Name: Stephanie Phillips

Work history: Currently employed as photo-interpreter at Sewall Co., Old Town

Political experience: Member, RSU 34 Board of Directors, 2011-2014

Community/state/civic organization experience: Board of Directors for Leonard’s Mills Living History Museum (2010-2013); member, Daughter’s of Isabella, St. Cecilia Circle #428.

Why are you running? I am running to serve a second term as amember of the RSU 34 Board of Directors because I believe I am an effective representative to the Board for Old Town. My husband, Dan, and I have two children attending Old Town Elementary School. We have a vested interest in ensuring our schools offer a high quality education for our children and their friends and all the students in RSU 34. We are also tax payers in Old Town and are very cognizant of the balancing act between providing a high quality education and the financial burdens on tax payers. I have learned a lot about being a member of the Board of Directors during my first term and look forward to applying that knowledge during a second term.

What do you see as the current issues for RSU 34? Funding and the source(s) of funding is a perpetual issue for any public school system in the US. The local mill closing will no doubt have an effect on funding (and population of students) for the RSU. I believe we will be able to maintain our budget with the creative thinking our Administrators show, year after year, despite the situation with the mill. I am not attempting to downplay the struggle for enough financial resources for the RSU, but, I want to discuss other policy concerns that are new, while the struggle for financing remains the one constant in an education system plagued by a constant cycle of state mandated reforms. This current school year is the first year of full implementation of the new Common Core State Standards. I have real concerns over the developmental appropriateness of the standards, especially at the elementary school level. Our students will be taking the new Smarter Balanced Assessment tests in the spring (replacing the New England Common Assessments) and students from other states (particularly New York) have really struggled with the new assessments associated with the Common Core standards, and I am concerned for our students and teachers as they adjust to the new standards. Perhaps the biggest new issue is the state mandate for – Proficiency Based Diplomas. The high school is mandated to switch to this type by, well, pick a year, as the Department of Education just accepted a new round of waivers. This type of system is being tried at the Leonard Middle School now. Research this type of system, decided the pros and cons of the system as the high school does the same this year. You can bet I will be looking into this system as we move forward over the coming year – my children’s future depends on that.

Name: Alyson Veilleux.

Work history: I currently work as a medical assistant and have for the past 8 years and work locally. My past experiences have been working in several local school systems, residential assessment programs, foster care and reunified homes. I pride myself on always being a child advocate.

Political experience: I have no political experiences to speak of, but I do encourage all to vote and take action upon their own beliefs and values.

Community/state/civic organization experience: I grew up in Milford and attended OTHS graduating with the class of 1990. I’m a graduate of the University of Maine with a degree in Health and Human Services and Beal College for Medical assisting. I currently have three children with in the RSU 34 school district with one in each level of school as of this year.

Why are you running? I’m running for school board because I feel I owe it to my community and to current and future students including my own to help watch out and be actively part of their futures and to have a quality and high level of education being available to all. I have seen many positives within all three levels of school systems and feel that the kids get great solid foundation and there is truly an excitement around education. I have seen and been part of some concerns that need to be addressed to maintain the level of education and expectations of all our students. A warm handoff to each level maintaining the solid foundations and building upon it. The focus should stay on education and supporting each student. I would love to attempt to stop cutting education on all levels because learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom.

What do you see as the current issues for RSU 34? Again on issues are the solid foundation being built for education with our students being lost about midway through their education years. I feel with each year a child progresses forward should be another level of expectations and responsibility and that lies also with our educators. With the bar being lowered and then raised sets all students up for potential failures and setbacks, making teaching as a whole more difficult and not consistent. Students should be well prepared as they progress and I feel this is not happening, this has been my experience and in many conversations for others as well. I’d like to improve and increase our expectations of our education we are offering and perhaps have students and their families making the choice to keep their kids in RSU #34 because the education that is being offered is what they need. Getting more school wide forums and assemblies on current issues and concerns that are happening around us everywhere. Helping students more when applying and getting into schools to further their education no matter the avenue they decide to take, having a better follow through with students and families getting information and scholarships that are available. Getting more involved with the community.

Name:  David Wollstadt
Work history: Editor and publisher of the Penobscot Times from 1974 to 2002.  Since then, free-lance writer and editor specializing in newsletters for school districts.
Political experience:  Member of the Old Town and RSU 34 school boards from 1997 to 2013 (although I would classify that as community experience, rather than political experience).
Community/state/civic organization experience:  Old Town Rotary Club, 1974 to 1985 (approx) and 2003 to present; United Way Board of Directors, late 1970s and early 1980s; Maine Press Association Board of Directors at various times while I owned the Times; Friends of Maine Hockey board and volunteer editor of the Friends of Maine Hockey Newsletter, 1991 to 2011.
Why are you running?  For the past 10 years, I have spent a lot of time in school districts throughout Maine talking with teachers and administrators about what’s going on in their schools and writing about best practices at all levels of education.  I want to share this experience with the RSU 34 board and administration.
What do you see as the current issues for RSU 34? We need to maintian the quality of our schools, so that children in our district are able to succeed in whatever they want to do after graduation from Old Town High School. We also need to strike the appropriate balance between the needs of the district for resources that are essential if we are to maintain achieve high-quality schools and the needs of taxpayers, most of whom do not receive annual cost-of-living wage increases and who haven’t been receiving automatic increases for a number of years now. I would like to help RSU 34 develop a process for recognizing our best teachers with performance-based compensation, possibly along the lines of what RSU 22 in Hampden has started doing.  However, I recognize that this is a very complicated issue, both in terms of determining which teachers should be rewarded and how such a process can be or should be administered. So far, this does not appear to be a problem in RSU 34, but I keep reading about episodes where school administrators across the country apply “zero tolerance” policies and wind up doing things like disciplining a 5-year-old for taking a few bites out of a Pop Tart and pretending that the remainder is a gun.  In most cases, “zero tolerance” policies are admissions by school boards that their administrators can’t be trusted to use good judgment.  As I said, I do not believe that this is a problem in RSU 34, and I sincerely hope that will continue to be the case.
Ron Sagner did not respond to the Times’ profile request.

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