Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, February 13, 2014
Three candidates for two DIS school board seats on ballot
by Jessica Brophy
Three candidates are on the ballot in Deer Isle and Stonington, vying for two open three-year seats on the CSD #13 school board.
The two seats up for election are currently held by Lawrence “Skip” Greenlaw, who is running for reelection, and Linda Nelson, who is not running for reelection.
The three candidates are all from Stonington: Greenlaw, Milton “Skipper” Allen and Virginia Peacock.
In Deer Isle, voters will head to the town hall to vote in elections between 7:20 and 11:30 a.m. on Monday, March 3. Town Meeting will reconvene at 2 p.m. at the town hall to act on the remaining warrant articles.
In Stonington, polling hours will be open from 8 a.m. to noon upstairs at the town office on Monday, March 3. Town meeting starts at 3 p.m.
Milton “Skipper” Allen
Skipper Allen is running for school board as a life-long island resident and a graduate of the Deer Isle-Stonington school system. He is also the father of two daughters who went through the system.
“I believe the system has let us down as a community in general,” said Allen in a written statement provided to the newspaper.
Allen said the current school board, principals and superintendent are “self-serving” and “more concerned with the school system than the student.”
The system caters to an “elite few, casts away the needs of the most in need and allows the general body to get by,” he continued.
“I believe our children and grandchildren deserve more. As a school board member, I will make teachers, principals and superintendent be held responsible for their failures,” said Allen.
Lawrence “Skip” Greenlaw
Skip Greenlaw has served as a school board member since 1983 with the exception of a five-year period. Greenlaw says he has strong administrative and organizational skills, as well as “institutional memory and experience.” He was originally inspired to run for the school board when someone who worked for him was unable to get his diploma and couldn’t read very well. Reading remains his primary passion as a school board member.
Toward that end, Greenlaw would like to see a “major push” for reading to be a focus K-12 in the schools, by scheduling the first few hours of each day to be focused on reading. This idea has been implemented successfully elsewhere. “If you learn to read, you can self-educate,” he said.
Greenlaw is also committed to launching a pre-K program in September of 2015. “I think it’s one of the most important things we can do to make sure students are prepared coming in,” he said.
The shift toward proficiency-based diplomas—granting degrees based on whether a student has mastered various skills—is an idea Greenlaw supports and would like to see extended K-12. “It’s not about wanting to hold people back, it’s about needing students to have the skills,” he said.
Greenlaw is excited about the Marine Studies Pathway at the high school and the other pathways to follow. “I think the administration and faculty have thought outside the box and [have] done their homework on new ways to educate students,” he said. “That hands-on element is really positive.”
If reelected, Greenlaw said he will continue to work with superintendent Mark Jenkins on refining the role of the board. “We’ve worked hard to get away from micromanagement,” he said.
Virginia Peacock, pastor at St. Brendan the Navigator Episcopal Church in Deer Isle, said she has been involved with education her whole life.
“My own life has been greatly enriched by my privileges of education,” she said. Peacock, who raised two children as a single parent, says she knows “how important schools can be.”
As a pastor, she said, she’s aware of both the needs in the communities and the “difficulties of modern life.” The communities here are very invested in the schools, and the community’s health is supported by the schools, she continued.
Peacock previously taught chemistry at the high school level, so she said she knows what “life in a public high school is like.”
She decided it was time to run for public office five years after she was “called to serve” the community at St. Brendan’s.
“My sermons often talk about the importance of being involved and serving the community,” said Peacock. “I felt it was the right time with the congregation and in my life to step up and become more involved.”
The challenges Peacock sees include implementing a unified K-12 approach, and the transition to a proficiency-based diploma.
“The pathways programs have the potential to greatly enrich the education experience,” said Peacock.
Peacock said her guiding principle as a board member would be the “common good” and she said she hopes to work with the administration and the other board members with a sense of “being on the same team.”