Auburn School Committee, at-large, Patricia Gautier

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Patricia Gautier

Name: Patricia Gautier

Occupation: retired Edward Little High School librarian

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Education: graduate of Portland High School, Wheaton College and masters in library science from the University of Maine at Orono

Family: married, Don Gautier, 3 grown children, 8 grandchildren

Political experience: None

Answers:

1. Why do you think you’re the best candidate for this seat, and why are you running?

My experiences and knowledge from working in the schools will have a positive impact on the school committee. I worked with high school students for 25 years at ELHS, and was coordinator for six elementary librarians for three years. I also represent the school system on the Auburn Public Library Board of Trustees. I am a parent of three ELHS graduates, and have 3 grandchildren in Auburn schools. I am retired now and able to give the time I did not have before to public service.  

2. What do you like, and what don’t you like, about the school budget passed in the spring? ($41.75 million in Auburn, up by $1 million; $74.3 million in Lewiston, up by $5.5 million)

The current budget represents a lot of work on the part of the school committee. I voted for it willingly. Holding down taxes in previous years resulted in the per pupil expenditures in Auburn being dramatically cut. We lost a lot of staff and programs. There have been successful attempts to get our school system back on par with comparable size cities in Maine and it is important to continue these efforts. Being retired, I do not want my property taxes to rise significantly, but I do want our educational system to be well funded. It is important to the children and economic development of this community.

3. When it comes to property taxes, what kind of budget would you support this spring?

I am concerned about the unfunded mandates coming from the state. Last year school systems were required to absorb retirement contributions and administration costs. This year the state is considering moving the cost of pre-school care for special needs children from social services to the individual cities and towns. These services are vital to 3-5 year olds as early intervention is crucial for their development. But it will impact local school budgets and could mean cutting from other K-12 programs. I will support a reasonable budget that maintains current programming and enables the system to grow and meet the needs of all students.

4. What, to you, is the biggest issue facing Lewiston or Auburn schools, and how would you like to see it addressed? 

The biggest issue I see facing Auburn schools is not so much an issue as an opportunity for the whole community to come together to support a new high school with unique programming and exciting experiences for our students. Will we build a beautiful, new school that offers what we have now? Or a new 21st century high school that enables our students to be competitive in the constantly changing world we live in? Or create a blend of the old and the new? Whatever we do, it must benefit our students and attract new people and businesses to our community, expand our tax base, and enrich lives. This is a rare opportunity to create something unique for Auburn.

5. Do you support the merger of Lewiston and Auburn?

I am undecided. I agree with points on both sides and am conflicted.

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