After a year marked by friction over a full return to in-person instruction, anti-racism efforts and an attempted recall, the winners of Cumberland-North Yarmouth school district election say they are prepared to make all voices heard.

McGuinness

“As a community, I think we have some healing to do,” said Tom McGuinness, who won an open North Yarmouth seat June 8,  defeating Vanessa Bryant, 441-405. “This has been a really difficult year for all of us, and I believe that there are many in our community who feel like they are not being heard.”

Incumbent Ann Maksymowicz and Jason Record were elected to the open Cumberland seats with 915 and 822 votes, respectively, defeating Hannah Barry with 784, Viji Suresh 777 and Adam Dougherty 498.

After the school board’s decision in April not to return students to in-person learning five days a week until the fall, a pair of parents launched a petition for a recall vote on four board members whose terms were expiring in 2022 and 2023. The petition failed to receive enough support to put the recall in front of voters.

Maksymowicz

Record said his priorities are “transparency, openness and better PR for the board and better representation for all views in town.”

The board must promote initiatives driven by more than just half of the town, Record said, adding: “The board has a choice now whether we heal and collaborate, or the same unhealthy environment continues in the community.”

The board also faced backlash from parents during the past year for the district’s initiatives to combat racism, including the hiring of Community Change Inc., a consulting group that aims to disrupt systemic racism through education and programming.

Maksymowicz was targeted because of her work on the Equity Leadership Steering Committee and her views on combating racism.

“I recognize that not all community members hold the same beliefs I do — especially regarding anti-bias and anti-racism work, nor do I expect them to – but I believe my commitment to ensuring all members of our district are welcome and accepted shined through any differences or disagreements,” she said.

Record

Maksymowicz said she looks forward to continuing her work on the equity committee, as well as toward the district’s need for a new primary school. “We have a wonderful opportunity to provide a safe and accepting space for our littlest learners, while also balancing fiscal and environmental responsibility,” she said.

Record said he also supports “building a great, well thought out school with low cost and best value approach for best long term use and flexibility.”

“We need to get back to basics in education and focus on the many large challenges our world has that need to be fixed by smart, prepared young folks, outside of social matters,” he said.

McGuinness also spoke about ensuring all students have an opportunity for success. “Two district initiatives that I believe are essential to achieving this goal are the creation of inclusive school environments and the promotion of mental health for our students,” he said.

McGuinness also said he is prepared to ensure kids are back to school full-time in person this fall.

A sign outside the home of Shawn McBrearity in Cumberland last November showing school board member Ann Maksymowicz seated during the Pledge of Allegiance. McBrearity has been a vocal critic of SAD 51’s equity and inclusion training and of school officials.

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