NORWAY — Races for two SAD 17 directors and a selectman will be decided by voters Tuesday, June 9.

Directors Jared Cash of Cushman Woods Road and Stephen Cummings of Orchard Street are being challenged by political newcomer Michael Marshall of Round the Pond Road.

Selectman Russ Newcomb of Country Club Road is in the race with former Selectman Gary Howe of Ashton Road, a write-in candidate.

The candidates were asked two questions:

1. What’s the biggest issue facing the town/school district?

2. If you could put extra money in the budget, where would it go?

School Director Jared Cash said the biggest issue facing the board is investing in the future of children.

“In a state that is dying and aging more quickly than any other state, thoughtful investments in our children’s future must be done with sensitivity to our elderly population,” Cash said. “That said, our newest generation deserves champions, too. I feel strongly that the communitywide strategic plan that was formulated over 18 months with the eight-town Oxford Hills community and adopted by the full Board of Directors last December will provide a thoughtful blueprint for investments in more productive endeavors and cuts in practices and programs that no longer serve our students and community.  . . . It’s a constant balancing act, but having a pathway established for all our schools and stakeholders is key and I’m eager to support this five-year plan.”

Cash said that if he had a choice of where to put more money in the budget, it would be geared toward tying community and students together.

“Community members consistently call for more focus on learning that ties students to real-world skills,” Cash said. “Recently, I’ve grown more interested in revitalizing the athletic, music, civic and learning programs that bolster ties between students and their school and hometown communities.

“All research clearly shows that our most engaged students excel through school and beyond,” Cash said. “Lastly, we must stay focused on grade schools. Too often, the buzz and attention zeros in on the high school.”

Cash is a former board president for the Cottage Street Creative Exchange, a member of the Advisory Board for Let’s Get Ready and serves as vice president of enrollment at the University of Maine at Farmington.

School Director Stephen Cummings said the biggest issue facing the board is developing a budget that maintains existing programs despite increasing costs in health care, fuel and special education, as the state has continued to reduce its subsidy.

“As a board member, I am on the Budget Committee and have worked with and supported the efforts of management to reach a goal of meeting (the Essential Programs and Services) local share by fiscal year 2016-17,” he said.

Cummings said he wants the state to meet its obligation, mandated by voters 10 years ago, to fund education at the rate of 55 percent.

“If this were to happen, it would lessen the burden on the local taxpayer, restore funding at all levels needed to operate the schools in the district and provide all students with a sound education,” he said.

Cummings is a trustee of the Norway Water District, a past Oxford Hills Rotary Club member, a former Wood Products Manufacturing Association board member and a former Forest Products Workers Compensation Trust vice chairman. He works as a loss control representative for Acadia Insurance Co.

Michael Marshall, the challenger in the school board race, said the biggest issue facing the school district is encouraging prekindergarten opportunities.

“Children need to be prepared for schooling,” he said. “Many families can not afford to give their families a head start in school. Some kids start out behind their peers in school and never get caught up.

“The district needs to provide every child an opportunity to enroll in pre-k and also provide teachers and staffing throughout the year,” he said.

Marshall said more money should go to providing qualified teachers and increasing teachers’ salaries because they do not get enough for what they do.

Marshall is a Norway Youth Baseball coach, Boosters basketball coach, former student representative on the SAD 17 board and president of the Class of 1999. He works as head chef of the Mt. Abram Ski Area in Greenwood.

Selectman Russell A. Newcomb said one of the most difficult issues facing the Board of Selectmen is recouping revenue the town has lost and will lose in the future.

“With all of the cuts coming down to the towns and the schools from the state level, it is hard to find a way to still fund many services the town’s taxpayers have come to expect,” he said. “State revenue-sharing alone has been a big portion of our revenue budget. This has seen deep cuts recently and I believe will be totally taken away from us in the near future. There are many expenses such as plowing roads, funding fire departments, etc. that we must fund.

“As a board member, I try and hope to continue to scrutinize where our money is spent,” he said. “It is a balancing act to try and fund and expand many of the ongoing projects and wants from the town’s folk, while not taxing many of our citizens out of their homes.”

Newcomb said if he had a choice of putting more money into the budget, it would go toward improving roads.

“When I was first elected to the board 15 years ago, the condition of the roads in Norway was the hot topic,” he said. “Even though we have done a good job on many of the roads over the years, it is very hard to keep up on the repairs of 70-plus miles of road.

“We have had several bonds issued over the years so that we can do more work on the roads, which seems to work well, because it keeps the budget from having big spikes,” he said. “It is important to many people to have quality roads. Having good access to our homes and businesses improves the value of them.”

Newcomb served on the Budget Committee before becoming selectman. He has served the past 13 years on the Oxford County Budget Advisory Committee and six years on the Maine Municipal Association’s Legislative Policy Committee. He is a longtime member and current vice president of the Oxford County Municipal Officers Association. A veteran member of the Fire Department, he is captain of the tank company. He has been a self-employed mechanic and business owner for 35 years.

Gary Howe is in Florida and did not respond to questions given to him.

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