FREEPORT — Four candidates are seeking three seats on the Regional School Unit 5 Board of Directors on Nov. 3.
Two, three-year terms and one, one-year term are on the ballot.
John Morang is seeking re-election to the board, along with Nelson Larkins, who lost a re-election bid last November, but was appointed to the board by the Town Council in December after Peter Murray resigned. Jeremy Clough is also running for one of the three-year seats.
Louise Brogan is the only candidate for the one-year seat.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. on Election Day at Freeport High School. Absentee ballots are available at Town Hall; the deadline to request one is Oct. 29 at 6 p.m.
Larkins, the chairman of the RSU 5 Board, has been on the board since the RSU was formed in 2009. He was appointed one month after he lost the election a year ago.
Larkins said he’s running again because, one year after Freeport’s failed attempt to withdraw from the RSU, he wants to continue moving the schools forward.
“I love the idea of having my next term be one in which we are focusing solely on the students and pushing for positive initiatives,” he said.
Despite a withdrawal petition in Durham recently being submitted to the town’s Board of Selectmen, Larkins said the RSU 5 board will continue working with Durham and Pownal to strengthen the district.
“Everything is being structured as ‘us,’ meaning RSU 5 as one school community,” he said. “I don’t think this perspective changes at all if some people in Durham decide to look at withdrawal.”
If re-elected, Larkins said he’s looking forward to developing a strategic plan for the district.
“The board has thought a lot about how to make the schools better and has put many plans in place to do so, and now the task is to measure if it is all working and what adjustments might be needed,” he said.
Morang, who has lived in Freeport since 2000, has been on the board since it started. Before that he was on the Freeport School Committee for two terms. Morang is a retired teacher and worked in education for 36 years.
If re-elected, Morang said he wants the board to continue working on implementing proficiency-based education.
“That’ll be interesting as it unfolds,” he said. “I think it’s a very good idea that we’re raising the bar for everyone as long as we continue to meet the needs of students.”
Morang said he’d also like to continue working on moving past the failed withdrawal attempt and focus on renovating the high school. Regarding the withdrawal petition in Durham, Morang said he knows that the RSU’s budget is often a problem for the town.
Morang said this year the board started holding meetings in all three RSU towns so more residents can take part in the budget process.
“I think we’re making headway,” he said. “We’re very mindful of the fact that sometimes it’s a reach.”
Morang, chairman of the board’s finance committee, added that spending money on the schools in the Regional School Unit is very important, however.
“I tend to be fiscally conservative I guess, but I want to make sure we have every opportunity we can give (students),” he said. “We have some of the best education in the state and that’s where our money goes.”
Clough, an information security officer at Gorham Savings Bank, has lived in Freeport for five years. He has never held public office.
Clough said he wants to be on the RSU 5 board because he wants to be part of the work it’s doing.
“I like the direction the board is headed in and I want to help foster and move things forward,” he said, adding that he thinks the district has done a great job at moving past the failed withdrawal attempt.
“I think this past year was a great example of how people for and against withdrawal can work together,” said Clough.
If elected, Clough said he wants to get more Freeport, Durham and Pownal kids attending schools in RSU 5. He said too many attend other schools in the area.
“There are a lot of kids who live in the RSU 5 district who don’t go to an RSU 5 school and we need them,” he said.
Clough said he also wants the RSU 5 schools to focus more on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.
“I think STEM education is a great way to keep graduates in Maine and keep jobs in Maine,” he said.
Clough said he also wants to “make sure policies implemented are geared towards actual learning, not just doing well on test scores.”
Brogan, a scientific writing specialist at Bates College, has lived in Freeport since 2005 and has three kids in the district. She is running uncontested and this will be her first time in public office.
“With three kids in the school system, I felt it was timely,” she said. “It was a good time to get involved.”
Brogan said there’s no specific issue she’s running on.
“My goal is to get a good sense of how things work and to offer support to the learning community,” she said.