Friday, December 6, 2013
YARMOUTH — Four candidates are running for three open seats on the Yarmouth School Committee in the June 12 municipal election.
MEETING, VOTE LOOM ON TOWN, SCHOOL BUDGETS
YARMOUTH — Voters at Yarmouth's annual town meeting June 5 will consider a combined $32 million municipal and school budget proposal for fiscal 2013, which is up 2 percent over current spending, according to Town Manager Nat Tupper.
The meeting at Harrison Middle School will start at 7 p.m.
The $10.9 million town services budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 is up $271,289 or 2.55 percent over current spending. It includes $2.2 million for public safety, $2.8 million for public works and $2.3 million for general government.
The $20.2 million school budget proposal is up $365,675 or 1.85 percent over current spending, as recommended by the School Committee and Town Council.
If voters approve the budgets as proposed, the town's tax rate would increase from $20.28 to $21.15 per $1,000 of property value, with $14.62 covering school expenses and $6.53 covering town and county expenses.
Under the higher rate, the annual tax bill on a $300,000 home would increase $261, from $6,084 to $6,345.
A town referendum on the school budget will be held June 12, when voters also will consider candidates for Town Council, School Committee and Yarmouth Water District Board of Trustees.
The only contested town race is for School Committee, which has three open at-large seats and four candidates: Susan Garrett, David Ray, Timothy Wheaton and Craig Wolff.
-- Kelley Bouchard
Two incumbents, David Ray and Craig Wolff, face challengers Tim Wheaton, a former committee member, and Susan Garrett, a political newcomer.
Garrett, 51, is an actor, teacher and director who has a bachelor's degree in English from Bowdoin College and a master's degree in creative nonfiction writing from Goucher College in Baltimore, Md.
She's married and has three children -- the eldest and youngest attend town schools and the middle child attends the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., his father's alma mater.
"There are a lot of things I like about the school system, but some things need to be addressed," Garrett said. "I am committed to public schools."
Garrett said she would push for a coherent curriculum for kindergarten through high school that can be accessed easily online; a line-by-line budget review to promote efficiency; a strategic plan with measurable goals for the next decade; better communication between the committee and the public; and defined methods to evaluate the performance of all school employees.
Ray, 59, is an attorney at Bernstein Shur in Portland, where he specializes in construction contract law and dispute resolution. Married with one child in the school district, Ray graduated from the University of Maine and Cornell University School of Law.
Ray has been on the committee for nine of the last 10 years, including the last two as chairman and four on the finance subcommittee. Ray said he would support continued curriculum improvement reflecting common core standards and work to preserve a culture of invested teachers, administrators, parents and students.
"We have one of the best school systems in Maine and I want to make sure we preserve the quality of our schools despite diminishing revenues," Ray said.
Wheaton, 50, is national accounts marketing director at Unum, where he has worked for 26 years. He has a bachelor's degree in government, legal studies and economics from Bowdoin College. Two of his three children attend town schools; the eldest has graduated.
Wheaton served two terms on the committee, from 2003 to 2009, including stints as chairman, vice chairman and chairman of the finance, school consolidation and superintendent search subcommittees.
"I'm not an issue candidate," Wheaton said. "I'm looking to make further improvements, certainly, but I want to sustain and support a high-performing school district."
Wheaton said the district will continue to face financial challenges, including negotiating a new teachers' contract. He said he has the experience and credibility to work collaboratively with various community groups, including the Town Council.
Wolff, 42, is a prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland, holding degrees from Harvard University and the University of Virginia School of Law. He's married with one son who attends town schools and another who will soon, and he's wrapping up his first term on the committee.
"One of the reasons we chose to live in Yarmouth was the quality of the schools," Wolff said. "I'd like to continue working to maintain that quality."
Wolff said he would support further investment in school technology, promote programs that prepare students for a global job market and expect to see additional curriculum updates, especially in math and science.
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org