Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, February 16, 2017
Two seats, one contested race for CSD #13
by Monique Labbe
Two open seats on the CSD #13 school board have drawn interest from three candidates. Skip Greenlaw seeks reelection to a three-year term in an uncontested race, while Loring Kydd is running against Amy Vaughn for an open one-year seat caused by a board vacancy. Kydd has held the seat on an interim basis since last June.
Island Ad-Vantages interviewed all candidates via email; questions and answers for each follow.
Elections will be held Monday, March 6, as part of the Deer Isle and Stonington town meetings.
Loring Kydd, one-year term
A native of Deer Isle, Loring Kydd has involved himself in several community organizations over the years, many of which have related to the youth on the island. He is a member of the Island Adult Education committee, the Reach Performing Arts Center committee and the School Policy Subcommittee, as well as the Island Education Foundation.
Why seeking election: “Initially I was appointed to the school board by the Deer Isle Selectmen to fill a vacancy for 2016-17. This experience has been extremely rewarding. I decided to run for the remaining one-year term due to the encouragement of many residents of our island community as well as my own desire to continue the good work we are accomplishing.”
What makes you a suitable candidate: “My decades-long career in education, both as a teacher and administrator, my previous school board experience in Orrington and my present experience on the DISHS school board, as well as a genuine desire to do all that I can to improve our school system for our children and youth.”
Problems with the board historically, and what can be done to improve them: “Recently the school board had not been working together as a team. Just as in a sports team, to be successful all members must be focused on the same goal, willing to devote the time and effort necessary to improve, to eliminate seeking individual recognition, and to do the best you can all the time. I am committed to working as a team knowing that we can accomplish more together than when working as individuals.”
Role of the school board: “The role of the school board is defined legally in State of Maine statutes.
“The School Board’s most important duties are to adopt various policies governing the operation of the school system, to efficiently and effectively manage the school system, to select the Superintendent, to provide an annual budget and to establish courses of study in keeping with our students’ needs and best practices.”
What are some of the ways the schools have changed over the years: “When I graduated with honors from Deer Isle High School, I thought that I was adequately prepared for college. I quickly found out that was not the case. At that time the academic expectations were very low and minimum school facilities were available. I believe it is fair to say that a quality education was not a high priority.
“Now the services available to students are greatly improved. There are more course offerings, better educational facilities, college coaching, innovative principals and teachers, more student involvement, greater number of extracurricular activities, Ready by 21, Project Launch, and the integration of technology into the curriculum.”
Amy Vaughn, one-year term
Amy Vaughn has been a mother of students at the Deer Isle-Stonington schools for 13 years, and has actively been involved in several community programs over the last eight, including Ready By 21 Mentoring, Kids in the Kitchen, the Island Heating Assistance Program, a summer math and reading program, early childhood initiatives and an after-school program.
Why seeking election: “I decided to run for the School Board because I love the children and youth of this community and I am grateful for the education my three children have received. I also have a healthy dose of concern for the future of our schools. Funding has decreased and challenges are increasing. I am an informed and involved parent and I will represent the voices of students, parents, and teachers through the budget and strategic planning processes. I am particularly concerned by the level of administrative spending per pupil. Two years ago the school budget was cut by half a million dollars, resulting in significant losses in classroom teachers and resources for students. Last year more than $100,000 was added to administrative costs while regular education and student support services were cut even further.”
What makes you a suitable candidate: “I am a good candidate because I am an involved parent and invested community member. I have 20 years of professional experience in youth development work that included participation in dropout prevention summits. In my past job, I worked with schools on student health initiatives and substance abuse prevention. I also helped write several grants that benefited our island schools. As a parent of three children in our schools, I have followed the transition to proficiency education and I am well acquainted with the special education system. I have managed successful school-community collaborations on this island, and I would bring my strengths as a good listener and a team player to service on the school board.”
Problems with the board historically, and what can be done to improve them: “The school board can do a better job communicating with the community and parents. I would like to help develop a shared vision for our schools and help communicate both the excellent work and the challenges. I have experience overseeing non-profit budgets and state grants, and I would like to help make the budget process more accessible and transparent. As an involved parent and active volunteer, I would help ensure that the voices of students, parents, and teachers are heard and carefully considered. Unity and cohesion among the board and administrators must never come at the expense of neglecting the voices of students, parents, and teachers. I would work to ensure that these groups remain engaged and heard.”
Role of the school board: “The school board should provide the best education possible for our children within the capabilities of state and local resources. The school board should advocate for our children and make the community aware of our responsibility to the next generation. The school board has an important role in helping community members understand what can often be complex issues in our educational system and listening for their input to shape the vision for our schools.”
What are some of the ways the schools have changed over the years: “While I did not attend school on the island, I have had children in our schools for the past 13 years. The schools were the largest factor in our decision to move to Deer Isle. The students here are smart, kind, and accepting of differences. The teachers and staff care deeply about their students and build a strong web of connections and supports from kindergarten through high school. While these strengths remain, I see more challenges today than a decade ago. We now face challenges in the transition to Common Core standards and proficiency education. We have increased levels of student need and decreased funding. Our school size and island location means we lose economy of scale, but it gives us a strong foundation of community support and the power of personally involved teachers and staff. I believe we should play to those strengths.”
Skip Greenlaw, three-year term, unopposed
Skip Greenlaw has served on the island school board since 1983, and has years of experience in legislation, working at the state level in Augusta during former governor Joseph Brennan’s tenure.
Why running again: “My work is not finished. I have been working to get help for students who can’t read, because literacy is so important for the students in our schools. I remember I had an employee who was a student at the high school, and he told me he was having trouble at school and that he would not be able to graduate on time. I went over to the school and found out he couldn’t read. I was devastated. I’ve been working to help students improve their reading since then. It’s an ongoing process.
“I also love public policy, because of my time working in the legislature in Augusta.”
What makes you a suitable candidate: “I think I’m a suitable candidate because I don’t have an agenda. I don’t have personal grudges or axes to grind. I think teachers love seeing me in the schools. I was blown away at one teacher workshop when four ed. techs came up and thanked me for being there.
“I just hope that I can help improve education for the kids on the island. I think I’m a pretty good leader, I work well with people and I love to listen to people. If we can’t do something to make education better for the kids then we haven’t been successful.”
Problems with the board historically, and what can be done to improve them: “In all honesty, I think there is some limitation to what the school board can do. I think much of the improvement has a lot to do with the superintendent and principals, and we have some great administration right now. It’s important for the school board members to be conduits for people in the community to talk to. I think sometimes people in the community don’t feel comfortable approaching the administration with concerns or questions, so it’s important for us to be that bridge.”
Role of the school board: “Again, it’s important for us to be a voice for the community. The board also needs to be a balance for budgets, and be transparent in terms of what we do during meetings and what goes on at the school and get that information out to the community. There are so many good things going on at our school, it’s our job to make sure that’s communicated.”