Five candidates are running to fill four Topsham seats on a Maine School Administrative District 75 board that has been beleaguered by leadership turnover in recent years, both in the superintendent’s office and on the board itself.

Current board members Mike Timberlake, Mary Hobson and Kim Pacelli are running to retain their seats. Newcomers River Khoriaty and Annalyse Sarvinas are seeking to join the board for three-year terms.

The board has a lot of work ahead, Timberlake said, including “hiring a permanent superintendent, advancing a district vision and goals, developing a responsible budget, protecting the rights and safety of students and employees, and supporting a nurturing environment where all students can thrive academically and socially.”

Timberlake, 51, is a 1990 graduate of Mt. Ararat High School whose parents and grandmother worked as educators in the district. He has had three sons go through school in the district. He works as a technology sales representative for Ricoh USA.

“Long-term stability will be best achieved by reelecting experienced board members who will function as a team,” said school board candidate Mike Timberlake. Courtesy photo

“Long-term stability will be best achieved by reelecting experienced board members who will function as a team,” Timberlake said. “The way I will support this is by understanding the limitations and responsibilities of my role, respecting the viewpoints of others, and staying engaged through regular attendance and homework.”


Timberlake and Kim Pacelli, both current board members running for reelection, named recent turnover on the board and with the district superintendent as the most pressing issues to address. The district has had six executive leadership transitions in five years. Most recently, Superintendent Steven Conolly resigned after only a year of serving on the board, citing the challenge of managing “the implicit divisions that exist [within the district] based on political, personal and ideological beliefs” as his reason for leaving. Heidi O’Leary, director of the district’s special education programs for the past six years, stepped up as interim superintendent in June.

Kim Pacelli works as a risk management consultant for school districts and colleges.

“MSAD 75 is a great district, but stability in our leadership is pivotal to ensure its long-term success,” Pacelli said. “Since joining the board, I have focused on contributing my expertise and energy as a steady and thoughtful voice, and to listen to all perspectives.”

“Stability in our leadership is pivotal to ensure its long-term success,” said candidate Kim Pacelli. Courtesy photo

Pacelli, 46, is married with one child in elementary school at Woodside. She formerly worked at Bowdoin College as the senior associate dean of student affairs and director of residential life.

Hobson, another current board member running for reelection, has been deeply entrenched in the SAD 75 community for years as well. A retired teacher, she’s also the mother of four Mt. Ararat grads.

“I can provide institutional knowledge to the different issues that come before the board,” Hobson said. She named hiring and retaining qualified staff and a permanent superintendent and addressing the behavioral and metal health of students as two of her foremost concerns.


“My top priority is to participate as a board member as fully and completely as I can,” Hobson said. “I feel that it is imperative that we have a board that is respectful of each other and can engage in productive dialogue in a way that maintains a respectful tone even while sometimes voicing dissent.”

Khoriaty, who works as a high school math and science teacher at Next STEP, a small public charter school in Lewiston, said they see the lack of institutional support for the most vulnerable populations of youth as one of the primary concerns facing the district.

“We need to proactively talk to these specific students and families directly to determine what support they need, and then work expediently to create policies to address those needs,” Khoriaty said and mentioned transgender children, children of color, homeless youth and youth in the foster care system.

Khoriaty touched on the current policy dispute over the clause that addresses transgender students who are out at school but whose parents may not yet know of their gender identity.

“Because teachers are on the front lines of this issue, we need to ensure that every teacher is empowered to engage with students on a personal level, so students have support from whichever adult they feel most comfortable with,” they said.

Annalyse Sarvinas works as a middle school English teacher at St. Dominic Academy in Auburn.

“I have no experience in politics,” Sarvinas said, “which I believe the district will appreciate.”

Security, academics and parental involvement, Savinas said, are all “fundamental pillars” for the success of the district and its students.

She believes the school district needs “to find a common identity as a board, produce a vision for our district, then create actionable goals that will empower our district leadership to find positive and enforceable procedures to end all disrespect and bullying for all students.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.