Lewiston School Committee: Two newcomers compete for open seat

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Third of five stories about the Lewiston School Committee races in the Nov. 5 election. Next: incumbent ZamZam Mohamud is challenged by Cindy Mendros for the at-large seat.

LEWISTON — Voters in Ward 6, which includes the areas of outer Lisbon Street and Grove Street will decide which of two newcomers they want to represent them on the School Committee. Matthew Roy and Dawn Hartill cite truancy and lack of parental involvement as problems.

The seat is held by Elizabeth Dube, who is not seeking re-election.

Q: Why are you running?

A: Hartill: “As a mother of three, I have had at least one child in the Lewiston school system every year for the past 12 years. I have a vested interest in the schools in Lewiston and I believe that being involved as a parent is the best way to help ensure that all students are given the education they deserve.”

A. Roy: “To

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Q: What’s a big problem in Lewiston schools, and if elected, what would you do about it?

A: Hartill: “Truancy and parental involvement, these two things go hand in hand. If a parent shows interest in their student’s academic career, then the student is more apt to want to attend school. In order for students to be successful, they have to have good attendance. Once a student starts missing multiple days, it is a slippery slope and they can often get too far behind to be able to catch up with their peers. Parents need to be held responsible for making sure their student attends school. If elected, I would work diligently to make sure the policies around truancy are very clear to parents and I would work to encourage parents to be involved in their student’s school.”

A: Roy: “Three problems: lack of state funding, the new state grading system for schools and truancy and the dropout rate. In November 2003, Maine voters passed a referendum which mandated the state pay 55 percent for education. The state has not met this obligation; this requirement must be met. The new state grading system for schools favors smaller schools over large schools. There should be a mechanism for evaluating schools, but any system must treat any school, small or large, in the same light. As a recent Sun Journal article spotlighted, there is a problem with truancy. There is also an issue with dropouts. These two issues are connected … To reduce truancy and dropouts, parental involvement is key, strong PTOs should be encouraged. Also, students should realize the effects of not graduating from high school.”

Q: What’s going right that you would support?

A: Hartill: “The Lewiston School Department is a PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) environment. Many studies have shown that students thrive when behavioral expectations are clearly defined and there is a reward system for appropriate behavior and clear consequences for problem behavior. The staff at the schools in Lewiston have done a phenomenal job of implementing the PBIS system. I commend them for their efforts.”

A: Roy: “The School Committee has done a good job of giving high school students opportunity to gain college credit while still in high school. Different people learn at different speeds and using different methods. The traditional model of basing education on age is outdated for the 21st century. We should move toward a mass customized learning model (where) instruction is tailored toward each students’ needs and interests.”

Q: Lewiston’s population is growing, early elementary classes are getting crowded. What solution would you look for? Since the Lewiston School Committee rejected redistricting last year, are you satisfied with how and where students attend schools?

A: Hartill: “Yes, Lewiston’s population is growing and early elementary classes are crowded. I am not satisfied with how and where students currently attend schools. A redistricting plan is needed, but I believe it should be based on current residential populations, not on socioeconomic status of the students or whether English is their second language. No one likes change, but the fact is that the populations of the current school districts have changed since they were first implemented. It is necessary for the districts to be redefined.”

A: Roy: “The easy answer is to hire more teachers, but with limited resources this becomes difficult. More people should be encouraged to become teachers … a generational change is coming in the teaching profession.”

Q: On Lewiston’s efforts to boost student learning and graduation rates, what do you approve or disapprove of what’s being done?

A: Hartill: “Lewiston School Department has worked diligently to put plans in place to boost student learning and graduation rates. The PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) system is one example and the efforts to curb truancy are another. With these current programs, Lewiston should see a boost in both student learning and graduation rates within the next few years. I know everyone would like to see immediate results, but it will take time to see the ultimate growth.”

A: Roy: “As I stated, truancy and dropout are connected and this impacts graduation. In 2012 the graduation rate at Lewiston High School was 71 percent. Stronger parental involvement and moving toward mass customized learning are ways of boosting graduation and attendance rates. I disapproved of the redistricting proposal; the proposal was piecemeal since not all schools would have been affected.”

Q: This year, voters approved a $58.4 million budget, an increase of 7.2 percent. What kind of budget would you support next year?

A: Hartill: “As a homeowner and taxpayer, I would love to see no increase in taxes next year. The reality is that the Lewiston population is growing and the budget will need to grow with it. If elected, I would like to use my training in Lean Six Sigma methods to help streamline the budget and find any areas that can be trimmed without affecting the success of the work that the Lewiston schools are doing.”

A: Roy: “I will support a budget that keeps property taxes at zero or as near to zero as possible. To have the base for good schools and a strong community, we need to make Lewiston an attractive place for families to live.”


Election coverage:

Office sought: Lewiston School Committee, Ward 6.

Age:  41.

Address: 75 Summit Ave.

Occupation: certified information systems auditor, IT regulatory governance analyst, TD Bank.

Education: Bachelor of science degree in interdisciplinary studies, Tennessee Temple University, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Family: Married, three sons.

Political experience: None; “first time I have thrown my hat in the ring.”

Matthew P. Roy

Office sought: Lewiston School Committee, Ward 6.

Age: 28.

Address: 357 Randall Road.

Family: Single.

Occupation: Food service receiver at Central Maine Medical Center.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration/accounting.

Political experience: First time running for office.

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