Write-in candidate could win Falmouth School Board seat

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FALMOUTH — There are three seats open on the School Board, but only two candidates.

That means one of the seats will have to be filled through write-in votes, according to Town Clerk Ellen Planer.

Voters on June 13 will also have the final say on a proposed fiscal year 2018 school budget of $35.8 million.

Planer said write-in candidates will not have to officially declare prior to the election.

Voters may choose someone for the vacant seat by “filling in the oval to the left of the write-in space and writing in the person’s name,” she said. No stickers with a candidate’s name can be affixed to the ballot.

The election will be held 7 a.m.-8 p.m. in the gym at Falmouth High School. See the town website, at falmouthme.org, or call the clerk’s office at 781-5253 for more information.

In addition, the clerk’s office will be open until 8 p.m. Thursday, June 8, for absentee balloting.

The school spending package doesn’t include any new programs or positions and takes into account a more than $933,000 loss in state aid to education, which was proposed as part of Gov. Paul LePage’s state budget.

However, there’s still hope among school officials that the Legislature may end up restoring Falmouth’s education funding. If that happens any additional amount would be used for local property tax relief.

In advocating for passage of the school budget, Superintendent Geoff Bruno said this week that, “We continue to do our best to operate as efficiently and effectively to provide the best educational experience possible for all students.”

“This year, our budget represents the cost of maintaining our existing programs and personnel,” he said, adding that “residents should know we are working hard to continue providing a world-class education in the most fiscally responsible way possible.”

In the School Board election, incumbent Danielle Tracy, 49, is seeking re-election. First-time candidate Julie Fraser, 39, is the other declared candidate.

Tracy is a trained engineer and community volunteer. She is the vice chairwoman of the School Board and for the past two years has served as head of the board’s finance committee.

“I am running for re-election to continue my active support of our schools,” she said. “We have outstanding teachers and … leadership team working together to keep Falmouth at the highest levels of academic achievement in the state.”

During the next three years, Tracy said, “I would like to continue to work on improving our one campus efficiencies, supporting our farm to classroom programs and building collaborative opportunities between students in all schools.”

Going forward she would like the School Board to “continue to support and work collaboratively with the superintendent and the leadership team. I would (also) like the board to continue to push for financial support of our schools’ academic, athletic and cultural programs.”

Tracy said, “I would expect our new School Board to be involved citizens. We have the best schools in the state (and) we will work hard to keep it that way.”

Fraser is a certified school psychologist taking a break from work while raising her children.

“I decided to run for a seat on the School Board in order to serve the children, families and taxpayers of our community,” she said. “My husband and I moved to Falmouth a little over six years ago in large part because of the strong school system.”

Fraser has volunteered regularly in her children’s classrooms and has “been impressed with the high quality of teaching” while also observing “numerous strengths in curriculum, technology and support of the leadership team.”

“I am excited to learn more district-wide issues and initiatives while working to promote the continued growth and success of our schools. I am invested for the long-term,” she added.

In the face of continuing state and federal funding reductions, Fraser said it would be important for the School Board to “continue to hone our budget to promote the most efficient operation of our school department.”

While creating the budget is a key component of the School Board’s work, Fraser is also interested in policy development when overseeing the school district.

“I am excited about the prospect of contributing to the work of the board in setting and refining educational policy (and) would like to see the board continue to promote improvements across our schools as we work to provide the highest possible quality education.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Incumbent Falmouth School Board member Danielle Tracy, left, and first-time candidate Julie Fraser.