Tina Huntchinson and Thomas Shannon are running  for Lewiston School Committee Ward 7 on Nov. 3, 2015. Learn about more candidates and issues in our Election 2015 guide.

Name:

Tina Hutchinson

Email address:

[email protected]

Facebook:

www.facebook.com/Tina-Hutchinson-for-School-Commitee-Ward-7-889546977790712

Occupation or primary source of income:

Disabled

Education:

Graduated in 1985 from Leavitt Area High School

Family information:

I am a single mother of two. My daughter graduated from Lewiston High School and the University of Maine at Farmington with a degree in elementary education and is currently teaching.

My son is currently a sophomore at Lewiston High School.

Why are you running for office? Why should voters select you for this job?

My daughter went through school when No Child Left Behind went into effect. My son is now going through the implementation of Proficiency Based Education. Throughout the years I have seen a major change in how we educate our children.

Implementation of new programs is key to making our children and teachers successful. Transparency and collaboration is crucial to making our schools the best they can be. All of these things, in my opinion, have been lacking in recent years. I attended most of the school committee meetings this year and was disappointed in not having parents’ concerns heard or addressed.

The Class of 2018 and our teachers were put through major hurdles during the 2014-2015 school year just for Proficiency Based Education to be pulled back and re-implemented. Not only was this detrimental to our children, but it also created more work than necessary for our teachers and cost the taxpayers money that could have been better spent in other areas.

I feel it is time for new faces, new ideas, and people who are actually willing to hear what is being said. Our teachers need to be able to be comfortable speaking out when they have concerns without fear of losing their jobs.

Maybe if we had transparency, collaboration, and new ideas we could figure out why we only have a 70 percent graduation rate — which is unacceptable no matter which math system you use.

Was the last $64.7 million school budget passed too low, too high or just right? And would you support a school budget that boosts program spending, maintains or cuts program spending and why?

We are facing many mandates from the state of Maine and the federal government. The current standardized test, the NWEA, is costing the taxpayers $60,000. Our students are taking this test during September and will be taking it again this school year, even though the state is still determining which test it will have schools use — which will also cost our taxpayers money.

I may not agree with how the money is being spent and think that there are ways to spend the money more wisely, but feel that we have to invest in our schools as our children are our future.

If elected, I will ask the tough questions and make decisions only after having all the facts. I will not vote to make cuts just to save money nor will I vote to add money to a budget just because it is asked for. I will look hard at the reasons behind the cuts and increases, what is best for our students, and what is best for the education of our children. I will not be scared into making cuts nor will I be forced to add unnecessary money to a budget. I will work to make sure taxpayer money is spent wisely and not wasted. I will look out for our students, our staff, and our taxpayers to the best of my ability.

After rolling out Proficiency Based Learning and new diplomas for the Class of 2018, the administrators changed direction and have now delayed the new diplomas until 2021, while other parts of PBL are being implemented now. Is that a good idea or not? Why?

My son is a member of the Class of 2018, and 167 students from this class needed to attend summer school or take standard recovery classes this year in order to pass their freshman year. Students were discouraged. Parents were frustrated. Teachers were overwhelmed.

Now we are going to change directions again and the grades for the Class of 2018 freshmen year will not be figured in their GPA but will be on their transcripts. They will be explaining this for the rest of their lives.

We wasted precious resources in a poor implementation. I am currently a member of the Lewiston High School Proficiency Based Education Committee working toward solving many of the issues that faced our students and our staff. I also serve on the committee looking at graduation requirements for our special education students. This is not the best case scenario, but it was the only option left after a rushed implementation, poor training, and lack of transparency or input from those tasked with doing the actual work.

Classroom overcrowding has been a concern. Do you favor hiring more teachers to reduce classroom sizes? If yes, where should the money come from?

Our class sizes have been growing for years. Kindergarten class sizes are mandated by law and we have to comply. Our teachers are faced with very challenging class sizes with students of varying needs.

