elected to the school board?

LCD: Providing students with a quality education while adapting to the fluctuating demands caused by the pandemic is the most important issue at hand. The school board must be able to act quickly and efficiently to minimize the impact felt in the classroom while at the same time supporting solutions that are affordable and effective.

 

Douglas Dumont

Douglas Dumont works as an aspirations coordinator (college and career counselor).

Times Record: What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a school board member?

Douglas Dumont: I am the parent to four amazing children who have a love of learning and have always had a positive experience in school. I have been fortunate to work in education for over 15 years, previously as a classroom teacher and for the last six years as a college and career counselor, working closely with staff, administration, students, families and the community.

TR: What are your top priorities as a school board member if elected?

DD: One of my top priorities as a member of the Board of Directors is to work diligently to provide the highest quality education, in the future and currently within the constraints of the current pandemic. I also want to bring the voice of an educator who supports MSAD 75 educators, and our leadership team, valuing their experience and expertise as they work day in and day out with our children in the best interest of our children.

TR: What are the most important issues you expect to face if elected to the school board?

DD: One of the most important issues that we will face as a community is to continue to support our leadership team as they continue to develop, plan and implement an effective and appropriate teaching and learning plan that meets the needs of all students. We will also need to ensure that our schools are appropriately and adequately funded, ensuring that all students find success inside and outside of the classroom.

 

Mary Hobson

Mary Hobson is a special education teacher in Maine School Administrative District 75.

Times Record: What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a school board member?

Mary Hobson: I have been a special education teacher in MSAD 75 for more than twenty years and am also a parent of four children who attended Topsham schools. Each of these roles has given me insight into what is required to make sure our students receive an education that maximizes their unique abilities.

TR: What are your top priorities as a school board member if elected?

MH: We are increasingly becoming a global community so we need to make sure students are able to think critically so as to navigate the many different challenges facing them especially the ever-evolving media environment. It is paramount that we give students and teachers the resources they need to be successful in our rapidly changing world.

TR: What are the most important issues you expect to face if elected to the school board?

MH: It is clear the global pandemic has created challenges even in our community that we have never faced before so we have to be creative and unified in our approach to meeting the needs of students, parents, and teachers, both in remote learning situations and in the school building. Reporting of grades and how we assess students is another very important issue that continues to be front and center in terms of issues affecting our teachers and families.

 

Andrea Imrie

Andrea Imrie has worked as a childcare provider for 12 years and is a current board member seeking reelection.

Times Record: What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a school board member?

Andrea Imrie: Being a parent to 3 in the school system. A local business owner, chairing a parent group that supports staff and student school needs. Being raised and educated in this district has allowed me to build relations within the communities for 35 years. Providing me the ability to represent the voices of the community.

TR: What are your top priorities as a school board member if elected?

AI: Finding a balance between needs and wants. Making sure our students and staff continue to receive the best support and education. Continue to be transparent, listen, and work alongside all stakeholders in the community. Communication, providing clarity and having the four towns working together is something I strive for.

TR: What are the most important issues you expect to face if elected to the school board?

AI: Working through the budget during a time that so many are impacted financially with the current pandemic. Working towards safe ways to open schools for our students/staff. The social/emotional, economic and academic impact we are currently faced with. As well as working towards resolutions for whatever obstacles may be presented to us past/present/future.

 

William R. Keleher Jr.

William R. Keleher Jr. is a business owner and microbiologist. He is a current school board member seeking reelection.

Times Record: What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a school board member?

William R. Keleher Jr: As a business owner and a scientist, I believe I bring a broad skill set to the board that is important in this unique time.

TR: What are your top priorities as a school board member if elected?

WK: I will continue to advocate for STEM  (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activities throughout the district as well as help to make connections with outside organizations such the Bioscience Association of Maine which bring experiential opportunities such as ME Bioscience Day to our students.

TR: What are the most important issues you expect to face if elected to the school board?

WK: Issues related to Covid-19 are likely to remain a top priority as is addressing possible reductions in state funding to our district.

 

Catherine Meier

Catherine Meier is the manager of Holbrooks General Store.

