LEWISTON — At most school committee meetings, only those paid to be there attend.

But there’s a change brewing in Lewiston. If you show up late for a School Committee meeting, you might not get a seat. More parents are showing up, asking questions, and looking for improvements for their students.

Earlier this year, McMahon Elementary School parents were unhappy with crowded kindergarten classes. Each class held 25 or 26 students, which is too many, they said. They shared their concerns with the committee.

Kindergarten parent Janet Beaudoin looked up a state regulation that limited kindergarten classes to 20 students per class. Lewiston was over that limit by five or six students. The committee approved hiring more teachers to reduce class sizes.

Now it’s the parents of Lewiston High School freshmen filling meeting room chairs, because the Class of 2018 must earn a proficiency-based diploma. Parents complain that teachers are creating assessments “on the fly,” that there are grading inconsistencies, and that freshmen and their parents don’t know where the students stand academically.

On Monday, parents asked the committee to seek a waiver from the state, delaying implementation and allowing the faculty time to develop standards. Their concerns are being looked into, and a report will be given by Lewiston High School Principal Shawn Chabot on March 9.


School Committee members listen to parents’ suggestions and concerns. It is possible that freshmen parents be — like the kindergarten parents — will get what they ask for.

— Bonnie Washuk

Export ME

Press releases and fact sheets sent by the White House to news media are often tailored to the recipient’s state, and one this week caught our eye.

“Today, the Administration will highlight that merchandise exports from Maine hit $2.8 billion in 2014, an increase of $65 million over 2013.”

From there, it’s a host of numbers to dazzle the guests at your next dinner party: 


* In 2014, Maine’s top export was paper at $484 million;

* The second-highest export was fish and marine products at $434 million;

* Oil and gas exports came in third at $278 million;

And in 2013, exports supported 14,000 jobs in Maine, 11.3 million nationwide.

— Kathryn Skelton

They’re falling in Auburn


The tough year for Auburn School Committee members continues — a second member has been injured in a fall from a ladder.

In January, Chairman Larry Pelletier resigned after suffering serious injuries in a fall from a ladder.

On Wednesday night, Ward 1’s Peter Letourneau showed up for meetings with bruises all over his face and one arm in a cast.

Letourneau, 67, said two weeks ago, he was on a ladder clearing ice from his roof when the ladder got away from him. The ladder fell and he fell along with it, he said.

“My wife, Sandra Nyberg, rescued me,” he said. “And she called 911.”

When Pelletier fell in November, he also said the ladder got away from him while clearing leaves from the roof gutter.


As Letourneau took a seat at the first of two meetings he attended Wednesday night, he downplayed his injuries, saying he wasn’t hurt as badly as Pelletier, who was hospitalized for 20 days and needed multiple operations.

Letourneau was hospitalized for three days. He broke his wrist and many bones in his face. He has to eat a liquid diet for weeks.

“I’m looking forward to eating a steak,” he said.

He cracked jokes as he shared his tale, displaying an upbeat attitude. He plans to attend all school board meetings, including the March budget sessions.

Letourneau has advice for fellow members Bonnie Hayes, Tom Kendall, Christopher Langis, Laurie Tannenbaum and Mary LaFontaine: Stay off ladders, “at least until May.”

Meanwhile, Pelletier showed up at Wednesday’s meeting to report on the Wellness Committee, of which he remains a member.

Letourneau also serves on the Wellness Committee.

— Bonnie Washuk

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.