Falmouth School Board election attracts range of candidates

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FALMOUTH — Six diverse candidates are running for three open seats on the School Board this year.

They include a Realtor, an incumbent, a vocal critic of town government and parents of past and present Falmouth school students.

The winners will be elected on June 14, for three-year terms. Polls will be open at Falmouth High School from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Jan Andrews

Jan Andrews, 60, is a retired registered nurse and mother of six grown children. She has lived in Falmouth for 12 years, and in Maine for 23.

One of her children was a special needs child, which, she said, gives her a unique perspective into special education.

Andrews is an active member of Falmouth Citizens for Sound Choices and describes herself as a fiscal conservative.

“I’m very careful about how I spend my money,” she said.

Andrews said she supports the School Board’s decision to provide all-day kindergarten next year, although she wishes it could have come in a better budget year.

She described the new elementary school as “gorgeous,” and said she is confident it will meet Falmouth’s future needs. She said it is likely the middle school would need work in the future, but that she would wait to see the details before determining whether a new building or renovation is necessary.

“Sometimes a new building is cheaper,” Andrews said.

Andrews said she is interested in starting a transition council that would help special education students go from school to the working world.

Andrews said she has never declared bankruptcy, or been convicted of a crime.

Michael Doyle

Michael Doyle, 63, is a frequent and vocal critic of the way town and school officials do business, often speaking at Town Council and School Board meetings. He regularly accuses town officials of abusing their power and carelessly spending money.

Doyle lives with his elderly mother, and has three adult children. He said he became motivated to get involved in town business during the school consolidation discussion several years ago.

“When they get to the table, they make incredibly bad decisions,” Doyle said of elected officials. “A great deal of my harsh comments are to get people talking about it.”

Doyle said he would like to review the School Department’s contracts with vendors to see if money could be saved by changing to different vendors or negotiating contracts.

“If we get control of overpaying vendors … if we stop doing that, it will free up a lot of money to put back into the classrooms,” he said.

Doyle said he would like to see teachers contribute to their insurance benefits and that he was “very much against” the tax increase sent to voters. He said he has talked to people who are frustrated about seeing teachers get raises “year after year when (other incomes are) flat.”

Doyle pleaded guilty in 2003 to sale of an unlicensed security, sale of an unregistered security and misrepresentation, and served just under nine months in jail. The state ordered him to pay more than $200,000 in restitution to the victims of what Doyle says he belatedly realized was “a Ponzi scheme,” but, he said, he paid $16,000 in restitution. He declared bankruptcy after he was released from prison in 2004.

“I was sending money to Texas to a bank deposit that was being leveraged out,” Doyle said. “I don’t know all the ins and outs of it. It was a fantasy.”

Doyle said he was “railroaded” into pleading guilty to the charges by his lawyers.

“I got taken to school by these lawyers,” he said. When asked why he had not sued them, Doyle said he could not find a lawyer to take his case.

“I’ve run out of lawyers to talk to. They’re afraid they’ll get thrown out of the Bar,” he said.

He said he pleaded guilty because his lawyers told him he would serve 2 1/2 years in prison if convicted, but less than a year if he pleaded guilty.

“I wasn’t running the scam, I was a victim like everyone else,” he said. “I had to go bankrupt because I couldn’t pay back all the the people that lost money.”

Doyle said, looking back, that he would be suspicious of an investment with such a large rate of return, but that, at the time, he trusted his lawyers.

Doyle also drives a car registered in New Hampshire; he said that is because it is leased in that state. However, Tina Gowell at the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles said cars must be registered in the town where the owner resides.

Karyl Hazard

Karyl Hazard, 38, grew up in Yarmouth, attended Boston College, and then moved back to Falmouth with her husband in 2004. She has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Massachusetts and, until recently, worked for L.L. Bean as a marketing and web content manager.

She lives on Quaker Lane with her husband, 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old twins.

