JAY — Three residents will vie for two Regional School Unit  73 director seats during elections April 25. Balloting will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Community Building.

Elaine Fitzgerald Submitted photo

Directors Elaine Fitzgerald and Robert “Bob” Staples are being challenged by former Director Shari Ouellette.

The three candidates in the contested races answered the same questions from the Sun Journal.

If elected, what do you think can be done to stem the rising cost of education to ease the burden on taxpayers?

Fitzgerald: “Rising costs are a taxpayer concern. Inflation has an effect on our schools as well as each community member. Our administrators put together a budget that efficiently meets our needs while striving to keep within a reasonable budget. Reasonable pay and benefits for our staff provides consistency for our students. Rising benefit costs have been especially concerning and our staff are paying more of these costs than ever before. Our budget reflects an investment in our future.”

Ouellette:  “I think that it is important to find creative, out-of-the-box ways to do more with less. Spruce Mountain has too much administration and more of the tax dollars need to be spent on the kids in the classroom and less on administrative costs. We need to find ways to catch the children up from two years of online learning and COVID  lockdowns. We need to put the focus back on the basics of reading, writing and math and put more money into training for the trades such as plumbers, electricians, masons etc. Money needs to be reallocated not increased.”


Shari Ouellette Submitted photo

Staples: Salaries and benefits make up about 76% of a school district’s budget. Health insurance is one of the greatest costs to a district. Up to about (nine) years ago Maine school districts were part of a large group for health insurance. At that time each district became a group on its own. The larger the group the lower the cost of insurance. Small districts like ours suffer due to being a group of only 300 or so instead of being part of a statewide group of thousands. The cost of health insurance has exploded in this time. I will be talking to our senators and representatives to try to get this back to what it was.

What skills do you have that you believe would benefit the school board, schoolchildren, educators and overall school system?

Staples: I was a teacher for 33 years and an athletic administrator for three years. Before I retired from teaching I had negotiated 11 contracts. Since I’ve been on the board I’ve negotiated at least that many more. I have been the board chair for four-plus years. I have always been willing to listen to concerns that our community has had and will continue to do so.

Ouellette:  I spent six years on the board previously, and I have a master’s degree in business and an undergraduate degree in psychology and business. I was the chair of the Finance Committee and a member of the negotiating committee for the six years that I was on the board.

Robert “Bob” Staples Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Fitzgerald:  It has been a privilege to serve the students of RSU 73 as a director of the RSU 73 school (board) during the past (years.)  As a former teacher, education is my lifelong passion. I have seven grandchildren, from primary through high school all enrolled in Maine schools. Keeping informed of current best practices and providing our students the best opportunities, as I am able, is my commitment. Our students are my number one priority and focusing my efforts on delivering the best possible programs will always be my goal. I look forward to continuing to serve our community as a director of the RSU 73 (board).”

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