2013-11-01 / Community

Cape school board race sees newcomers

The race for two vacancies on the Cape Elizabeth School Board will feature one incumbent and two newcomers. Vice Chairman Michael Moore is seeking re-election, and will be challenged by William Gross and Susana Measelle Hubbs, who will each seek their first term on the board. Incumbent Mary Townsend is not running for re-election. The responses are in alphabetical order.

Name: William Gross
Age: 67
Address: 7 Sea View Ave.
Family: Wife and two children
Prior political experience: None

Volunteer/community involvement: I have volunteered two-three days a week for the past four years as a physics/math tutor in Dr. Efron’s freshman honors physics class

Why are you running for office: For the past four years I have been volunteering two-three days a week in Dr. Efron’s freshman honors physics class. I witness our outstanding school system and tremendously talented teachers up close every day. Still, I see many areas where small changes could make our schools even better. 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.

Are there ways in which the council and school board could work more collaboratively in the future? Cape Elizabeth has a “one town” philosophy, which is characterized by an extremely high level of cooperation between the town council and the school board. The town council and the school board have worked very closely to produce a draft of a 10-year combined town/school capital improvement program. I wish to encourage this level of cooperation in the future.

What are some of the greatest challenges facing the school district? How do you see yourself generating solutions to those challenges in your term?

The most important issues the next school board will face:

1. In 2016, and each year thereafter, we will receive a $700,000 “windfall” budget savings as one of our school bonds is paid off. The school board currently plans to use these dollars as well as another bond to fund capital improvements. I want to use this yearly $700,000 savings to fund our normal budget needs and thereby lessen our dependence on the state revenue sharing. We can then use the “extra” $700,000 in state aid each year to fund our capital improvement needs.

2. The school board will finalize our school system’s Strategic Plan this year. I want to help shape this plan. For example, we are a great school system using 100-year-old teaching methods. The old model – of forcing the entire classroom of 20 students to learn same amount of material in the same amount of time – is coming to an end. We are on the cusp of a revolution in education that will flip this 100-year-old model onto its head. The Kahn Academy, which uses technology to allow each student to progress through the curriculum at his/her own pace, is an excellent example of what this revolution will look like.

3. Our current contract with our teachers will expire in 2014. I believe we can improve on the current contract by identifying our best teachers and rewarding them with larger annual salary increases, while reducing the salary increases of our less able teachers. I would like to begin a dialog with our teachers’ union to see if we can achieve this goal.

Name: Susana Measelle Hubbs
Age: 46
Address: 18 Belfield Road

Family: Married to Robert Hubbs, three children, Aidan, 13, who is in seventh grade; Jude, 11, in sixth grade and Freya, 6, who is in first grade. All attend Cape Elizabeth public schools.

Political experience: None

Volunteer/community involvement: Running with Scissors artist and member; volunteer art teacher at Appletree School pre-K through kindergarten; Cape Elizabeth Democratic Committee; active supporter of S.A.F. E. in Cape Elizabeth for the construction of pedestrian pathway on Shore Road; active in Maine EQ campaign support 2012; fundraising donor for Cape Farm Alliance and Children’s Museum of Portland

Why are you running for office: With all three of my children in Cape Elizabeth schools as of this year, the timing is perfect for me to give back to this community. I believe we are all stakeholders in the education our town offers its youth – regardless of whether one has school-age children. Providing children with skills and experiences which will best prepare them for success in their lives and the careers they follow will inevitably benefit our community. Furthermore, I feel strongly that maintaining our educational assets within a fiscally responsible and transparent system which is tax-neutral is warranted.

I am very excited with the direction the administration and school board are headed. I want to facilitate and work in synchronicity with the school district’s newly defined and refined Mission & Vision. I believe that tapping the social resources of our community is one significant means to accomplishing these goals. The Mission & Vision is a result of a community-wide collaboration, which should receive ample support and be executed within a proactive climate in order for it to blossom. I feel strongly that the incoming school board members (newly and re-elected) should begin the next term with a commitment to this in place.

Are there ways in which the council and school board could work more collaboratively in the future? Definitely.

Evidence of this already exists in the combined Capital Investment Plan drafted by members of both the town council and school board. Joining forces on other issues, so to communicate and inform all residents, is possible through community workshops, research and reports distributed town-wide and increased general town brainstorming. Strengthening communication between not only the town council and the school board, but also between them and all members of the community, is the means by which true collaboration will be made possible.

What are some of the greatest challenges facing the school district? How do you see yourself generating solutions to those challenges in your term? The obligation to provide high-quality and comprehensive instructional programs tailored to the individual so that each student attains academic success. In particular, making necessary modifications to the education plan for students who routinely fall to the low end of the achievement spectrum and implementing programs for student who qualify as Gifted and Talented. I firmly believe that implementing the school board’s five-year Strategic Plan provides the best road map to addressing this issue. Teaching core academic subjects utilizing innovative and differentiated instruction will reach all styles of learners by teaching to students’ strengths, skills and passions.

Name: Michael Moore
Age: 42
Address: 10 Manor Way

Family: Married with three children ages 3, 6 and 8

Prior political experience: Cape Elizabeth School Board, 2010-current; Cape Elizabeth School Board vice chairman, 2012-current; Cape Elizabeth School Board Finance Committee chairman, 2012-current; Thomas Memorial Library Trustee, 2009-2010

Volunteer/community involvement: Cape Elizabeth Youth League coach, softball, Tee Ball, soccer; Cape Elizabeth Land Trust volunteer, serve on Lands Committee; Youth Teacher and Stewardship Committee, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, former board member and volunteer for Center for Grieving Children

Why are you running for office: There are tremendous opportunities for Cape Elizabeth’s school and community services programs to continue to positively impact all of its citizens. I want to make sure these opportunities are realized. It is important for any wellfunctioning governance board to have diverse skills and experiences. My financial and analytical background provides a unique and needed skill on the school board. Second, I bring a business and entrepreneurial perspective to the Cape Elizabeth School Board. Change can be challenging. I can provide insight and guidance on managing change. Finally, I am results-oriented, focused and willing to tackle the difficult issues.

In my roles as school board finance chair, vice chair, Building and Grounds Committee chair,

CEEF liaison, co-chair of the Superintendent Search Committee and other leadership positions, I have worked hard to listen to stakeholders, move the district forward and position our schools to positively impact the community.

What are some of the greatest challenges facing the school district. How do you see yourself generating solutions to those challenges in your term?

Meeting each student’s learning needs is always the most pressing issue. Why? The community’s expectation is that Cape Elizabeth’s schools continue to provide highquality comprehensive instructional programs that support diverse learning styles and needs. To continue to meet these expectations, it is imperative that a new strategic plan is completed and adopted next year. Additionally, the Common Core Standards are coming and may require substantial changes to our curriculum and instructional practices.

The new strategic plan should encompass the communityheld values identified in the Mission and Vision Statement, establish clear goals for meeting learning objectives and professional development needs, provide measurable benchmarks for monitoring progress and prepare the district for the Common Core Standards adoption. I am committed to getting this critical work done.

The state continues to fall short of its funding target for public education. This means local districts have to think creatively about resource allocation and plan for an uncertain future. Setting priorities and identifying needs, such as capital improvement and facilities maintenance, are crucial to planning for success. My financial background, analytical problem-solving approach and experience on the school board’s Finance Committee, Building and Grounds Committee and Strategic Planning Committee should help the schools move forward.

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