Herrick, Gray focus on Auburn school seats

AUBURN — Two candidates seeking to reform the City Council and the School Committee decided this week to focus on the schools.

Dan Herrick and Joe Gray had completed petitions putting them on the ballot for seats on both boards. They withdrew their nominations for the City Council seats, according to City Clerk Sue Clements-Dallaire.

Herrick, of 470 Hatch Road, had guaranteed spots on the ballot for the Ward 3 Council seat and for the Ward 3 School Committee seat currently held by Tom Kendall.

Herrick said Friday that he had withdrawn from the council race to focus on the School Committee.

"They both need help, don't they?" Herrick said. "I want to go where I can do the most good for the public right now."

Gray, of 1200 Sopers Mill Road, had a guaranteed spot on the ballot for the Ward 5 School Committee seat, challenging incumbent Larry Pelletier. Gray was also one of six candidates that had guaranteed spots on the ballot for two at-large City Council seats.

Gray said Friday he decided the schools need more help and sensible leadership. He said he disagreed with how the School Department has managed the student computers at the high school and middle school levels.

"I think you can see that the way they've handled new iPads has not been thought completely through," Gray said. "That's the kind of thing I think they do a lot and that I want to get away from. I think they have a history of making rash decisions."

Clements-Dallaire said Friday was the last day for candidates to withdraw before the municipal ballot was settled.

"It's ready to go to the printer now, so this is the last change I'm able to make," she said.

Voters go to the polls on Nov. 6 to fill the seven City Council seats, seven School Committee seats and the mayor's seat.

Absentee ballots for those seats should be available by Oct. 4.


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I don't know Herrick, but Joe

I don't know Herrick, but Joe Gray will bring common sense to the school board.

Jason Theriault's picture

My butt.

It's not common sense, it's penny pinching. People who are for lower taxes regardless of the outcome love to focus on the iPads. It wasn't rash. The school was party of a study that showed the iPads increased literacy scores in the kids who used them verses the control.

If you want to argue that they are extravagant, thats fine. But it was not a rash decision.

Jason, I just read both your

Jason, I just read both your comment and Joe Grays comment. Joe's comment is an example of common sense reasoning, while yours is an example of an emotional attack against Joe. To me, imho, Joe is looking out for the best interests of both the property owners and the KIDS. You, it seems you just want to throw money down the bottomless pit without asking questions.

Jason Theriault's picture

Without spending too much time

Without spending too much time responding to you(I would rather debate the issues with the man trying to get my vote), how was it an emotional attack? I think my comment was fair, and I didn't react emotionally to his propose, even arguging that saying iPads are extravagant is a valid argument

Jason Theriault's picture

Without spending too much time

Without spending too much time responding to you(I would rather debate the issues with the man trying to get my vote), how was it an emotional attack? I think my comment was fair, and I didn't react emotionally to his propose, even arguging that saying iPads are extravagant is a valid argument

 's picture

The quote is not complete

My concerns with the iPads is not that we have them but in the way the program is being managed. Specifically I am talking about the contract for insuring them.

This week the schools sent home a letter explaining they haven't been able to find an insurer for these computers. It was explained each insurer approached wanted a broken iPad sent to them for repair. This would violate Auburn Schools' agreement with Apple to have broken iPads sent to Apple for repair. So this leaves parents unable to purchase protection against damage.

My concern is parents having to pay for a new iPad because their child fell and accidentally damaged it. The schools' answer is to encourage parents to pay $60 plus dollars out of pocket to get a sturdier case for the iPad. This amounts to an unfunded mandate.

To me, that is unacceptable. If Auburn School Department policy is for students to be issued iPads, the schools should provide insurance for them.

As for penny pinching, there are many, many areas in the school budget that can be addressed that will not impact classrooms. For example, we have cleaning contracts totaling $155,056 and we've budgeted $193,284 for them. So, right there we have $38,000 or so padding in our budget. This is just one example. Each year we overestimate our fuel usage by a healthy margin. There are lots of items in the budget that need to be examined. But our focus must be on getting more money into the classroom.

Jason Theriault's picture

First off

First off, I appreciate the reply. As I disagree with many of the public servants who post, I still appreciated their posting.

Second of all, this must be for the upper grades. My son is in 1st Grade in Fairview, and we haven't received any indication on insurance for the iPads. But as I can track his progress reading, and work with him on it, I like the program.

My biggest concern is the EPS requirements. If the state starts cutting back, Auburn schools will be in serious trouble. Your thoughts?

 's picture


To be honest, I've spent a good deal of time the past few months trying to get a handle on EPS and exactly what it means for Auburn. I have called the state for clarification and it still is not crystal clear to me. I have been told ratios of principals to students is vital yet no one says why. I know we are supposed to spend set amounts for each area of our school budget. Yet sometimes we spend more and sometimes we don't spend enough to meet the EPS formula. With that said, what concern do you have specifically regarding the EPS?

I am worried about the state cutting funding to schools. I don't trust the state to contribute it's share and I worry that Auburn taxpayers won't be able to fund (or have the will to fund) their share. Therefore I am looking for ways to reshape the budget of the school department. Further I have been working for a few years now to suggest ways the city can reduce it's budget and perhaps free up some tax money to help with essential areas - including educating our students. Though many people feel I simply want to slash taxes, I truly don't mind spending money if it NEEDS to be spent. I want more accountability in the way Auburn spends money; including the school system.

I wish more residents would come forward at council or school committee meetings and offer suggestions on savings or ways to improve the way our city and/or schools function. I don't enjoy the reception I get at city council meetings (vacant stares and no interaction or answers) and I didn't enjoy the ambush I received at a recent school committee meeting. I will do my utmost to change the atmosphere and welcome all comments and suggestions. We vitally need more resident input.

With regard to the iPad program, you mentioned earlier studies that prove the worth of using iPads. I have also seen studies proving the opposite. I hope this program works out and am anxious to read more about their worth in the classroom. I have asked teachers I know to offer suggestions for how to improve our schools. I invite any teacher to contact me with suggestions. I don't think we hear enough from teachers and, honestly, too much from admin and school board officials. The teachers are the persons actually responsible to teach our children. They need to be supported. Everything the school department undertakes should focus on improving the education of our students.

Jason Theriault's picture

EPS is confusing

My confusion with EPS comes from the fact that the penalties section was struck, so what the penalties for non-compliance are unclear. However, I think ever source I have read makes it seem like those penalties would be cuts in funding, which would only make the budget problems worse.

Now, as for the iPads, I can give you one very solid way it helps. Due to the masterful job Apple did in designing iOS, kids can just pick up and iPad and use it. The teacher doesn't have to help them set them up, so that they can be used more frequently in classrooms. This allows them to use apps designed for schools.

Now here is a confession, my wife and I are busy( we both work 40+ hours and commute), and we weren't using the tracking part of one of the software programs. Our son's teacher pointed it out to us, made sure we saw it at the beginning of this year(he's in 1st grade). We saw he was starting to lag a little bit in his reading. Nothing serious, but I can read a graph. So, using our home iPad, we have been working on him, getting him to read alot more. We got him reading stories to his sister at bed time. We made it fun.

This could have been a problem. And it could have infected all of his scholastic pursuits. But, the technology made it so much easier to respond and correct them. That's why I'm a big fan.


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