PORTLAND – Three open School Committee seats in Tuesday’s election have attracted a diverse mix of candidates.

At-large incumbents Jaimey Caron and Kate Snyder are being challenged in their re-election bids by Morton Soule, a retired teacher.

In District 3, Laurie Davis, a former Portland school administrator, and Frank Gallagher, a communications consultant, are running for the seat held by Peter Eglinton, who isn’t seeking re-election.

The committee has nine members, with four at-large seats and five district seats.

AT-LARGE

Caron and Snyder were elected three years ago, after a budget crisis that led the district’s superintendent and finance director to resign.

Both have been leaders in the committee’s effort to regain control over the district’s finances and set a new course through multi-year budgeting, long-range facilities management and comprehensive planning for everything from staffing to co-curricular activities.

Both have been endorsed by the Portland teachers union and the League of Young Voters.

Caron, 45, is a project manager and a structural engineer with Burns & McDonnell in New Gloucester. He is married and has two sons who attend Portland public schools. He served on the city’s Planning Board for nine years before joining the School Committee, on which he is chairman of the facilities subcommittee and a member of the finance committee.

If re-elected, Caron said, he will continue his efforts to bring accountability, leadership and a clear sense of direction to the committee.

“I think we’ve successfully done that and positioned ourselves to be more future-oriented,” Caron said. “Now we’re focusing on the big issues that promise to have the most impact, not just next year, but for the next 10 years, by making decisions based on hard data.”

Snyder, 40, is program development manager for the Maine Board of Corrections. She is married and has three children who attend Portland public schools. She is chairwoman of the finance subcommittee and led the effort to reinstate foreign language classes in the city’s elementary schools.

If re-elected, Snyder said, she will work to maintain the momentum for change in several areas through comprehensive planning.

“We have regained the confidence of the community and we have a strong superintendent and central office staff,” Snyder said. “We need to make decisions that strengthen our programs and ensure that parents will choose to send their children to Portland schools.”

Soule, 65, is married and has four grown children and five grandchildren. He served one term on the school board for Cumberland and North Yarmouth in the 1980s before moving back to Portland 17 years ago.

Soule taught English and Latin in Portland public high schools for 34 years before retiring eight years ago. He still teaches Latin, part time at Cape Elizabeth High School. “The secret to retirement is to keep working,” he said.

Soule said that running for School Committee is a natural progression for a retired teacher. If elected, he said, he will focus on getting Riverton Community School off the state’s list of the 10 persistently lowest-performing schools.

The district has received a three-year, $3.4 million federal grant to implement a detailed school-improvement plan that includes intensive staff development and expanded learning opportunities for students.

DISTRICT 3

District 3 covers the Libbytown, Stroudwater, Nason’s Corner, Rosemont and University of Southern Maine neighborhoods.

Davis, 58, of 134 Oakdale St., is divorced and has two grown sons and a stepdaughter. She was elected last year to the now-disbanded Portland Charter Commission, which developed the proposal for a popularly elected mayor that’s on Tuesday’s ballot.

Davis heads the Upward Bound program at USM and coordinated federal No Child Left Behind funding in Portland public schools from 1997 to 2007. Her professional experience includes grant management for various agencies, early childhood education and educational leadership instruction at USM.

She has been endorsed by the Portland teachers union and the League of Young Voters.

If elected, Davis said, she will use her diverse experience to promote programs that increase the success of all students.

“I get the connection between the dollars spent on education and the outcome,” Davis said. “I want to make sure all of our students are well prepared for higher education or the work force, from preschool through adult education. We have to look at what we’re doing, what it costs and whether it’s working.”

Gallagher, 44, of 153 Ashmont St., is married and has three children, including one who attends Longfellow Elementary School. He worked as a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist in San Francisco for four years and was deputy director of the Treasure Island Development Authority for more than a year.

He has been endorsed by Gov. John Baldacci, who knows Gallagher because Gallagher grew up in Bangor and worked at Momma Baldacci’s Italian Restaurant while he was attending the University of Maine.

Gallagher said his children provide a very personal and long-term interest in the school district. He said he would bring diverse leadership experience to the committee and a desire to continue its current trend of accountability.

If elected, Gallagher said, he will use his communications experience to improve public access to information about the district.

 

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]