Four candidates are running for two three-year seats on the Falmouth School Board this year. Voters will choose from Bridget Cronan,  Robert Kline, Tiffany Skillings and Leslie Zamer on June 11.

There are no incumbents running. Whitney Bruce and Nicole Bezanson are leaving the board after maxing out their term limits.

During a candidate forum last week that was co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Portland Area, the candidates spoke about what they hope to achieve if elected, their approach to the budget, opinions on the work of the district’s Intercultural Awareness and Inclusion Committee, and the appropriate role of cell phones in school settings.



Bridget Cronan has spent much of her professional life working in early childhood education, including as a teacher at a child development center in South Freeport. She has one child enrolled in Falmouth Public Schools and another who is not yet school age. She is a graduate of Falmouth High School.

At the May 22 forum, Cronan emphasized her background as an educator and her commitment to investing in good educators.  


“I’m a product of quality education. Quality education doesn’t happen without our teachers, our teachers and staff need to feel supported,” she said during her opening statement.

When answering a question about how she would approach contentious issues on the board, she said that she would try to be humble and open-minded, while still “adher(ing) to a process.” She said that process includes clear identification of the problem and gathering stakeholder input – but also soliciting expert advice if that’s needed.

Cronan and the other candidates were asked about the successes to date of the district’s Intercultural Awareness and Inclusion Committee in advancing equity and inclusion and what the focus of that committee should be moving forward.

A few years ago, the committee and district leadership pushed for an equity audit, the results of which were published in a report in January 2022. The audit revealed some concerning things, Cronan said, including the finding that “(e)ducational experiences, opportunities and expectations for students are not consistent among teachers and classrooms.” Cronan said that teachers should collaborate to better align their course content.

When it comes to budgeting and mitigating pressure on taxpayers, Cronan said she would like to see the budget process start earlier and said she would support the creation of a joint Town Council-School Board finance committee that looks at the budget.

In general, though, she’s not running in order to push for big changes to the budget.


“I would hate to see any drastic measures be taken with our budget that would compromise our ability to give quality education to our students.”

The candidates were also asked what they believe is an appropriate cell phone use policy for Falmouth schoolsa topic of public conversation in recent weeks.

At a recent board meeting, members of the group Falmouth Parents for Thoughtful Technology advocated for a more restrictive policy around cell phone usage in schools. The group is pushing for a district-wide ban on cell phones in schools and urging parents to sign a pledge that would see them hold off furnishing smart phones for their kids until after eighth grade. A similar initiative is taking place in Scarborough.

Cronan said that moving towards a more restrictive policy would necessitate a “collective, community shift” in Falmouth’s culture towards personal tech use in schools.

“COVID made them sort of essential pieces to our process,” she said. “Now we need to start to look at ‘where can we take them out of our day?’




Robert “Bob” Kline has a professional background in employer-side labor law and school and construction law. In 2023, he earned a certificate in construction technology from Southern Maine Community College. He is the parent of a former Falmouth student.

In an emailed statement to the Northern Forecaster, Kline identified three primary challenges facing Falmouth schools: declining school enrolment, employer demand for trade workers (as opposed to “knowledge workers”), and “pushback against climbing local property tax burden.”

Data from the school department shows that enrolment has declined from 2,127 in fiscal year 2019 to a projected 1,956 for fiscal year 2025.

During the candidate forum, he said he would like the School Board to take a more active leadership role, as opposed to a more “advisory role.”

When answering a question about how he would approach contentious issues on the board, Kline said he’s guided by three principles: “know who you’re working for,” transparently and honestly communicate, and “to talk.” 

As part of his answer, he brought up the Falmouth Education Association – the union representing educators, librarians, nurses and school counselorswhich he says “breached … the construct of good faith” during contract negotiations last year. He said he disagreed with how the school administration had responded to the incident.


In terms of educational priorities he wants the board to pursue, he said he would like to see more opportunities for hands-on learning and technical-focused education.

When it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, Kline said that he endorses DEI initiatives in businesses and schools, but that he has “questioned at times the cost of DEI and the effectiveness of DEI.” He said he has queried school leadership about how they are measuring the effectiveness of DEI efforts, he said found the superintendent’s answer to be “not responsive.”

He was also dissatisfied with leadership’s response when he has asked why the district is spending more per pupil compared to Cumberland-North Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth.  

Kline indicated he would be supportive of a cell phone ban for Falmouth schools.



Tiffany Skillings is the clinical director of a midwifery program, where she is focused on policy development. She has one child in Falmouth schools.


Increasing public attendance at School Board meetings, uplifting student voices and supporting educators through professional development are among her broad goals she listed at the forum.

Her background in healthcare has equipped her with the ability to think with a clear head and take a “calm approach,” she said. She said she practices humility and is committed to always considering how a process or outcome could be improved.

“I know that I was very interested in being able to read the entire equity audit report,” said Skillings. “I can’t say that I was fully surprised at the findings … but I was so appreciative that those issues came to light.”

She highlighted that the data collected by the auditor showed no children of color other than Asian students receiving gifted instruction.

She also said she thought the study fell short in some respects.

“I have had feedback from teachers, from other administrators (who said), ‘well, this is an area where there is no problem. The equity audit report didn’t reveal a problem.’” The real problem, she said, is that “the data just wasn’t broken down in a meaningful way for us to say that this group is experiencing this as compared to another group.”


She also thinks the budget process should begin earlier, but echoed others in saying it makes sense that the largest portion of the budget goes towards investing in and supporting educators and school staff.

When it comes to cell phone use in schools, Skilling said she is sympathetic to parents who say they want to make sure they can contact their children in the event of an emergency. But, she is keen to incorporate the insights of researchers who have found that tech has a “deleterious” effect on children.

“This is one area where I do think that community voices are really important, student voices are important, but I’d also really like to read into what the research is telling us.”



Leslie Zamer has a professional background in accounting and has two children in Falmouth schools.

She’d spend her first year on the School Board listening and learning, she said. She emphasized her commitment to respectful communication. “Good people can disagree” but can still forge compromise through collaboration, she added.


Zamer said she has been impressed with the district’s ability to instill “compassion” in her children and their peers and with the emphasis on teaching students that they are “bigger than themselves.” “That comes from the teachers,” she said.

She said she was “shocked” by the 2022 equity report, which, among the other findings above, documented that hate speech and microaggressions are “highly prevalent” in Falmouth Schools. She applauded the district for initiating the audit and for taking steps to make school environments safer and more inclusive.

She is in agreement with other candidates that a large portion of the school budget should be devoted towards teachers and staff and retaining the best talent. She also spoke about identifying wants versus needs, and said cuts and refinement to the budget should be done with a “scalpel,” as opposed to a “sledgehammer.”

On cell phone use in school, Zamer said she thinks people have “legitimate” reasons to disagree on this issue, and that “a ban doesn’t equal compliance.”

“We all know this. They banned tobacco, they banned drugs. I’m sure some of that is happening in the school,” she said.

The board will need to work with teachers and administrators to find a solution that’s actually enforceable, she said.

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