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Two of 3 Brunswick School Board races contested

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Two of 3 Brunswick School Board races contested

BRUNSWICK — Two School Board seats are being sought by opposing candidates on Nov. 6, while a third is an uncontested race for a candidate with past school board experience.

School Board Vice Chairwoman Corinne Perreault is being challenged by Federico Senence in District 4, and Joy Prescott and Dale King are competing for the at-large seat vacated by Michelle Small.

Chis McCarthy is running uncontested in District 3, after incumbent Matt Corey decided to not seek re-election.

District 3 and 4 represent large western portions of Brunswick that border Durham and Freeport.

District 4

Perreault is seeking her fifth term on the board, in part, she said, because there is some unfinished business left to do, including the Master Facilities Plan for Coffin Elementary School and Brunswick Junior High School, and the School Department's strategic planning process.

"I find the whole thing incredibly rewarding," Perreault said. "I'm very passionate about being on the School Board."

Perreault is married to Town Councilor John Perreault, who is also seeking re-election in District 4. They have two children, who attend public schools.

The vice chairwoman said there are various things that qualify her and separate her from her opponent, including her experience on the board.

"I think I have a lot of common sense," Perreault said.

She also said her knowledge of school curricula and standardized testing are major strengths, given her 16 years of work as a public health educator with adult students.

Senence, a father of two, said he's running against Perreault because after living in Brunswick for about 11 years, he no longer wants to stand on the sidelines.

"It was time to step up and make a difference," Senence said.

For more than three years the U.S. Marine Corps veteran has worked as a manager for a security company at the decommissioned Maine Yankee nuclear power plant in Wiscasset. His wife works at the YMCA in Freeport.

Senence said his oldest son has Asperger's syndrome, and having taken him through the school system for eight years has given him a unique outlook on the way education and life work.

"The amount of research I have done, I think that can help push the School Board in a certain direction," Senence said.

With this in mind, he said he wants the school Department to focus on "affordable, outcome-focused education."

And if he were elected, Senence said he would want to make the School Board more transparent to constituents and hold everyone in the School Department more accountable, from teachers to administrators to board members.

He said part of this means treating the school system like a business and creating long-term and short-term plans to monitor progress. Senence said he understands the stigma of creating such an analogy between government and business, but he thinks it could go a long way's in holding people more accountable.

At-large

The husband of the Town Council chairwoman and a planning consultant are going head-to-head to replace Small in the at-large seat.

King is the owner of Brunswick Taxi and sits on the town's Personnel Board, which gives input on the hiring and promotion for police officers and firefighters.

His wife is Joanne King, who is stepping down from her at-large Town Council seat and position as chairwoman. Together they have five children who have attended public schools.

"We've had children in the school system for 30 consecutive years," King said. "... It's given me valuable insight."

He said he has no agenda for the School Board, adding that input from the community for the at-large seat is most important. King said he always does his homework before making an informed decision on any given issue.

Having owned and operated Brunswick Taxi for 22 years, he said he has seen students who have dropped out, and he would want to create a strong network of support to reach them before they leave school.

"I'd like to see the (drop-out rate) lower a little," King said.

He said he would also like to work with state legislators to increase funding for Brunswick's public schools.

"I believe strong schools are the basis for a strong community," King said.

Like Senence, Prescott said she, too, has been standing on the sidelines while watching the School Department face challenges like the unexpected budget cuts this year.

As the wife of a self-employed cabinetmaker and a mother of two young children, she said her perspective as a parent is important.

Prescott said her work for Stantec Consulting, a planning consultant agency in Topsham, qualifies her for analyzing large amounts of information and making it accessible for anyone to understand – something she said will come handy with looking at the school budget.

She said that while the board needs to make careful use of tax dollars, constituents need to understand the importance of investing in infrastructure upgrades.

"Right now it is very clear there are some infrastructure investments that need to be made for the junior. high school," Prescott said. She said Coffin Elementary School is also due for renovations and improvements.

There needs to be more feedback accepted from the community, too, Prescott said, and a more honest exchange of ideas between the board when it begins drafting its strategic plan. She said the plan also needs to include specific actions.

One thing Prescott said separates her from King is her openness and accessibility.

She said that she has reached out to people across various neighborhoods, and she runs Twitter and Facebook accounts, in addition to a comprehensive website that lists her e-mail address and phone number.

"I plan on having that accessibility continue," Prescott said.

District 3

Newcomer Chris McCarthy has served on a school board before, and he said he is seeking office again for the same reason: he feels a duty to serve his community.

"I'd like to try to influence how our public board functions in engaging the community more effectively," he said.

The District 3 candidate works at Bath Iron Works as the director of integrated services. His wife is a teacher, and they have two children who attend public schools.

Before moving to Maine, McCarthy said he spent 15 years as a teacher and administrator at Eckerd Youth Alternatives in Vermont, where he worked with abused and neglected youth.

He said he also studied at Michigan State University for a master's in community psychology, focusing on subjects like juvenile justice and alternative schools.

Taking away what he learned from his work and education, McCarthy said he uses  experiential-focused and reflective-based education to frame issues.

McCarthy said his support for different education policies boils down to one question: "How does this help the kids?"