Two of the four open seats on the Regional School Unit 38 school board are up in the air and will be decided by voters in Readfield and Mount Vernon on Tuesday.

In Readfield, four candidates are vying for one of the town’s positions on the board, including incumbent Rebecca Lambert who is fighting to retain her seat for another three-year term. The other three candidates are Peter Bickerman, Travis Frautten and Cristobal Alvardo.

In Mount Vernon, where the other contested race is, Christine Gatto-Shea and Heather Preble are running to fill the position vacated by Melissa Tobin, who is not seeking reelection.

Manchester has two school board races, but neither is contested. Jade Parker will formally run for the seat she was appointed to after Dennis Ruffing resigned for unknown reasons a couple of months into the school year. Kim Bowie of Manchester has decided not to run again, but Anne Seyfried will be on the ballot in her place.

Wayne, the fourth RSU 38 town, does not have a school board race this year. Fayette can send its students to the district since the town does not have its own high school, but does not have any spots on the 13-person school board and does not contribute to the district’s budget.

The school-board approved budget of $20,161,272 will be on the ballot for voters in each of the RSU 38 towns to validate Tuesday.



With three children almost out of college and more time on her hands, Christine Gatto-Shea, 55, is fulfilling a goal she always had: to run for her local school board.

Regional School Unit 38 school board candidate for Mount Vernon, Christine Gatto-Shea, with her three children. From the left, Brian, Gatto-Shea, Abby and Daniel. Courtesy of Christine Gatto-Shea

Gatto-Shea, a school psychologist, moved to the area 10 years ago from Pennsylvania. Her three children, who range in age from 20 to 26, all went through the district.

“I’m a 30-year public education employee, and all of my undergrad and graduate work was done at public schools, and I care about public education and quality. It’s the reason why we moved here, for the schools,” she said. “We looked at a number of places with schools as a consideration. Strong schools make a strong community, and I want to help support that mission.”

Gatto-Shea said she can bring her problem-solving skills to the board, using a balanced, cooperative way of listening to others that she gained from her experience as a special education administrator. Her administrative experience also will be helpful for budget conversations, she said.

Gatto-Shea said she has used public school to “enrich her life” in immeasurable ways. A first-generation college graduate, she said her father attended school until he was 11 and her mother received her GED and later became a nurse. She said she wants to help open doors for children in the way they were opened for her.


Heather Preble, 34, is running for a seat on the school board as a way to become more involved with her daughter’s education.

Heather Preble is running for a Mount Vernon spot on the Regional School Unit 38 school board. Courtesy of Heather Preble

Preble and her daughter, Lola, 5, moved to Mount Vernon in 2019, right before the pandemic, to get out of the busy and crowded city of Lynn, Massachusetts, which coincided when her father retired. Lola attends Mt. Vernon Elementary School.

Mount Vernon has always been a home-away-from-home for her, as her family traveled to their Maine home for most summers and her father is from Oakland. She works as a customer-service representative and has volunteered with Meals on Wheels.

Through Preble is new to the area and school board, she said she can offer a unique perspective, especially coming from the public school system in Massachusetts.

“I can bring a fresh set of eyes as someone who has never done this,” she said. “I might have more ideas, and I’m skilled in a lot of things. I need to learn a lot — I don’t want it to sound like I know everything, but I am eager to learn.”



Rebecca Lambert, 46, is running to secure her seat on the school board for another three years.

She was first asked to run by the town when she attended a Readfield Select Board meeting to go over the town budget. There was no one on the ballot for Readfield, so she stepped up and decided to do it.

Rebecca Lambert is running for re-election to a Readfield seat on the RSU 38 school board. Courtesy of Rebecca Lambert

“My background isn’t in education, so it has been challenging at times, but I feel like the board has made some positive strides in bettering communication with staff and (the) community, and in general,” said Lambert, who is a municipal issues specialist at Maine Municipal Association.

It became apparent during the pandemic that communication between the board, faculty, parents and students needed to improve, she said, and tweaking that process is one of the accomplishments she is most proud of. During her tenure, the board reinstated the communication subcommittee and around 40 people attended.

Through her three children, who range in age from 4 to 19, she has seen the dedication teachers in the district have for the students, something she admires about RSU 38. Her two oldest sons have graduated and the youngest is in Pre-K.


Cristobal Alvarado, 56, is currently a student himself.

Cristobal Alvarado, a Readfield candidate for the Regional School Unit 38 school board. Courtesy of Cristobal Alvarado

He is in his second year at the University of Maine School of Law. He attended medical school and practiced as a cardiothoracic surgeon before getting in a life-altering car crash that impacted his ability to preform his job.

Alvarado first got involved with school politics when he was asked to be a parent representative on the planning committee for The Maine School of Math and Science, a magnet school where his son Luke is enrolled.

Alvarado’s three other children went through the RSU 38, including his daughter, Isabel, who attends Maranacook Community Middle School. His family has lived in Readfield since 2009.

Alvarado said one thing he can bring to the board, based on his experience, is the ability to look forward and solve problems, such as moving on from the pandemic. He also suggested the district think about doing enrichment programs during the summer to help students avoid the “summer slip,” like summer camps or summer school and tutoring options.

“Summer can be a time to do a lot of things outside of the box, but as long as you do something and engage the mind academically, there is the chance to come back in September where the backslide is a lot less, and students can hit the ground running, ready to succeed,” he said.


With two grandchildren in the district, Peter Bickerman, 70, was concerned with the way the school board handled the pandemic, so he decided to run for school board.

Peter Bickerman is a candidate from Readfield running for the Regional School Unit 38 school board. Peter Bickerman

There were other reasons why Bickerman decided to run, but he was especially troubled back in August when board members voted to make masks optional in RSU 38 schools before changing their mind a week later, mandating them for most of the year instead. Masks are essential to keeping students in school, he said, and when the district didn’t require them, classes had to go remote for about two weeks.

“I was concerned by the idea of safety,” he said. “Remote learning is better than nothing, but it’s not as good as in-person. We have to do everything possible, everything feasible, for a safe and healthy environment so kids can be in school.”

Bickerman’s granddaughters attend Mt. Vernon Elementary School and Maranacook Community High School. His two grown children went through the district, too. The family moved to Readfield in 1981 after living in Hallowell.


Travis Frautten, 34, was inspired by “recent events” such as the pandemic to run for school board. When encouraged by his friends to run, it felt right, he said.

Travis Fautten, a Readfield candidate for the Regional School Unit 38 school board with his family. From left, his daughter Adalynn, 9, his wife Danica, daughter Lillian, 7 and him. Courtesy of Travis Frautten

He is the parent of two Readfield Elementary School students, Adalynn, 9, and Lillian, 7.

Several times during the pandemic, Frautten said he and his wife did not have clear guidance from the district on situations regarding COVID-19, and he wants to improve communication. He is also passionate about students having healthy meals as a way to feed their growing minds.

“In our school district, in particular, (it’s) not that they are doing a bad job, but I could be a good voice to some improvements to nutrition,” he said.

Frautten’s mother was a teacher at Hall-Dale Elementary School, in nearby Regional School Unit 2, for 30 years. As the son of an educator, he said he recognizes how important elementary school is, in particular, for students as kids develop core skills. He is an advocate for outdoor learning and the district’s extracurricular activities.


On Tuesday, voting in Mount Vernon will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Community Center.

In Readfield, voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Kent’s Hill School and Harold and Ted Alfond Athletic Center.

In Manchester, voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Manchester Fire Department.

In Wayne, voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Ladd Recreational Center.

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