October 26, 2013

Four candidates vying for two Sanford School Committee seats

Plans for a new high school and technical center likely will keep School Committee members busy for several years.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Four candidates are vying for two seats on the Sanford School Committee as the city prepares for construction of a new high school and technical center.

Incumbents Don Jamison and Robert Gendron are running for re-election, while challengers Scott Sheppard and John Roux are running to unseat one or both of them. The two candidates with the most votes on Nov. 5 will serve three-year terms.

Construction of the new state-funded high school and state-of-the-art technical center won’t begin until 2015, but school officials are already working on plans that will likely keep the school committee busy for the next several years. The committee also oversees the $34 million annual education budget.

Gendron, 70, is finishing his third term on the board and said he would like to continue working on the high school project, the district’s shift to a student-centered performance-based learning model and the introduction of Common Core standards.

Gendron said he brings much experience to the board, including in the budget process.

“We have to be careful about how much money we consume because it raises taxes. There is a very fine balance,” he said. “Quite frankly, we as a School Committee are trying mightily to make sure we have minimal, if any, tax increases. Our goal is to not raise taxes.”

Jamison, a 40-year-old father of two in Sanford schools, is finishing his first term on the board. Like Gendron, he said he would like to continue his involvement with ongoing district projects.

“I just want to be involved to help improve the community,” he said, adding he has already overcome the learning curve and is experienced enough to easily continue his work on the board.

Jamison, an industrial engineer, said one of his main focuses is on the education budget.

“We’re trying to keep (state education cuts) from impacting the local tax rate as much as we can,” he said. “I do a lot of cost cutting efficiency stuff in my professional career. I think I bring that to the table as far as being on the School Committee.”

Roux, 53, has long been involved in Sanford schools as a football and basketball coach and with various committees, but decided to run for the School Committee to get involved in a different way. He was appointed earlier this year to fill part of Adam Cote’s term after he resigned, but is now seeking a longer term.

Roux said his focus will remain on listening to others and improving communication between the school department and the city.

He said he also wants to focus on the “wish list” for the high school project. The state will pay for the school, but the city would be on the hook for some extra costs, like a larger auditorium or bleachers for playing fields, he said.

“There are a lot of things the community may want, but we have to be conservative because we have to pay for those things,” he said. “We have to make sure we don’t burden the taxpayers with this new school.”

Sheppard did not respond to interview requests.

Meanwhile, Thomas Miscio is running unopposed to fill out the remainder of the term of Cote, who resigned when he was deployed with the military. Miscio, 36, is an assistant district attorney in York County making his first run for political office. The term expires in December 2014.

 

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

ggraham@pressherald.com

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