Hazard said she got involved in the schools when she headed the opposition to changing kindergarten from half-days every day to 2 1/2 days a week. She said she is very glad the new kindergarten program will be full days next year.

“I have a past of not always agreeing with the board. I’m not just going with the flow, even though I’m in agreement with them now,” Hazard said.

She said she is glad all the schools will be on one campus next year, because that will increase efficiencies and save maintenance costs.

Hazard said she supports the budget increase for next year. She said she appreciated the early communication from the board about the budget, which gave her the opportunity to participate in the process.

“The shortfalls (from the state) are there and will continue,” she said. “That doesn’t mean our first approach is to slash and burn programs.”

Hazard said it is important to be creative, including possibly charging high school students a fee to park on campus, or other revenue generation options that are not included in the state and federal rules on free public education.

“I care about the quality of education. I’m passionate about that, for my kids and everyone else’s kids in town,” Hazard said.

Hazard said she has never declared bankruptcy, or been convicted of a crime.

Analiese Larson

Analiese Larson, 45, has served three years on the School Board and is the current vice chairwoman. She has been chairwoman of the board’s finance committee for two years. She is on the executive board of the Falmouth Education Foundation and the Falmouth Land Trust.

Larson moved to Falmouth with her husband, Lee, and three sons, in 2000.

Larson said she is proud of the elementary school project coming in 20 percent under budget, something she attributed to the finance team. She said the district would realize savings by having one campus and efficiencies from shared services.

“I’m most proud of our energy efficiencies,” Larson said, highlighting the wood chip boiler at the high school. “We saved 100,000 gallons of oil at the high school last year, which gave us great savings.”

She said she feels great about being able to offer all-day kindergarten next year, now that the new building eliminates the space issues.

Larson said Falmouth is a community that values education, and that the board’s dedication to transparency is one of the most important aspects of the budget process.

“We’ve got to know what people value,” she said. “The budget does represent a tax increase. No one wants to raise taxes, but this isn’t over-the-top spending. This is the third year in row we’ve had declining operations expenses.”

Larson said she has never declared bankruptcy, or been convicted of a crime.

Eydie Pryzant

Eydie Pryzant, 53, has lived in Falmouth for almost 20 years and has been a volunteer in her children’s classrooms. She has been the president of the high school Parent Teacher Association and active on several curriculum task forces. She led the successful fight against school consolidation several years ago and received a Falmouth Education Association “Friends of Education” award in 2009.

Pryzant, who was a school nurse, said she is glad the fifth grade is moving back into the elementary school and is excited that staff will be able to move more easily between grades in the new school building.

“It’s easier to move around and share services,” she said.

Pryzant said she supports the all-day kindergarten program that will start next year.

She said she supported the school budget as it was presented and that, if elected, she would carefully review it next year.

“I’m a very conscientious person,” she said. “I’m a progressive and forward thinker.”

Pryzant has three children, all of whom have gone or are currently attending Falmouth schools.

Pryzant said she has never declared bankruptcy, or been convicted of a crime.

Lucy Tucker

Lucy Tucker, 46, moved to Allen Avenue Extension 11 years ago so her three boys could attend Falmouth schools. She is a classroom parent and has volunteered in her sons’ classrooms. She grew up in Philadelphia and her father was a world languages teacher in the public schools there. 

Tucker, who is a real estate agent, said it is important to make sure students have access to technology to prepare them for the future.

“If we’re not on the technology train, we’re missing a lot there,” she said.

Tucker said she is very supportive of the new elementary school building and that the “powers that be” made the right decisions.

She said she supports all-day kindergarten because she believes the children are ready. She also said that programs like all-day kindergarten contribute to maintaining property values in the town.

Tucker said that, while no one likes tax increases, Falmouth’s mil rate is lower than neighboring towns and has not gone up the four previous years.

“I believe in being fiscally responsible and working collaboratively to figure out what works best,” she said.

Tucker said she has never declared bankruptcy, or been convicted of a crime.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

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