Scarborough won’t hold special election to fill School Board

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SCARBOROUGH — The four remaining members of the School Board on Tuesday decided not to hold a special election to replace three recalled members.

The motion to hold a special election was defeated 3-1, with Leanne Kazilionis in the minority. Because four is the quorum for the board, the motion required unanimous passage.

Kazilionis argued an election in mid-August would allow time for voters to vet candidates and would take pressure off the remaining board members.

“My son doesn’t remember who I am. I want to spend time with my family and friends,” she said, citing the fact that four members would be saddled with the work of seven until a November election.

Elections will be held Nov. 12, when four board seats will be on the ballot – three to replace the ousted members, and one to replace Jackie Perry, who said she will not seek re-election.

Several residents at the meeting spoke in support of holding the election in November, urging a summer hiatus from divisive debate in the community.

Because it took three votes for the budget to pass last year, resident Kristen Allen said she expects the proposed $50 million spending plan proposed for fiscal year 2019 to require more than one referendum to be approved. Allen also said a special election would be a waste of town resources.

According to Town Clerk Tody Justice, a special election could cost the town up to $5,000.

The results of last year’s budget votes were not unprecedented; in 2015, voters rejected the school budget twice.  It took two attempts in 2012, and three referendums in 2013.

Allen also said the community needs time to learn about candidates and regain some objectivity in the issues that engulfed the School Department during the past several months.

Besides deferring to a November election, the board members Tuesday elected Mary Starr chairwoman and Kazilionis vice chairwoman.

Starr asked the community be patient with the new makeup of the board, and said the community needs to focus on how to reconnect after the debates that have splintered the town. She said the board, even with only four members, will put students first and, along with district leadership and teachers, prioritize education.

She added she would be remiss if she didn’t say she missed recalled board members Donna Beeley, Jodi Shea and Cari Lyford.

Beeley, Shea and Lyford were ousted in a decisive vote May 8. Beeley was recalled by a vote of 3,086 to 1,496. Lyford was removed from office by a 3,047 to 1,535 vote, and the vote against Shea was 3,040 to 1,550.

The recall campaign was launched after concerns mounted over the resignation by Scarborough High School Principal David Creech, along with a controversy over school start times, the implementation of proficiency-based education, and the School Board’s support for Superintendent Julie Kukenberger.

The board refused to reconsider Creech’s resignation after he attempted to rescind it, with his attorney, William Michaud, contending it was a forced resignation prompted by Kukenberger.

Kukenberger said the district has advertised Creech’s position and has started to schedule interviews. His contract ends this month.

Juliette Laaka cnabe reached at 781-3661 or at jlaaka@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JulietteLaaka. 

Mary Starr was elected chairwoman of the Scarborough School Board May 29. The board also decided not to fill three empty seats until November.

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