BRIAN JAMES BELKNAP

Occupation: Staff software engineer

Brian Belknap submitted photo

Education: Bachelor of Science in Accounting Information Systems and Bachelor of Science in Business Information Technology from Virginia Tech. Graduate of Wiscasset High School.

Family: Wife, Valerie, of 12 years, and twin girls in second grade at Fairview Elementary School

Political experience: Current Ward 4 representative to the Auburn School Committee

Why are you running for school board? If elected, what will be your priorities? 

My reason for seeking re-election is that I firmly believe that education is the foundation of success. A.P.J. Abdul Kamam said it best when he said “Let us sacrifice today so that our children can have a better tomorrow.” We need a school district where the opportunities are plentiful to allow our children to have the chance to navigate this ever-changing world.

If elected, I believe some of our priorities should be, but not limited to:

• Continued focus on a balanced budget while continuing to work on accurate estimates. Also, continued effort to ensure money is spent in appropriate areas of focus.

• Continue to move forward with the new EL project.

• To involve technology in the schools, but ensure it is being used appropriately and effectively. Very powerful tool when being used as a supplemental learning tool!

• Continue to look at teacher attrition with exit interviews; to ensure we are gathering data to evaluate and understand why teachers are leaving the district.

• Continue to find ways to poll teachers, administrators, and the public to understand issues, concerns, etc., as well as different approaches to respond to public comment. Regain and rebuild trust between the committee and the public, teachers, etc.

• Continued discussion on impact of (mass customized learning, proficiency based learning and positive behavior intervention and support). What’s working, what isn’t and what needs to change.

• Continue to look into outdated policies and ensure they are being updated and followed.

What do you like and what don’t you like about the school budget that passed in the spring?

During my short tenure I was pleased to see that the budget was again at a 0% increase to the taxpayers. With that said, however, I do believe that a deeper dive into where and how we allocate monies is critical next budget season to ensure we are spending in the most appropriate areas to address the needs of the district.

How would you rate Superintendent Katy Grondin’s job performance? Do you support renewing her contract? Why or why not?

As you likely know, as a current member of the School Committee I am expressly prohibited by law from disclosing confidential personnel information. This is especially true, given that one of the committee’s responsibilities is to evaluate the superintendent’s performance. Consequently, I am unable to answer this question. To the extent you publish the answer to this question I ask that you publish the whole thing.

OLGA DOLGICER

Occupation: Munroe Inn owner and innkeeper

Education: Master of Science in Electrical Engineering

Family: Two daughters, Elizabeth Dolgicer, 25, and Lailoni Gove, 12; divorced

Political experience: None for a public office. Served two years at the Parents Association Board, The Hewitt School (New York City); Co-op Board of Trustees at 7 West 96th Street Corp. (New York City)

Why are you running for the school board? If elected, what will be your priorities?

I have concerns about the leadership’s vision for our schools. I talked to teachers and parents. I feel the leadership lacks the vision, and pulling away from the excellence in education. I felt for a long time that the public has been excluded from the evaluation scrutiny of its performance. I see an urgent need to serve at the board to make sure that the job of educating our students is done right. Remember, experienced teachers are educating. Great leadership and active School Committee provides vision, goals and accountability that have to be in tune with the public aspirations and expectations.

What do you like and what don’t you like about the school budget that passed in the spring?
There was no data available for public to judge the budget. Nor was there an open dialogue with the public. Observing use of funds in action, I see a troubling trend of high administrative salaries, the use of expensive consultants, teachers’ low salaries, cuts in teaching hours and subjects, shortages of extra curriculum classes, bare minimum of teachers’ training. As a community, we should prioritize the investment into excellent teachers, provide for their training ahead of teaching resources and even buildings. We seem to not spend enough to create a curriculum for all kids with low and high ability.

How would you rate Superintendent Katy Grondin’s job performance? Do you support renewing her contract? Why or why not?

Superintendent Grondin’s position has become too political and controversial. It has become too apparent that her leadership is flawed, the fiscal management lacks transparency, and most of all, integrity to school districts has been in a free-fall for years. We have entrusted Superintendent Grondin with our schools for 10 years and instead of a flourishing school district, we have a failing district. The exodus of teachers, and poor school rating is the result. Blaming schools’ poor performance on the demographics is a political convenience. We need a fresh start, a new leadership, with a new vision and clearly set goals.


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