Times Record: What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a school board member?

Catherine Meier: I feel I am uniquely qualified to serve as a school board member because not only am I a parent of school aged children at all three levels of our district, I have also been actively involved with our school board for many years. My lived experience has always made me a fierce advocate for the underdog, and for making sure folks in positions of authority maintain a balanced perspective by ensuring all voices are heard and valued.

TR: What are your top priorities as a school board member if elected?

CM: My top priority should I be elected, would be to review current practices around how we inform parents and families working hard to ensure their children are receiving the appropriate services are not just made aware of their rights but have access to an educational advocate if needed, to help navigate the confusing and intimidating world of special education. Another focal point for me would be to work to improve communication and trust between our district administrators, teachers and community in order to keep educational equity the primary goal always.

TR: What are the most important issues you expect to face if elected to the school board?

CM: Right from the beginning, I anticipate continuation of the conversations we are having now about how to best move forward during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic in as safe a manner as possible. I look forward to these discussions and the opportunity to help for creative and thoughtful solutions that not only prioritize our communities’ physical health, but their mental and emotional health as well.

 

Andrew Wallace

Andrew Wallace works as a professional driver.

Times Record: What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a school board member?

Andrew Wallace: As a parent to a Freshman at Mt. Ararat High School and a 2020 graduate, I have experienced, first hand, the MSAD 75 system at all levels, from Williams Cone Elementary, to Mt. Ararat Middle School, Mt. Ararat High School. I have been an active participant in the educational planning for my IEP student. I and my family have had a very active roll in middle and high athletics. I am well known in the community and am very open to the opinions of other parents and would like to make sure their voices are heard and that parents have an active roll in the education of their children. I’d like to reinforce the partnership between parents, students and educators with transparency, insuring traditional education, reflecting our community’s values.

TR: What are your top priorities as a school board member if elected?

AW: I would like to prioritize opening our schools, in full participation, full time, on our pre-COVID schedule, while protecting faculty, students, volunteers and coaches.
It’s a great responsibility to be a trustworthy steward to the taxpayers dollars. It is my view that spending needs to be determined with the burden of taxpayer in mind and every dollar paid in tax is sacrificed somewhere else in the citizen’s life. These are difficult times for many financial and we need to have something to show for our spending. All spending needs to be audited and every dollar stretched to capacity.
It’s my opinion that the Board of Directors and parents need to be fully informed and have input on the Curriculum our students are being presented with. A full syllabus, including films and media should be reviewed and approved by a representative of the Board and parent representative.
I would also like to make a priority of presenting our students with classes on civics. Every graduate from our district should have a full and comprehensive understanding of their crucial role as voters and shapers of our future, from local to a national level.

TR: What are the most important issues you expect to face if elected to the school board?

AW: I expect to be faced with the views of parents of all concerns to reopen our schools in full participation, with an option for continued remote learning for those who choose. I expect that the community at large is going to want to see our new high school and facilities being used to optimize their investment.
I expect that we will need to confront and discuss the changing social environment in our society at every level of our local educational system. We need to be open to change, without risking our children’s innocence, always remembering the roles of parents and the roles educators are in different columns but should always partner together to produce extraordinary, responsible, well-rounded citizens out of our most precious treasure and leaders of our future.

 

Sarah Ward

Sarah Ward works in constituent services and is a current school board member seeking reelection.

Times Record: What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a school board member?

Sarah Ward: My inclusive, collaborative spirit as well as my call to public service.

TR: What are your top priorities as a school board member if elected?

SW: To work to make access to universal free meals available to all families, even after the pandemic. To promote board transparency and communication between families and the Board of Directors.

TR: What are the most important issues you expect to face if elected to the school board?

SW: Continuing to navigate the complexities of successfully educating children, while keeping the communities of SAD75 safe, in the middle of a global pandemic

 

John Forsyth is also on the ballot as a school board candidate but said he is not campaigning because he is recovering from surgery.

Topsham’s Nov. 3 general election has been relocated to the new Mt. Ararat High School gymnasium at 68 Eagles Way. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

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