2012-11-02 / Front Page

Election 2012

Cape will elect three to school board

Three of the seven members on Cape Elizabeth’s Board of Education face expiring terms in 2012, and all three incumbents have decided to run for re-election. John C. Christie III, David Hillman and Kate Williams-Hewitt all seek an additional three years on the board. They face two challenges for their seats from Michael Goulding and Bill Gross. Cape Elizabeth voters may choose any three of the five candidates. Their answers to a candidate survey appear below in alphabetical order.

John C Christie III

Age: 46

Occupation: Owner and COO, IT services company

Marital status: Married to Megan McConagha

Children/family: Hudson, 11 years old, sixth grade, Cape Elizabeth Middle School, and Kyla, 9 years old, fourth grade, Pond Cove Elementary School. Highest Level of education completed: B.A., international relations

Name and location of school or university last attended: Brown University

Organizations and activities: Current school board member, Cape Elizabeth Land Trust

Top three issues: (in order of priority)

1. Align the district’s operational strategy and climate with its new mission and vision statement 2. Produce a budget process that’s transparent, rigorous, thorough and results-oriented.

3. Contribute to a culture of continuous improvement, with effective, collaborative relations between board, town council, staff and administrators. Why are you seeking elected office?

When I ran for school board three years ago, my goal was to help protect a great school system from the funding pressure that was bound to come in the wake of the national financial crisis. Through the hard work of committed administrators and board members, we did protect our schools and our budgets were approved by voters by wide margins.

But I also hoped that we could find ways to improve our practice, and this is what I’m most excited about today. In spite of extraordinary strain on the system produced by budget pressure, we have nudged our schools in a positive direction. There are many people who deserve credit for this shift, and I am proud to be part of an effective team that has sought continuos improvement.

Together, we have energized the district through new leadership, hiring an exceptional superintendent, Pond Cove principal and community services director, among others. We have captured that energy and infused it with purpose through an innovative mission and vision statement that positions our schools for future growth. And we look forward to the development of a strategic plan to realize the values expressed in our mission and vision.

We will continue to face financial strain as state and federal revenues decline further. But the focus has shifted to the positive work of developing a better future for our students. An experienced school board will play a vital role in this process. I am eager to continue to be a part of this exciting work

Michael Goulding

Age: 57

Occupation: Chiropractor

Marital status: Married

Children/family: Two daughters, Sarah and Emily

Highest Level of education completed: Doctorate of Chiropractic and BS in special education

Name and location of school or university last attended: Palmer College of Chiropractic

Organizations and activities: St. Bart’s Faith Formation Top three issues: (in order of priority) 1. Children 2. Teachers 3. Funding out of Augusta

Why are you seeking elected office?

I have two daughters in the Cape Elizabeth school system and I thought that with my background of teaching in the public school system for four years, running my business and being a taxpayer I would have a unique appreciation of the school system. I do believe that I could be helpful in the process.

William Gross

Age: 66

Occupation: Retired – previously telecom engineer and also manager of computer programmers

Marital status: Married

Children/family: Wife and two grown children

Highest Level of education completed: BS in engineering science

Name and location of school or university last attended: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Organizations and activities:

Veteran of U.S. Marine Corp including a tour in Vietnam.

Top three issues: (in order of priority)

1. Coming revolution in education methods (e.g. Kahn Academy)

2. State/federal requirement for new teacher evaluation methodology

3. School budget pressures

Why are you seeking elected office?

For the past two years, I have been volunteering two days a week in Dr. Michael Efron’s freshman honors physics class. The class is outstanding, with a college-style format, and I enjoy working with these bright young freshmen. Now, after “attending” Cape High School two days each week as an adult, I want to use my unique viewpoint on the school board to improve our schools.

I believe we are a great school system operating like almost every other school in a 100-year-old format. The old model of teachers repeating the same lecture for five periods to different groups of students; then repeating the same five periods of lecture year after year wastes too much of our teachers’ valuable time. There is a revolution in education coming that will flip this 100-year-old model onto its head. The lectures will be recorded and viewed by students as homework and the teachers will have many more hours during the day to coach individual students.

I believe we are on the cusp of this revolution in education and we may well soon feel its first tremors here in Cape Elizabeth. We’re in the midst of creating a new strategic plan for our district. Our school budget seems precariously dependent on the largess of our state department of education. I want to serve on the school board in order to balance the requirements of our quest for educational excellence with the needs of our teachers and the burden on our taxpayers.

David C. Hillman

Age: 60

Occupation: Attorney, school board member, part-time volunteer teacher of Mock Trial Team at high school

Marital Status: Single

Children: son, 18, senior at Cape Elizabeth High School

Education/professional background: BA from University of Maine (Orono) in 1974 (valedictorian of class); JD from Yale Law School (1977); Lawyer at Verrill Dana LLP in Portland for 35 years, specializing in large corporate reorganizations, commercial litigation and health law.

