Ward 3 — Park Avenue/Fairview schools area

Tom Kendall

Age: 61

Address: 221 Stevens Mill Road

Occupation: Self-employed, event timing and results.

Education: Edward Little High School, 1968; Dartmouth College, 1972

Political experience: Auburn School Committee

Community organizations: Auburn Ski Association, LAYSA.

What’s the biggest problem you perceive in the Auburn School Department, and how will you work to correct it?

We are losing one in three of our students with 30 percent not graduating. To me that indicates our school structure is failing to engage students in learning. My response is symbolized by the iPad initiative in the primary grades. It has already been reported that using this new tool has resulted in improved student engagement and learning. It has also begun our journey down the path toward individualized learning where each student progresses at their own pace toward the common learning outcomes desired by the district.

Looking ahead, these kindergartners will arrive at school next year in very different places along this learning continuum. This will require classroom adjustments in our first grade to adapt to this reality, and continue to move students along their particular learning path. Getting and keeping students engaged with their own learning will improve our loss ratio and it begins when they first enter school.

What’s working well in Auburn schools, something you want to continue or support?

We do an excellent job of professional development with our staff. This increases the equality of the educational experience across the entire district. We must continue to invest in our staff if we expect to have them carry us into the 21st century education experience for our students.

Do you support the iPads of kindergartners program?

Yes (see first answer above). I wholeheartedly support the iPads and believe it will transform education as we currently know it. Our hope is to secure grant funding where available, but my belief is that the research study will conclusively prove the value of iPads in early education. With this data supporting our direction, incorporating the incremental expense in our budget should not be a deal breaker.

Edward Little is in need of repairs, but it is unlikely state money for a new high school is coming soon. Should the city pay for a new or improved high school on its own? Would you rebuild, renovate or leave the building as is?

There is no question in my mind that anything we decide to do regarding secondary education will require local funding. What I am not comfortable saying is exactly what that will look like in terms of physical structure. The evolution of learning in the 21st century will impact the design of the physical plant necessary to accomplish the goals of our current and future learners.

What’s your position on the next Auburn school budget and property taxes? Should the school budget’s impact on property taxes be flat-funded, decreased or increased, and why?

Certainly I would appreciate any additional funding the city deems prudent to send our way. It is the job of the City Council to set the budget, and our task as a School Committee to spend that amount as wisely as we can. More money is not the answer to many of our challenges, but there are contractual budget drivers that require increased funding just to stay even. Operational costs continue to increase, and maintenance issues mount as we defer year-by-year costs that only increase with each deferral. The opportunity to address some of these issues is enabled by an appropriate level of funding.

Why are you running?

I have a vision for education in the 21st century that I would like to continue promoting. I grew up in Auburn, attended school in Auburn and worked my adult life here. Auburn has much to be proud of, and I would like to make our educational system one of those pillars of pride.

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