5 candidates seek 1-year terms on Scarborough School Board

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SCARBOROUGH — Five candidates are vying for two, one-year seats on the Board of Education that were left vacant by a recall vote earlier this year.

In a separate election, 10 other candidates are seeking election to three, three-year terms on the board. (Profiles of those candidates will be published in October.)

Former board members Cari Lyford and Jodi Shea were recalled in May, following a campaign to oust them by a group called Road to Renewal. The group was unhappy with the direction of the board and claimed it demonstrated a lack of leadership and transparency.

Candidates Amy Glidden and Emily Read are seeking Lyford’s seat, and Benjamin Howard, Stacey Neumann and Alicia Giftos are running for the remainder of Shea’s term.

Giftos and Glidden are supported by Road to Renewal, of which Giftos was a founding member.

Alicia Giftos

Giftos said she was heavily involved in the recall process and felt a responsibility to step up and make herself available to serve on the School Board.

She said there was a culture of pushing through policy at all costs, and she wants to allow more discussion and input with teachers, staff and the community before implementing policy.

“I am pro-school and supportive of teachers, but I am also mindful of the community impact and concern about the budget,” Giftos said.

She said her goal is to garner input and mend relationships as the community faces future budgets and policy discussions.

Amy Glidden

Glidden was on the leadership team of Road to Renewal and said she was very supportive of the recall, which prompted her to run for the board to restore public trust in the panel.

Glidden said she wants to be part of the solution and has the ability to listen, communicate and collaborate.

She said her children had a wonderful experience in Scarborough schools,  where the teachers, staff, and administration are the heart and soul of the district, and she wants to give back.

Glidden said she also wants teachers to be more involved in making policy decisions and wants to ensure they have a voice in the process. She would like to form an ad hoc committee to determine how best to incorporate staff and constituent ideas.

Benjamin Howard

Howard said he is campaigning for the one-year position because his research for the 2018-2019 budget showed that raises for teachers were different percentages, depending on the year their contracts were renegotiated.

He said teacher salaries consume a large part of the school budget and he believes the process and structure can be simplified to allow the town to better predict how increases in personnel can affect spending.

He said he would like to renegotiate contracts so that set raises are given based on experience, adding he has an analytical slant that would serve the board well.

Howard declined to say whether he supported the recall effort, but said his candidacy was not sparked by the process.

Stacey Neumann

Neumann said her main goal is to have a robust, well-funded education system, in part by increasing foreign language instruction and tapping into expertise from residents to add to the schools’ culture.

With politics dominating the process, Neumann said she is seeking to redirect the focus back on the greater good of the students and their education.

She said she has no set agenda, and did not support the recall, but does have ideas she would like to explore. She said she would come to the table with an open mind and work to be inclusive.

With a background in employment law, Neumann said she is well versed in contracts and employment policy as well as special education law, which would prove to be a helpful perspective for the board.

Emily Read

Read said she is seeking the position because she was discouraged by the tone of conversations about the school system, which she described as loud, personal and emotional. She said she is running to refocus on the mission of the School Board to provide the best education and literacy for students.

Read said the responsibility of a board is to further the mission of the school system and said though people can be passionate about issues, that goal should remain a priority.

When asked if she supported the recall, Read said she had some disagreement with the board last year, but ultimately did not feel its members were incompetent.

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or at jlaaka@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JulietteLaaka.

Age: 46

Residence: Saratoga Lane

Family: Married, three children

Occupation: Assistant Attorney General

Education: Law degree from University of Maine School of Law

Political/civic experience: Attorney General’s charge for the Maine Children’s Growth Council

Website/social media: https://www.facebook.com/AliciaGiftosforBoE/

Age: 52

Residence: Ash Swamp Road

Family: Married, two children

Occupation: Teacher

Education: Bachelor’s degree in communications, Master’s degree in special education and an advance certificate of study in curriculum and instruction.

Political/civic experience: Volunteered on high school football and baseball sports boosters.

Website/social media: https://www.facebook.com/amygliddenforboe/

Age: 25

Residence: Oakdale Drive

Family: Single

Occupation: Controls engineer

Education: Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from University of New Hampshire

Political/civic experience: Ran unsuccessfully for Town Council in 2017.

Website/social media: https://www.facebook.com/Benjamin.Howard.Gov/

Age: 44

Residence: Windward Lane

Family: Married, three children

Occupation: Director of Development and Communication at the Children’s Dyslexia Center.

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Colby College

Political/civic experience: Two terms as public library trustee

Website/social media: https://www.facebook.com/ReadforBoE/

Age: 40

Residence: Windsor Pines Drive

Family: Married, three children

Occupation: Partner at firm Murray Plumb and Murray

Education: Bachelor’s degree from James Madison University, law degree from Cornell University Law School

Political/civic experience: Member of the Maine Association of Criminal defense lawyers, on Board of Visitors for Long Creek Correctional Facility.

Website/social media: https://www.facebook.com/Stacey-for-Scarborough-BOE-688970298168343/

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