Organizations and Activities: Member of Cape Elizabeth School Board; member of Cape Elizabeth Educational Foundation; member of Cape Elizabeth Land Trust; teacher of Cape High School Mock Trial Team; St. Alban’s Episcopal Church

Top three issues (in order of priority):

1.Address revenue shortfalls due to cutbacks in federal and state aid to education. We are currently already facing an approximately $300,000 loss in funding from cutbacks in Medicaid. It is highly likely, given the climate in Congress and the Maine Legislature (and the governor), as well as changes in the state funding formula for aid to local public schools, there will be additional revenue shortfalls. This shortfall (between revenue and expenses) will be exacerbated by normal yearly increases in costs. The solution will require expert knowledge and experience regarding school budgeting to maximize revenue sources while seeking all reasonable expense savings.

2. Maintaining the high quality of Cape schools in light of shrinking state/federal revenues. All citizens of Cape, not just parents, value our high quality school system, and they want it maintained as one of the top public school systems in Maine. I agree. But doing so in face of cutbacks in funding from sources other than Cape citizens will require creative thinking, expert budgetary analysis and most importantly, experience in dealing with this issue. As a school board member for three years, and based on my experience/skills in the legal field, I have dealt with these issue for three years, and we did it successfully.

3. Keeping local taxes at a reasonable level while maintaining high quality schools in spite of declining outside sources of revenue. Addressing these three issues in a successful manner requires a delicate balancing of the tension inherent in adequately accomplishing all three of these somewhat conflicting goals. To do so, you need to have the skill, and especially the experience, to gauge what savings can you achieve without compromising quality, and to raise revenue from all possible sources so as to keep the local tax rate at a level that is reasonable but also is enough to maintain quality. As a school board member, I have helped do this for three years and I believe I have the skills and experience to maximize our chances of doing it for three more years.

Why are you seeking elected office?

A more meaningful question is “Why should someone vote for me?” The answer is that actual hands-on experience doing the job at issue (and doing it successfully) is the most important reason to vote for a particular candidate. This is especially true regarding this election because for the next three-year term, the Cape Elizabeth School Board will be faced with the same critical issues that its current members successfully dealt with in the past – more cutbacks in funding from the state and federal governments, maintaining the high quality school system that Cape expects but at a reasonable cost to taxpayers, and the need (on a cost effective basis) to continually improve our curriculum so our students can meet the ever-increasing challenge of a global work environment. Successful experience will be essential to meet these challenges. I have that experience, plus other skills and experience, which I believe will better enable me to address these issues, and I would be honored to earn the vote of Cape’s citizens for reelection.

Mary (Kate) Williams-Hewitt

Age: 48

Occupation: Teacher

Marital status: Married

Children/family: Married to Jonathan Hewitt. We have four children.

Lucy is 19, Forest is 18, Quinn is 13 and Dylan Connor is 9.

Highest Level of education completed: B.S. in education; certified tutor in the Orton-Gillingham Method

Name and location of school or university last attended: Wheelock College, Boston, Mass.; Dyslexic Center, Portland

Organizations and activities: Cape Elizabeth School Board member past three years; member of International Dyslexic Association; member of National Association of the Education of Young Children; consulting member of Reading Matters to Maine; director and teacher of The Children’s Nursery School, Portland

Top three issues (in order of priority):

1. Overseeing the superintendent in the running of the Cape Elizabeth School System.

2. Understanding thoroughly each line item and only then adopting a budget that is fiscally responsible and representative of all Cape citizens.

3. Questioning curriculum decisions.

Why are you seeking elected office?

I am hoping to be re-elected to the school board because I believe there is still work to be done. I believe it is my job to ask hard questions of the superintendent and our administration in terms of budget, hiring, evaluations and how to best meet the needs of all learners. As a board member, I continue questioning until a comprehensive answer is given. Researching this answer and asking more questions ultimately allows me to be confident in my yes or no votes on agenda items. I believe that a school board member needs to go to each meeting with our entire community in mind: retirees, working families, single households and everything in between. I try to look at each agenda item from the eyes of students who spend time in the instructional support, honors to advanced placement classrooms. I need to understand what laws and mandates Augusta and Washington are sending our way, at the same time keeping informed of what scientific studies have discovered about children’s brain development and the way we all learn. And, never forgetting that the world is now much smaller because of the Internet and that our children will be competing for jobs with students around the globe. As a school board member, I cannot have my own agenda. I work for children by understanding what the community is willing and able to provide for their futures. It takes all of us to make our schools work for the betterment of our community and the world.

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