School Board election in Cape Elizabeth: 3 candidates, 2 seats
CAPE ELIZABETH — One incumbent and two newcomers are competing for two School Board seats in the Nov. 5 election.
Michael Moore, who is seeking a second term on the board, is challenged by William Gross and Susana Measelle Hubbs.
Mary Townsend, who has served on the board for five years, including a stint as chairwoman, chose not to seek re-election.
Moore, 42, of Manor Way, is an Atlanta native who studied accounting at the University of Georgia. He worked in New York City and London for 10 years as an investment manager.
Today he is a vice president at Bigelow Investment Advisors in Portland. He has lived in Cape Elizabeth for nearly a decade and has three young children.
Moore said one of his goals for a second term would be to ensure that Common Core standards and other state mandates are integrated smoothly into the curriculum.
“It’s going to require some work to communicate the new standards to students and families, and to make sure the instructional packages are in place so we’re providing the skill sets they need,” he said.
Moore said he also wants to finalize a new strategic plan to supplement last year’s mission and vision statement.
“It’s been 15 years or so since we’ve looked at the strategic plan,” Moore said. “It’s critical. It lets all the stakeholders – parents, teachers, taxpayers – know where the district is heading and how it’s going to get there.”
In looking back at the past three years, Moore said he was proud of the job he has done identifying personnel, including his work on the committee that hired Superintendent Meredith Nadeau. He said he also helped make the school system more transparent through the creation of a three-year budget forecast.
“My accounting background and financial skills complement the other School Board members,” Moore said. “I’m very approachable and focused and I think I can make a positive impact on the schools.”
Gross, 68, of Sea View Avenue, is seeking his first elected office.
A product of the Portland school system, Gross studied engineering science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and worked as a telecommunications engineer in Istanbul, Turkey, and Lagos, Nigeria. He later worked in sales and marketing and then worked as a transfer agent for Seligman Data Corp. Gross served as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps from 1968 to 1971 and did a stint in Vietnam.
Today he is retired. For the past four years, he has volunteered as a physics tutor at Cape Elizabeth High School. He has lived in Cape Elizabeth since 1980.
Gross is running on a three-point plan.
Beginning in 2016, he said, the School Department will receive an annual $700,000 budget savings as one of its bonds is paid off. The board's current plan calls for a 10-year capital improvement plan utilizing those savings as well as a new school bond.
Gross first proposes forgoing a new bond and putting the savings toward the schools' normal operating budget in order to reduce dependence on state revenue sharing. The board could then use its state aid, which varies from year to year, on capital improvements, Gross said.
Second, Gross would like the School Board explore a less-traditional curriculum in which students progress at their own pace.
Finally, he would like the board to approach the teachers' union with a wage system in which the size of annual salary increases is determined by performance, rather than seniority and credentials.
"It bothers me a bit that our existing contract does not identify the best teachers and pay them more," Gross said.
Gross said he believes his willingness to try new approaches makes him the best candidate.
"I think I'm perhaps more curious than the other candidates, at least from what they've said in their public statements," Gross said. "They don't seem as curious about trying out new things. We do have one of the top school systems in the state, but I think it could be even better than it is now."
Susana Measelle Hubbs
Hubbs, 46, of Belfield Road, is also seeking election for the first time.
Hubbs was born in Madrid, Spain, and lived there until age 5, when she moved to a suburb of Detroit. She studied fine arts at George Washington University and received a master's in art therapy from New York University.
Hubbs is a volunteer art teacher at the Appletree preschool and a member of the Cape Elizabeth Democratic Committee. A practicing artist, she has lived in Cape Elizabeth for eight years and has three school-aged children.
Hubbs said she would use a seat on the School Board to try and narrow the achievement gap and advocate for struggling students who come from low-income families and single-parent homes. She would also like to establish a gifted and talented program for those students at the top of their classes.
Hubbs expressed support for Moore's candidacy, but was wary of Gross' ability to work as part of the broader School Board "team."
"I am a big fan of Michael Moore's, and I fully expect him to be re-elected. I hope so," Hubbs said. "And then Bill Gross, I've met him a couple times just recently on the campaign trail, and I find him to be a very nice man, although I'm concerned that his vision is very narrow and limited to a very strict agenda. My concern is that he wouldn't work in synchronicity with the current board and administration."
Hubbs said her ability to connect with people in the community and broker compromise would make her an asset to the board.
"I believe I have the ability to not only support the direction that the School Board and the administration is heading, that they've worked really hard to define, but I also feel I add a new round of energy and perspective that would include more community support," she said.
The polls will be open Nov. 5 from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. at Cape Elizabeth High School, 345 Ocean House Road. Absentee ballots are available at Town Hall, 320 Ocean House Road, until 4 p.m. on Oct. 31.