AUGUSTA — Three candidates are vying for two positions on the Augusta Board of Education in the November election.

Pia Holmes and Kevin Lamoreau are running for reelection in their at-large spots on the board, while newcomer Sergei Chaparin is running in his first election for one of their two spots.

James Orr is running uncontested for a Ward 3 spot previously held by Jan Michaud, who resigned in early August.

At the board of education meeting last Wednesday, Jennifer Dumond resigned from her at-large position, citing personal reasons. Her spot will not be on the November ballot, but will likely be on the June ballot, according to Board Chair Amanda Olson.

Augusta residents who do not plan to be at the polls in person may take out absentee ballots to cast their vote and can request one on the city’s website. Voting in Augusta is separated by Ward and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 2. The last day for absentee ballots is Oct. 28.

KEVIN LAMOREAU

Kevin Lamoreau first decided to run for school board after hearing a scholarship presentation for middle school students about what they want to be, or do, when they grow up. It was then when he realized those students are the “future” of Augusta.

Kevin Lamoreau Contributed photo

“School board is the education of our children, our future, people who will be in government, but also people who want to work in business and it’s our future,” he said. “It seems like a cliché thing to say, but it’s important.”

It will be Lamoreau’s second election. He has served on the board for one three-year term and has lived in Augusta for eight years.

“Education is an opportunity,” he said.

Lamoreau, 40, said he has always had an interest in politics, gaining a minor from the University of Maine at Farmington along with his degree in mathematics.

Serving on the board of education “makes him a better citizen,” he said, as well as “increase his knowledge of government.” In his time on the board, he has served on the policy committee, and he said he is proud of his time on it.

“I feel like I have a knowledge and unique perspective and am able to suggest things that work,” he said.

Lamoreau said he is happy with the way the district has dealt with COVID-19 and said it is one of the issues, along with the new Hussey Elementary School construction project, he is passionate about.

“Continuing to deal with COVID-19 and to have procedures in place that will prevent any backfirings, things are more like normal than they were last year… Continuing to cautiously bring things back to normal in a way that minimizes backfiring, that’s the goal,” he said.

PIA HOLMES

Pia Holmes said she gets her passion for the Board of Education from her time spent in education, as well as being chair of the curriculum committee.

Like Lamoreau, it will be her second election and third year on the board.

Before the Augusta Board, she spent time on the Regional School Unit 38 school board as she lived in Manchester before moving to Augusta. When she lived in Manchester, she was principal of Manchester and Mount Vernon Elementary Schools after being a teacher for nearly 30 years in RSU 38 and at Monmouth Academy.

Pia Holmes Contributed photo

Holmes, who declined to provide her age but joked that she’s “seasoned,” said she thinks the Augusta Board of Education is unique in that the members work well together and are able to make decisions as a team, mainly through committee work and workshops the board has together.

“Every school board is different,” she said. “This (Augusta) is a municipality and that’s different. In the other district, we had four communities, but the same is that we are all working towards what is best for the students. I would say in that case, in Augusta, we are all working hard and our board is a good ‘working’ board, we usually speak with one voice in the end.”

Holmes serves on the curriculum committee and gushed about the two new curriculums the school district will offer: “Pre-K for ME” and “Multi-Tiered Systems of Support” launched this fall and the district has already seen success, she said.

Holmes said the committee and serving as the chair as been her “main focus,” citing the success of the committee for using data analysis to make decisions on what is best for the students. Her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in elementary education, and a certificate in advanced leadership, through the University of Maine at Orono have allowed her to lend her knowledge on the committee.

As for COVID-19, she’s said she’s happy with the direction the board went in with precautions and guidelines because they “put students and staff safety at the forefront.”

SERGEI CHAPARAIN

Growing up in the Soviet Union, Sergei Chaparin thinks he will be able to provide a unique perspective to the board of education.

“My perspective can be based on the experience I went through and my understanding of the country and what I value with the United States,” he said. “I do love this country.”

Sergei Chaparin Contributed photo

Chaparin moved to the United States when he was 18, served in the military, and gained two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Maine System — one in art and the other in computer information systems. He also has a master’s degree in business in project management.

He added that his “hand-on” experience with businesses can work in his favor, too.

“Basically, our education system needs to be effective as possible,” he said. “Kids have dreams early on, they can develop it and grow with it and actually peruse it rather than get confused and tangled up and be unsure of what they want to go after.”

Chaparin, 44, said his desire to run for the board of education came with him thinking about the future of his children’s education. He has a daughter who graduated from the Winthrop Public Schools, but recently remarried and is ready to start a family with his wife.

He believes students should be taught about the Constitution and learn about their rights from the perspective of the document and school systems.

“One of the biggest issues is there should be zero political influence on children,” he said. “I think children need to learn, they need to learn about their rights from the perspective of the Constitution and maybe study it. Things like that. Political influences are bad, in my opinion.”

Chaparin said he is “quick on his feet” and said he can go in, if elected, understanding where things stand. He said his first priority is “supporting spending more effectively” and making sure there are “good, solid conversations on where the money is going.”


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