SOUTH PORTLAND — Two candidates are competing to fill a District 4 seat on the School Board.
Matt Perkins, of Elderberry Drive, is running against Libby Reynolds, of Thirlmere Avenue, for the three-year term. The seat has been vacant since James Gilboy resigned this summer.
Chairman Richard Matthews’ three-year term in District 3 is also expiring, along with Tappan Fitzgerald’s term in District 5. Both are uncontested in their bids for re-election.
Absentee ballots are available at City Hall and may be requested until 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29. Ballots must be returned by 8 p.m on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Perkins, 37, is the traffic director for the Portland-based Strategic Media advertising. He has lived in South Portland for 13 years with his wife, Monica. They have three children, two of whom attend Dyer Elementary School. The youngest will start kindergarten at Dyer next year.
Perkins has never held public office, but said he’s been mulling the possibility for a while. He is a school volunteer and also coaches his sons’ Little League baseball team.
Now that he has children who will all be in the school system next year, it’s “just good timing,” Perkins said Monday.
As a School Board member, Perkins said he would want to bring more social issues like bullying to the forefront.
He wants to continue raising awareness about all forms of bullying, including cyberbullying, and work to “provide assistance to any student who might need it,” he said.
“Sort of tied with that issue, I would like to make sure administrators and teachers aren’t afraid to talk about teen suicide,” Perkins said. “It’s one of those things I don’t feel is openly addressed.”
Perkins said he is also a “big fan” of “improving fitness for kids,” which includes making sure they have “healthy options” for school food.
Perkins said he can provide a new voice, “a young parent perspective,” a role he said is not currently represented on the board
“I know a lot of parents from volunteering and from coaching my sons’ Little League teams,” Perkins said. “I love talking to people and really listening to them.”
Reynolds, 40, is the assistant vice president and branch manager of the Key Bank branch in Mill Creek, and vice president of the Skillin Elementary School PTA and the South Portland-Cape Elizabeth Community Chamber of Commerce.
Born in Presque Isle, she moved to South Portland 10 years ago with her husband. They have two children, ages 4 and 6.
She has never held public office, and said she became interested in running for the School Board last year, after her oldest son started kindergarten at Skillin Elementary.
“I’m not going into it with some agenda, I just really want to be involved in my kids’ and everyone’s kids’ education,” Reynolds said last week.
Reynolds said she wants the city to adopt a pre-kindergarten program.
“I would like to see an expanded pre-kindergarten program in South Portland just to bridge that gap for 4-year-olds to get ready,” she said.
Because there is no district-wide pre-K program, 4-year-olds entering one of the district’s five elementary schools “have different levels of readiness,” Reynolds said.
“It would be good to have a school district-provided program that (aligns) with the same curriculum as the kindergarten.”
Residents can vote for candidates in all districts, not just candidates in their home districts.