When discussing class sizes we need to realize that we are not just talking about the size of classes in our elementary schools, but also with our middle and high school, both of which have overcrowded classes as well.

In the high school there are not enough foreign language teachers to teach the population of students currently requesting to take these classes, and when Proficiency Based Education is 100 percent in effect there will not be enough foreign language teachers for all the students to meet the state mandate.

To be fair to our students and our staff we need to make sure the class sizes are manageable so that teachers can focus on educating our children. We need to be realistic with our expectations of both students and staff and create an environment where education is the goal. I am sure there are other areas of the budget that could be cut to pay for more teachers.

The issue becomes where to put the new teachers when there is no space for more classrooms. We need to be creative in order to meet all the needs for everyone.

The school committee recently voted to build a new elementary school near Lewiston High School that combines and replaces the Martel and Longley schools and gives the city improved athletic fields. Do you favor this plan?

While I understand the need for a new school, I am not in favor of the selected location. We have been told for years that our elementary schools’ enrollment has been increasing. Now it seems that it is leveling off, but those students will be heading to the middle school and the high school in the near future. The middle school was renovated and should be able to accommodate the increased enrollments, but what about the high school? They have now limited options for a few years down the road.

Name:

Thomas P. Shannon

Email address:

[email protected]

Facebook:

www.facebook.com/tom.shannon.984786

Occupation or primary source of income:

Retired

Education:

Attended UMO, no degree

Family information:

Married to the former Gale Ricker of Lewiston, 40 years this past August. Father of four adult children and grandfather of four. Next grandchild anticipated in early 2016.

Public offices sought or held:

It has been my pleasure to serve on the Lewiston School Committee for 20 of the last 25 years. Served as chairman of the School Committee multiple times. Have represented both Ward 5 and Ward 7, depending on the ward boundaries. Served in the Maine State Legislature for one term. Ran unsuccessfully for the City Council after Paul Samson retired.

Why are you running for office? Why should voters select you for this job?

Experience. Dedication. Availability. Commitment. Much has been done. There is much left to do. I stand on my record of attendance and participation.

Was the last $64.7 million school budget passed too low, too high or just right? And would you support a school budget that boosts program spending, maintains or cuts program spending and why?

The budget that was passed included the minimum local share as required by the Maine Legislature. Next year, that minimum local share will increase.

The budget allowed us to begin class size reduction plans in our schools. Substantial positive change in class size will be realized in the next budget year. Should the city of Lewiston not contribute the minimum local share as required by the Legislature, our State Education Subsidy will be reduced by $2.40 for each d0llar not contributed.

Lewiston receives the largest State Education Subsidy. I’m not ready to say “keep it,” or any part of it.

After rolling out Proficiency Based Learning and new diplomas for the Class of 2018, the administrators changed direction and have now delayed the new diplomas until 2021, while other parts of PBL are being implemented now. Is that a good idea or not? Why?

All School Committee members swear an oath to uphold the laws of the state of Maine. When the law was passed requiring Proficiency Based Diplomas, we were bound to attempt to implement that program.

Regardless the reasons, we were not ready to move forward. Current reassignments and retirements have allowed a reassessment to be undertaken at all levels of PBL implementation. Once complete and reviewed, a true assessment can be made about what it will take to move forward. Stay tuned.

Classroom overcrowding has been a concern. Do you favor hiring more teachers to reduce classroom sizes? If yes, where should the money come from?

I do favor hiring more teachers to reduce class size.

All expenses of the school department as to regular education teachers is a shared expense funded through local tax dollars and State Education Subsidy. The next budget will see the end of reduced local share legislation. The published figure when deciding on last year’s budget left a personnel shortfall that needed a $1.1 million plug.

We have made some progress in this area. This amount will shrink considerably before budget work begins in late February or early March, depending on enrollment numbers.

The school committee recently voted to build a new elementary school near Lewiston High School that combines and replaces the Martel and Longley schools and gives the city improved athletic fields. Do you favor this plan?

Yes. Voted for it. Would again.


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