TOPSHAM — The Board of Selectmen on June 6 unanimously chose resident Patrick Coen to fill an upcoming vacancy on the School Administrative District 75 Board of Directors.

Coen, a member of the town’s Finance Committee since last July, will replace Matthew Drewette-Card, who in April announced his resignation effective July 1. His term expires in November 2020.

Since selectmen can only appoint a resident to fill the seat from July through this November, Coen will serve until that point, when an election will be held for a permanent replacement.

The 36-year-old Beaver Pond Road resident, a government auditing manager, is married and has three children. They moved to Topsham from southeastern Vermont in 2012.

Coen, one of a pool of four applicants for the position, said Monday that “when you have children in the school district, obviously you’re going to want a little more ownership of what’s taking place. I’ve always been interested in our educational systems; they’re such a vital part of the success and livelihood of our country, of any country, ultimately.”

“Our children are vitally important,” he added. “They become us, eventually.”


The past few months have been turbulent for SAD 75. Longtime Harpswell board members Joanne Rogers and David Johnson left in February, saying in a statement they felt they no longer had the trust of the board.

Discord also led the board to remove Kim Totten of Bowdoin as chairwoman.

Salary negotiations between the board and the teachers union have also been strained, with instructors saying their wage increases are not comparable with neighboring districts; SAD 75 voters at last month’s district budget meeting added $600,000 for teacher salary increases, and that spending plan went to a final referendum vote Tuesday.

Despite the conflicts, Drewette-Card attributed his departure to the “many personal, family, and professional commitments and obligations” he faces, and not to “any of the tumultuous or challenging events that have affected the School Board over the last months.”

Coen said he wants to offer “anything I can do right now to contribute to the community,” seeing his involvement on the Finance Committee as “an opportunity to help out.”

He said he did not have a firm position on the teacher salary dispute, but looks forward to learning more about the issue.


“It’s an emotional topic, and there are people on the far ends of both positions,” Coen said. “… I think we’ve really got to sort out what’s best; find that compromise that’s going to be best for the community, best for the teachers.”

He said SAD 75 teachers should be “compensated competitively.”

Coen declined to say whether he supported the budget proposal, saying, “I would prefer not to get into where I would stand on any of these matters at this point.”

Dave Douglass, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, praised Coen on June 7 for his work on the Finance Committee. He said it was partly Coen’s stance on the teacher salary matter that drew his support.

“He had no preconceived notions, and I thought that was really important,” Douglass said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.


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