Four candidates for the Scarborough Board of Education, which has three open seats this fall, and Kevin Freeman, moderator. On Sept. 30, viewers and Freeman asked the candidates questions about what they hoped to accomplish if elected Nov. 2. Screenshot

SCARBOROUGH — Candidates running for the Scarborough Board of Education discussed issues like health, safety and new school facilities during a Sept. 30 virtual panel.

John Kelleher, Jenna Leong, Joshua Pobrislo and Jillian Trapini-Huff answered viewer-submitted questions, fielded by moderator Kevin Freeman and the Scarborough Community Chamber of Commerce, about topics like consolidating Scarborough’s three primary schools and the replacement of the high school turf field and track.

On Nov. 2, Scarborough residents will vote for three of the four candidates to fill three open spaces on the Board of Education.

A Scarborough High School graduate, Kelleher is a project manager with two children in Scarborough Public Schools, Freeman said.

When asked if he supported a new track and turf field for the high school, which is also a ballot question this fall, Kelleher said that he supported the investment.

“We need to have all facilities to match the education that people are getting,” Kelleher said.

Freeman asked the candidates why they were choosing to run and what they thought they could do to create a good  environment for students to learn.

“We really are still in the middle of the pandemic,” Kelleher said. “It’s not business as usual.”

He noted that Scarborough’s schools are strong in the ability to adapt to students needs, especially during the pandemic, when one of his own children was struggling.

This kind of flexibility needs to continue moving forward, Kelleher said, adding later that one of his strengths is the ability to listen to other people’s needs.

A registered dietician and long-term post-acute care and consultant for hospice, Trapini-Huff said that she is running because she has an invested interest in the school system and believes public education is vital to the community.

“My goals include maintaining current and creating new ways for kids and teachers to be involved with solving the issues that our school faced and by ensuring adequate opportunities to join committees to provide insight,” she said.

Trapini-Huff said she supports a new track and turf field. The facility serves the whole community, she said, not only the students, who may need to relocate for practices if the field’s condition worsens.

“People walk and run there and it’s an asset to our town, so without question, I would support the replacement of that, and if it doesn’t pass in the fall, we will need to come together and find another plan quickly,” she said.

Pobrislo is a firefighter, paramedic and local health officer for another municipality, Freeman said. He and his family have been living in Scarborough for the last nine years.

“I feel that I can lend a lot to the board in an advisory capacity with regards to my public health experience and public health knowledge and health and safety knowledge,” Pobrislo said.

A supporter of consolidating Scarborough’s three primary schools — Blue Point, Pleasant Hill and Eight Corners — Pobrislo said that from a safety perspective, having three separate facilities can be more troubling than maintaining one during routine drills.

“We’re growing at a tremendous rate and we’re busting at the seems at all of our (primary) schools” he said. “It is time that we start moving to a model in which we can bring all those together with the forethought and plan that we’re going to continue to grow and make facilities that are conducive for educating, playing and for learning as well as including or thinking about the safety components that sometimes are a concern of ours.”

Leong, an experienced educator, child life specialist and administrator in educational settings, said she supported consolidating the primary schools because modular classrooms are not a permanent solution.

“All these portables for our smaller schools — it’s just a quick fix, and we’re a growing community,” she said.

A parent of three, with two children currently enrolled in Scarborough public schools, Leong said that her goal is to get to know the entire community.

“It is a growing community and it continues to get more diverse as it grows, so we do have lots of ideas,” she said.

A “one-size-fits-all” approach to education will not work for every student and parent, Leong said.

“What I really want is for everyone to notice that there are different types of learning, different ways of learning, and the best way to go about this is if we can provide as many options as possible to our students to better their education,” she said.

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