Editor’s Note: This article is being published this week, in spite of The Forecaster’s traditional policy of not running election stories during the week prior to the election, for fairness. Write-in-candidates Analiese Larson and Emily H. Martin were quoted in a June 3 article announcing their candidacy, but the three candidates on the ballot, previously unopposed, were not given equal time to comment about their own views. The Forecaster does not cover unopposed races.

Falmouth residents will elect three school board members next week from among three candidates on the ballot and two others who launched a write-in campaign late last month for three seats on the Falmouth School Board.

The candidates are incumbents Jennifer Libby and Matthew Pines, newcomer Alicia Johnson and write-in candidates Analiese Larson and Emily H. Martin. Johnson, Libby and Pines in interviews Tuesday with The Forecaster, discussed the importance of improved communication between the board and its constituents, especially in the wake of the pandemic and recent contentious teacher contract negotiations.


Alicia Johnson

Johnson said one of her biggest priorities is rebuilding trust and communication between parents, teachers and board members following the contract negotiations.

Johnson, who moved to Falmouth with her husband and two children from Oakland, California, last year, has experience working with public schools. In Oakland, she co-founded a group that worked to prioritize funding for public schools over charter schools and she was an advocate for teachers when they went on strike.


“I ran a strike school so that parents could bring their students to my house and they didn’t have to miss work in order to not cross the picket line in support of the teachers,” Johnson told The Forecaster.

She said she has the ability to work through difficult school board situations without fostering parent and teacher anxiety.

Johnson also believes she will bring a diverse point of view to the school board if elected.

“We are fairly new to the community, so it’s a little bit of an outsider’s perspective,” she said. “I have a diverse family, and I think that’s important.”

Another issue that Johnson feels passionate about, she said, is transparency between teachers and parents. If elected, she hopes to work on how the schools can manage the need for information, transparency and honesty within the school system.

“Falmouth has excellent schools,” Johnson said. “Parents just want to be sure that their children are receiving the best education.”


Jen Libby 


Libby, a lifelong Falmouth resident, middle school teacher in Scarborough and the mother of three, said her decision to run for another term on the school board is anchored in pride for the Falmouth community.

She wants to focus on communication between teachers, parents, the board and the community. Coming out of the pandemic, Libby said, communication needs to be rebuilt and the board needs to elevate teacher, student and family voices.

“We need to get back to looking each other in the eye, having conversations, and actively listening to each other,” she said. “That is going to come through relationship building, trust and authentic communication.”

As an experienced school board member and educator, Libby emphasized that she is well skilled at meeting challenges head on, and is not afraid of having robust or difficult conversations with other people.

“People want to say how they’re feeling, and they don’t feel that there is a mechanism for that,” Libby said. “We need to communicate in a way that encourages trust and compassion.”


During her time on the Falmouth School Board, Libby said one of the most important lessons she has learned is listening.

“At the end of the meeting, I have developed a practice of finding who I think might be among the most frustrated, or fearful, or upset people or persons in the room, and I go straight to them,” Libby said. “I want to hear more about their position and how they’re feeling, and what they need.”


Matthew Pines 

Pines told The Forecaster that one of the biggest issues facing the Falmouth School Board is trying to create a budget that works for everyone in times of rapidly escalating costs and inflation.

The Falmouth budget is one of the best in the state, Pines said, and the district has some of the best teachers in the state.

“Taxpayers are feeling a crunch in a time of inflation,” he said. “Trying to balance those things is really tough.”


Post pandemic, it will be increasingly important to maintain an open line of communication between the school board, teachers, parents and community members, Pines said. COVID changed so much in schools for students, teachers and parents, and parents now have a different appreciation and insight to their kids’ education, he said.

While it is “difficult” to communicate the complexities of something like a school budget and a teacher contract, Pines said, having more involvement and engagement is imperative.

“I think the Falmouth School Board has done a good job at having more workshops and community forums,” Pines said. “Those things are helpful, but you need to keep having them over and over again and get the whole community involved.”

Pines and his wife and son have lived in Falmouth for 10 years. He also owns and runs the Maine Teen Camp, a summer camp for teenagers.

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