The Scarborough Board of Education candidates during the town’s Candidate Night 2020 on Sept. 28. There are two seats on the board open.

SCARBOROUGH — Three candidates are running for two open seats on the Scarborough Board of Education this Nov. 3 election, one is running for re-election and there are two challengers.

On Sept. 28, the three candidates, current School Board Chair Leanne Kazilionis, John David Dittmer, and Mary Shannon Lindstrom, answered questions through Scarborough’s Candidate Night 2020, which was held over Zoom this year and presented through the Scarborough Community Chamber of Commerce.

Kevin Freeman of the Chamber of Commerce served as a moderator, introducing the candidates and reading public questions.

Dittmer is a medical practice manager who is a member of the Scarborough Education Foundation and former vice president of the Scarborough Volley Ball Boosters, and has served on the Wentworth Building Committee, Freeman said. He previously ran for the Board of Education in 2019.

Kazilionis works as a business systems analyst at WEX and has been the chair of the Board of Education since 2018, Freeman said. She is on the board of directors for the Apex Youth Connections, formerly Community Bicycle Center, serving as president from 2015 to 2017, and served as committee chairwoman of Troop 47 of the Boy Scouts of America from 2015 to 2018.

Lindstrom is self-employed, is president of MSL Financial Counseling, LLC, offering leadership and developmental training, financial counseling and financial education services for credit unions and credit union leagues, Freeman said. Since 2019, she has been president of the Searidge Homeowner’s Association, was on the Greenfield Farm Homeowner’s Association from 2005-2010, and served as communications officer, Northwest Federal Credit Union Foundation, from 2008 to 2013, which is responsible for school partnerships and education scholarships.

During the Board of Education section of Candidate Night, Freeman asked candidates questions involving the budget, to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of racism, and about a consolidated primary school.

“I am a big collaborator,” Lindstrom said in response to a question about approaching the future leadership to the Scarborough School System. “I enjoy working on teams where we each bring something different to the table, different perspectives, different experiences, different education, so we work together and use our strengths collaboratively to come up with the best answer, the best result. Our job is really to set the vision and the missions for the leaders, and then we allow the leaders to manage those aspects of the day-to-day.”

She added in addition to dealing with the day-to-day aspects, a school board member also has a role in setting direction for the school district.

Dittmer said that racism within the school system needs to be acknowledged when it happens, referencing an incident at a soccer game where Scarborough fans were chanting racist sentiments at an opposing team.

The board should have a “gentle but firm” hand when dealing with racism, he said, adding that someone may not know that something they say is racist.

Kazilionis, when answering the question, referenced a recent time when the Board of Education took action by approving the removal of the Native American mural in the Plummer Gym, which was brought forward by students.

She said that strong policies ensure that there are strong reactions to racist and other sensitive situations, including sexual harassment.

All three candidates said that they did not support a arbitrary default cap on budget increases, which would control spending increases.

When asked about how she would balance the needs of the district with proposals from union representatives, Kazilionis said that is fundamental to everything the board does.

“In looking at the past contract negotiation, we did take some heat as a board with the raises that were in there, but we felt very strongly that we needed to endorse and recognize the great work of our staff,” she said. ” … We’re strong as a town because we have a strong school system.”

To the same question, Lindstrom said it’s important that teachers feel a desire to work in Scarborough Schools and won’t immediately leave if a “better” opportunity opens up.

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