The seven newcomers running for two seats on the Cumberland-North Yarmouth school board have various ideas on how to address increasing enrollment in SAD 51 and how the district’s ongoing equity and inclusion work can best be implemented.

Leanne Candura and Tim Valenti are running for one, three-year term to represent North Yarmouth on the School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors.

Five other newcomers – Hannah Barry, Nicholas Dambrie, Dwight Deckelmann, Christina Mitchell and Kim Vine – are running for one of two open seats for Cumberland, both three-year terms.

Peter Bingham and Jennifer Stewart are not running for re-election in Cumberland and Kevin Desmond is not seeking re-election in North Yarmouth.

In the face of steadily increasing enrollment, SAD 51 plans to build a new school in North Yarmouth. All seven candidates were asked how the student population increase can best be addressed.


Candura, who is 43 and a Democrat with two children in the middle school, said the 21 portable classrooms on the Mabel I. Wilson and Greely Middle School campuses in Cumberland are restricting outdoor spaces for students.


“We’re a desirable community and families will continue to move here; we need a place where they can have that experience we all envision for what a good school community looks like,” Candura said.

She has a degree in sociology from Stonehill College and a master’s in public health from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Valenti said Mabel I. Wilson Elementary School’s infrastructure is not sufficient to handle the community’s growth, but the school has other issues as well.  The district needs to invest more in the school’s before- and after-school programs, janitors and tutors and improve its outdoor spaces, he said.

All investments “need to be aligned with students’ needs,”  said Valenti, who is 38 with two children in the district. He works at CT3, a teacher and principal coaching organization, and Climb Hire, a nonprofit that provides access to training and job placement. He declined to share his political affiliation.


Dambrie, 46 with a son in first grade, said building a new school in collaboration between the School Board and town planning boards, and hiring qualified staff are the best ways to address increasing enrollment. Dambrie also declined to share his political affiliation.

Deckelmann, a 52-year-old stay-at-home father of three, said the district “has to meet the growth” by reviewing facility and faculty needs and addressing those needs head-on.


Mitchell, an English language teacher at the University of Southern Maine, said the district needs a long-range plan and also thinks there needs to be more collaboration between Cumberland and North Yarmouth, specifically in sharing facilities. She declined to share her political affiliation.

Barry, a 44-year-old mother of four, said there are “far too many portable classrooms” and the district needs to bring the issue of a new school to voters. She said, “the district has an obligation to meet the physical needs of our infrastructure.”

Vine, who is 51 and has a child who attends Greely Middle School, said having a facility where teachers and students can effectively teach and learn is important, and while she is in favor of a new school, having a full staff of qualified teachers is even more important.


The Forecaster also asked the seven candidates to weigh in on the district’s work to develop an equity and inclusion plan.

Professional development is key to the equity work, Candura said, and bringing in professionals, such as Lawrence Alexander, who spoke at SAD 51 schools many times over the last year, has been very productive. Candura added that engaging families and making sure all the curriculum is up-to-date is also important.

Candura was a board member of Mahoosuc Kids after-school and summer camp program, a member of the Oxford County Committee of the Maine Community Foundation and a former youth soccer coach. She works as vice president at Human Services Research Institute.



Valenti said that “equity is more than identity,” and the district needs to be careful not to look at the issue through “an identity lens.” Through his professional work, Valenti, who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from George Washington University and a master’s in psychology in education from Columbia University, said he has worked hard to encourage a “growth mindset” rather than an “oppressed mindset,” meaning if students believe they can succeed, rather than feel that they’re oppressed, they’re more likely to succeed.

Vine said there are three facets to consider when it comes to equity: protecting the safety of every child, faculty and staff member; knowing how to teach equity in a primarily white community; and fiscal responsibility. Vine, who has a bachelor’s degree in math from Loyola Marymount University, said the work is important so students don’t repeat the mistakes of past generations when they become the generation in charge. She declined to share her political affiliation.

Dambrie, a real estate advisor who studied economics at the University of Southern Maine, said the district should continue to work with professionals like Alexander and follow their recommendations on how to implement an equity plan.


Dambrie has coached youth hockey for about 10 years, volunteers at Furniture Friends and hosts an annual charity event for Toys for Tots.

Mitchell, who has a bachelor’s degree in education from Bowdoin College and a master’s in art and teaching from Brown University, said the committee needs to include more residents and students in the implementation of the equity plan. The students “need to really own it, since it’s really for them,” she said. She also said there needs to be better communication so people can understand its importance.

Mitchell is the chairperson of the Cumberland Historical Society’s scholarship committee.


Deckelmann, a Democrat who ran an educational program for underserved youth for 15 years, said that exposure to diversity is important for children to help make them prepared for a modern and ever-changing world.

Barry, an independent who works in human resources for Maine Health, said the district should fill open positions with educators from diverse backgrounds. She added that “the district has an obligation to meet students where they’re at in their educational journey and create a plan that provides opportunities for all.”

The polls in Cumberland and North Yarmouth are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 14. Voting will take place at Wescustogo Hall at 120 Memorial Highway in North Yarmouth; Cumberland voters can visit Town Hall at 290 Tuttle Road.

Editor’s note: Dwight Deckelmann did not supply his photo.

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