GORHAM — Three new members will be added to the seven-member Gorham School Committee in the Nov. 3 election.

Four candidates are vying for the three-year seats: James Brockman, a business analyst; Nicole Hudson, a former special education teacher; Sarah Perkins, a credit union CEO; and Leah Sturm, an environmental scientist.

Three of the four hopefuls will replace Jennifer Whitehead, William Benson and Vice Chairperson Kate Livingston, who chose not to seek reelection.

The election comes as the School Committee has been grappling with plans for a new high school to ease overcrowding and as the district adjusts to new strategies for teaching and learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

Brockman

“Safely delivering quality education” during the coronavirus pandemic is the most important issue to Brockman.

“The best way for the School Committee to do that is by listening: listening to guidance from the federal and state CDC; listening to the concerns of parents; and listening to the concerns of educators,” he said.

“If elected, I will stay educated on the latest health guidance and be transparent about my decision-making process,” Brockman said.

While doing that, he will also “work hard to address the need to provide space in the schools for Gorham’s increasing population,” said, adding that the space issue needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

“School capacity must increase to safely educate our kids. The high school needs to be renovated or rebuilt. Delaying that work will only make it more expensive,” Brockman said.

Hudson

Hudson said pandemic’s impact on the school district and its staff and families is her No. 1 concern.

“The biggest issue facing our schools is the need to provide accessible, high quality education for all students in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools look very different this year, which create a number of challenges for school staff and students alike,” she said.

School staff members are being asked to “do more with less” and adjust their teaching strategies, she said, while “students and families are struggling with increased demands and responsibilities at home and in school.”

“As a School Committee member, I would use my background as a teacher, and a parent, to hear concerns or struggles and look for ways to address these issues, ” Hudson said.

“For instance, if teachers are struggling to balance in-person and remote instruction, perhaps there are ways
to create additional training or time to meet those needs. I look forward to the opportunity to work collaboratively with administrators, school staff, students and families, and the Gorham community to address these challenges.

Perkins

The two top concerns for Perkins are the need to balance quality school facilities with community affordability and the impact of COVID-19 on the schools.

“Our kids need functional, practical places to learn and grow. Our community needs to remain affordable in
order to continue to thrive,” Perkins said.

That balancing act will be a major issue in the next few years, she said.

“My background renovating and building commercial properties for credit unions will help me navigate these
conversations and work to find the right balance,” she said.

COVID-19 impacts continue to necessitate changes in how education is delivered, she said.

“The ability to provide quality education during these times, as well as understanding the impact long-term, is
another crucial issue for Gorham,” Perkins said. “The School Committee, administration, teachers and staff
have done incredible work over the past several months, but the impact of this challenge is far from over.”

Sturm

Dealing with the pandemic also tops the list of Sturm’s concerns.

“There is no doubt that we will continue to focus on how COVID-19 is affecting the schools, and this will likely dominate in the short-term,” Sturm said.

But she sees other priorities, too, such as civil rights issues and population growth.

“We need to continue raising civil rights awareness in all the schools, working with both students and administration to continue the forward momentum,” she said.

“Additionally, the persistent growth of our town continues to impact our school facilities. The School Committee has already spent so much time working toward solutions,  and this work will continue as the student population continues to outgrow our facilities,” she said.

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