Eleven candidates are vying for seven seats on the Biddeford School Committee in the Nov. 5 election.

Rebecca Henry

In Biddeford, school committee candidates run at-large for two-year terms. However, the city charter stipulates that no more than two school committee members can be from the same ward.

This year four candidates are running from Ward 3, which means only the two with the most votes would be seated if all were among the top seven candidates. The four candidates from Ward 3 are Lisa Vadnais, Emily Henley, Amy Grohman and Cecily Silva.

Incumbents running for re-election are Vadnais, Dennis Anglea, Nathan Bean, Dominic Deschambault, Randy Forcier and Karen Ruel.

Anglea did not respond to a request for information about his candidacy.

Nathan Bean

Bean, 48, who holds a master’s degree in educational leadership and has served on the board since last year, said the district is headed in a positive direction and he wants to ensure that continues over the next two years.

“I will strive to accomplish this goal by focusing on ensuring that our school department is funded appropriately and that policies and programs are in place to support the diverse needs of all the learners in the district,” he said. “Having served on the school committee since last fall, I am certain Biddeford schools have strong leadership (and) dedicated teachers. The district is working hard to meet the needs of all students and consistently strives to offer more diverse programming to help all students achieve.”

Deschambault, 35, works in sales and marketing and has served on the school committee since 2017. He said he wants to continue “the good work we’ve been doing while maintaining a focus on improving the quality and experience of a public education in Biddeford.”

Dominic Deschambault

“There are many challenges facing public education these days, so I find it very important to remain informed and ready to act as needed. These challenges include growing poverty, safety, budgeting for unexpected needs and staff,” he said. “I aim to work toward positive and creative solutions in our capacity as a governing collective, elected by our peers.”

Forcier, a 37-year-old mortgage lender, was appointed to the board this year. He graduated from St. Anselm College and lives in Biddeford with his wife and three young daughters.

“I believe the strength of any community begins with the school system and I’m running for the Biddeford School Committee so we can continue to build a long-term vision that students, parents and the community can all be proud of,” he said. “My main goals are to improve the academic achievement of our students and retain our valued teachers and staff while (remaining) fiscally responsible.”

Randy Forcier

Ruel, a 51-year-old senior internal auditor at Unum, is seeking a third consecutive term on the board. A graduate of Biddeford High School, she said she believes quality education provides lifelong benefits.

Karen Ruel

“I understand the importance of a clear vision for the district, fiscally sound budget that supports educational needs and solid curriculum to improve student achievement,” she said. “As a school committee member, I believe it is imperative to support our entire community – students, families, teachers, staff and administration – with the necessary tools to ensure success.”

Vadnais, a 58-year-old educator and small-business owner, has served four terms on the school committee, including two years on the curriculum committee and eight years on the finance committee. She said she is running for another term to continue the “great gains” made in the past eight years, including zero percent tax increases and curriculum improvements.

Lisa Vadnais

“I have many years’ experience working in a public school and know firsthand what students need and what our educators need to provide the best education for our district,” she said. “Schools are the heart of our city. Public schools are what drive people to a certain area. I want to ensure that our schools are something to be proud of.”

Grohman, a 48-year-old office administrator who serves as board president of Heart of Biddeford, said she is seeking a school committee seat because she believes in the connection between quality public education and a vibrant, healthy community.

Amy Grohman

“As a school committee member, I would like to focus on issues facing low-income students, on attracting and retaining highly qualified educators and administrators, an on issues pertaining to new Mainers and their families,” she said. “I will also work to expand the connections between the school district and the Biddeford community.”

Henley, 28, is a classroom teacher at Westbrook Middle School who has done master’s-level coursework in education. She said she would like to use her experience in education to help strengthen Biddeford’s schools and community.

“I believe it is our duty and privilege to ensure that our schools are safe, welcoming and nurturing places for all of our city’s children,” she said. “As a board member, I would like to focus on supporting teachers, administrators and school staff – ensuring that educators have the tools and training they need to support their students and teach the academic and social-emotional skills Biddeford students need to be successful.”

Emily Henley

Rebecca Henry, a 39-year-old occupational therapist, is a lifelong Biddeford resident who believes the school system is a good representation of a community. She also wants to make the schools more environmentally friendly.

“Biddeford has some opportunities to strengthen its school system by improving supports for the teachers with increased teachers (and) increased aids,” she said. “One of the pillars that was rolled by the school system recently was increased self-care promotion. I feel this should be reinforced for the students as well as the staff.”

Bobby Mills

Bobby Mills, 54, is the York County treasurer and previously served 10 years on the Biddeford City Council. The father of six sons works as a direct support professional for people with brain injuries.

“I’m running to ensure we keep a balanced budget, the students have a quality educational experience and our exceptional school staff is treated fairly and justly,” he said.

Silva, 46, is the assistant director for children services/Head Start with York County Community Action Corporation and has served on a number of education-related committees in Maine and Connecticut. If elected, her goal is to support the district’s goals and commitment to students.

Cecily Silva

“I believe that the district has made a commitment to ensure quality education to all children and is working to understand the changing demographic and current needs of the children in Biddeford,” she said. “I would take a special interest in the work that the district has started around understanding the impacts of trauma, mental health and substance abuse. It is important that children’s basic needs be met and for them to feel safe for them to have success in school.”

This story has been updated at 11:40 a.m. on Oct. 21 to correct the spelling of a name.


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