SCARBOROUGH — Budget issues are top concerns for all three candidates vying for two School Board seats in the Nov. 5 election.
The candidates are sitting board member John Cole, 61, and political newcomers Jane Leng, 43, and Jodi Shea, 39.
Cole, who is a software developer at Unum, said he’s running for a third three-year term on the six-member board because he wants to continue working toward the goals outlined recently in a new community vision for the town’s public schools. He said he’s pleased with the direction the school district is heading under the leadership of a new superintendent, George Entwistle III.
“Since he has come on board, I think all of the board members are starting to see we can raise the level of education in our schools and I want to see that through,” said Cole, who has a grandson who attends Blue Point Primary School.
Given the town’s budget challenges, Cole said the board must balance competing needs so educators have the resources to provide the best education taxpayers can afford. The board also must improve communication with parents, teachers, community members and the media, he said, and should have regular open discussions with townspeople to “chew the fat” about random education issues.
“We don’t do enough of that,” Cole said.
Leng is a homemaker who has a master’s degree in finance from Texas A&M University and work experience as a financial analyst and accountant. She said she’s running because she believes her financial expertise would help the board oversee a $38 million budget.
“Financial resources are always going to be scarce for everyone,” Leng said. “It is imperative to efficiently use our resources. I would like to contribute my skills to look out for all taxpayers of Scarborough.”
Leng said she has a deep respect for education, in part because her parents were teachers, and she believes the district can do more to promote academic achievement within budget constraints. Leng has two children who attend town schools.
“I grew up in China, where we didn’t have much material-wise, but children still were able to learn,” Leng said. “Scarborough is such a sports town. I want to put the focus on academic excellence. Everybody must try to do their best and work together and work harder.”
Shea is an art gallery manager and founding member of the Scarborough Education Foundation, which raises money to provide grants for innovative educational programs in the classroom and in the field.
Shea said she decided to run primarily because she has two children who attend town schools, but also because she wants to support innovative thinking across the district.
“The Scarborough School Board needs to balance traditional learning and innovative ideas,” Shea said. “What worked for us 25 years ago doesn’t necessarily work today.”
Shea said she has been impressed with the forward-thinking educators she has met and wants to promote similar ideas. At the same time, she said, she’s well aware of the fiscal responsibilities that board members have to keep costs down and limit the impact on taxpayers.
“We’ve got all the pieces in place to make Scarborough one of the best school systems in the state,” she said.
Kelley Bouchard can be reached at 791-6328 or at: