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Deer Isle, Isle au Haut and Stonington, Maine.
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Three candidates are running for three seats on the Deer Isle-Stonington Community School District board. Holly Eaton is running for the two-year seat left open by the departure of Virginia Olsen in June. Andy Vaughn, who left the board after a three-year term in 2011, is running for an open three-year seat. Board chairman Mark Cormier is running for another three year term.
Mark Cormier, incumbent
After serving nine years on the school board, Cormier is running for a fourth term because he’s “still concerned as a citizen and parent” and wants to see continued improvement in the schools.
Cormier said he’s seen the schools make improvement on all fronts, from academics to social aspects. He said the school board has worked to “give staff what they needed while being fiscally responsible.” Keeping the budget in check while enrollment declined was one of the board’s achievements, he said. Another would be the move of the central office to the high school, which he said makes better use of the school system’s buildings while also offering the central office staff improved workspace.
Cormier is looking forward to hearing what ideas Superintendent Mark Jenkins has for cost savings and identifying areas the union could streamline and work together on. “I enjoyed working with [former] Superintendent Webster, but I am excited to see what Mark [Jenkins] will bring to the table,” said Cormier. Jenkins became superintendent in August of 2012.
“I think the school board as a whole, through many meetings, has come to a consensus about how best to work together,” said Cormier. “I think the key to being an effective school board member is not to micromanage and to know our roles, to let the superintendent and administration do their jobs.”
Eaton is a graduate of the Deer Isle-Stonington school system and an employee at Penobscot East Resource Center. She has been a member of the Appeals Board in Deer Isle for three years, has worked on the development of the Marine Studies Pathway at the high school and has experience participating in decision-making processes through her work.
Eaton says she is excited about the Pathways program at the high school, and interested to see the continued development of the relationship between the schools and the Ready by 21 program.
Her primary goal is for the school system to have “an overall consistent commitment to preparation,” so students graduate prepared for both work and education. “I felt prepared when I graduated,” she said. “I would like to see every student have the same confidence I did.”
The challenge of declining or stagnant school enrollment and rising budget costs is one she recognizes. “It’s a pattern you see in a lot of small towns and communities in Maine. We need to look at it as a long-term commitment and investment in our community,” said Eaton.
Vaughn served a three-year term from 2008 to 2011. Vaughn spent a decade working as a college professor and time as chairman of his department, overseeing two curriculum reviews, making “tough allocation decisions” as well as conducting job searches and classroom evaluation.
There are three ideas that would guide Vaughn during a second term as a school board member if elected. The first is advocacy. Vaughn thinks school board members should be advocates for the school system and work with others to provide resources for the schools.
Second is accountability. “I have three kids in the school system and I’ve seen firsthand how teachers can transform lives,” he said. “But I’ve also seen our test scores are just not where they should be, and we need to be accountable to taxpayers.”
Third is aspirations. Vaughn said it’s important to help children, teachers and staff see school “as a way to move forward… so kids want to achieve more.”
For Vaughn, keeping the school in good shape is essential for the overall health of the community. “For us to remain vital in the next several decades, the schools must remain vibrant,” said Vaughn.