Name: Megan Parks
Office sought: Lewiston School Committee, at-large
Occupation: social worker
Education: currently completing masters in psychology degree
Family: husband, two children
Political experience: current at-large School Committee representative
1. Why do you think you’re the best candidate for this seat, and why are you running?
The role of a School Committee member is a very person-focused role; on the surface the discussions may be about budgets, funding and policies, but we need to keep in mind that every decision we make affects people: our students, teachers and community members. I don’t think any one candidate is the “most qualified” candidate for any role. … I work hard to familiarize myself with other people’s experiences and perspectives, with the goal of expanding my understanding and my toolbox. … I am running for the same reasons I ran two years ago, to continue to contribute to positive changes for the people of our community.
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)
I did not like that some important needs for our schools and our students were sacrificed in favor of increased administrative expenses. On average, state-wide, Lewiston’s administrative costs per student are lower than most other districts, but there’s some room for trimming administrative costs in favor of direct student needs.
3. When it comes to property taxes, what kind of budget would you support this spring?
If re-elected, this will be my third budget season with the School Committee. I have learned that despite the hard work put in by everyone involved to keep spending down, there will never be a budget presented to the public that makes everyone 100 percent happy. With this in mind, I would support a budget that meets the minimum required local share, prioritizes student needs, and eliminates or minimizes any local tax increase.
4. What, to you, is the biggest issue facing Lewiston or Auburn schools, and how would you like to see it addressed?
Classroom overcrowding, excessive assessment and standardized testing, poor implementation of new curriculum and grading structures are our greatest in-school issues. Food insecurity, poverty, and a lack of access to health care are our greatest community based issues. Each of these intertwine to contribute to our graduation and drop-out rates, our test scores, our classroom overcrowding, and the struggles our teachers face in the classroom. We do a great job at offering additional supports and alternative programs at the middle and high schools, but until we start better addressing these issues at the elementary level, our graduation rates and long-term success of our students will not improve.
5. Do you support the merger of Lewiston and Auburn?
I am neither for nor against the merger.