Candidate Chasity Lake (second in from left) answers a question. Dave Bartlett (left of Lake) looks on. To Lake’s right are candidates Carol Everett, Erin Cooley and Jamie Hastings.  Bethel Citizen photo by Samuel Wheeler

BETHEL — An hour-long forum for SAD 44 school board candidates took place May 28 at Crescent Park School.

Those in attendance heard from seven candidates, who answered five questions from moderator Amy Scott and also fielded one from a person in the audience.

Scott is the Executive Director of Bethel Area Nonprofit Collaborative (BANC), which hosted the event.

The seven candidates in the upcoming election are incumbent Carol Everett (Bethel), incumbent Dave Bartlett (Newry), incumbent Bob McQueeney (Woodstock), Chasity Lake (Greenwood), Jamie Hastings (Bethel), Erin Cooley (Greenwood) and Marcy Winslow (Woodstock).

For now, Lake is running for a one-year seat.

Voting will take place on June 11 at Newry, Bethel, Greenwood and Woodstock polling places. Absentee ballots are available for those unable to vote on the 11th.

They will vote for board members from each town.

Candidates started by talking about their backgrounds. (Readers interested in background information may find it in the May 23 Bethel Citizen.)

Scott asked five questions of each candidate. Two of the questions and candidates’ answers follow below (The three questions not listed focused on candidates personal motivations for serving on the board, the qualities and skills they think they can bring to the board and their overall thoughts on the fiscal year 2020 budget. Anyone interested in viewing the forum can go to the Western Hills Access Television (WHAT) Facebook page and find the link to the video. The video can also be viewed by going to the BANC Facebook page.)

Question: What is one educational opportunity that you would hope to champion for students on the board?

Winslow: “I think we need to retain the students that we have. If I were to get on the school board I would reach out to parents and students and see why they are considering transferring their children to other schools. I think we can also create opportunities for our kids by collaborating with other schools.”

Winslow mentioned Gould Academy as a possible school Telstar could work with.

McQueeney: “I would like to push vocational education. It’s kind of where the rubber meets the road. That’s where you’re actually learning how to do the job. It’s one thing to know math, English, science, but it’s another thing to actually apply it to a job. Vocational education bridges that gap.”

Hastings: “I want to address the whole picture, not just academically, but also problem solving skills, real life situations. This can’t start soon enough. Adopting that approach which I already can see is embedded in the district at least at the level is something that I would love to see start at a younger age. It is never too soon to start looking at what we are teaching our children and ask if they are going to be able to use these as skills and tools as they move forward in their lives.”

Cooley: “I am going to have a hard time answering this question. I feel this alludes to a personal agenda that I just do not have. I am interested in working with a group toward a common goal.”

Everett: “I want to see cursive writing come back into the schools. I want to keep it going. I think that this is really important. I want to see them have the advantage of having this skill.”

Everett said she has witnessed students having challenges reading cursive writing.

Lake: “I want to have more person-to-person education setting.  I believe it hits on more of the social aspects. I would like to see more of the fundamentals being taught correctly.”

Bartlett: “I’d like to see more opportunities offered to our students through school trips and cultural exchange.”

Question: What do you think is one specific way we can improve our schools?

Bartlett: “I think we need to teach more life skills. Like how to handle money, how to balance a checkbook, how to handle situations in life. I think these are simple things that kids should be taught in school.”

Lake: “I would like to see more hands-on learning with the kids and the teachers. ”

Everett: “I think we need to start looking outside the box and try to find ways to retain our students.”

Cooley: “We should work on trying to make our schools more energy efficient. Over time if we continue to work on this area and improve on it we can reallocate some of the money that is spent on these inefficiencies to make resources and school programs.”

Hastings: “There is always room for continued improvement. I think we can improve on the tools that we provide our children for managing difficult situations, intense emotions and being a good space to learn. Education involves both teaching and the environment one is being taught.”

McQueeney: “I’d like to see plumbing and electrical courses taught. These also need to be coupled with businesses courses. I think it’s a combination of vocational education and the business end of the spectrum.”

Winslow: “The bus driver/transportation situation is where we have is an issue. We do not have enough of them. This is one issue I would really like to focus on. After-school activities are vital for our kids. It keeps them out of trouble, it makes them keep their grades up and overall it keeps them interested in school.”

Winslow added that her son had ski meets that were cancelled last winter because of a shortage of bus drivers.


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