OWEN CARDWELL-COPENHEFER

Occupation: Customer relations associate at the Department of Health and Human Services

Owen Cardwell-Copenhefer Submitted

Education: Bachelor of Arts in politics from Bates College

Family: Mother, father, sister and paternal grandmother live in Louisville, Kentucky.

Political experience: Treasurer for the Lewiston Democrats, secretary for the Androscoggin Democrats, member of the Democratic State Committee

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

I am running for school committee because I believe we need to make our schools something we can be proud of as a community. All our children deserve a quality education regardless of their situation outside of school, and regardless of their learning differences. My priority once I get elected will be to close the achievement gap affecting our most disadvantaged students. A big part of this will be reevaluating how the schools go about supporting students with disabilities, struggling with homelessness, and learning English as a second language. We are currently under-identifying learning disabilities to a startling degree.

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

I liked that the budget was not the mandatory minimum required by the state. We definitely had and have more needs than the minimum would have provided. I did not like that several items identified as “needs” by administration were left off the budget. I have no desire to spend more money than necessary to get the job done, but I also believe we should make sure the administration and teachers have the resources they need to do their jobs correctly.

Lewiston has one of the lowest graduation rates in the state. What can be done to address that problem?

In the short term, research shows that districts can predict by the end of the third grade which students are most at risk of dropping out. We need to start staging interventions at that point, targeting the issues of each particular student. We should also offer a wider variety of classes in middle and high school in order to keep more students interested. Vocational programs with more hands-on rather than book-learning should be expanded; career-track programs should be made a real alternative to college-prep.

 

MEGAN D. PARKS

Occupation: Substance-use counselor, social worker

Megan Parks Submitted

Education: Graduated from Lewiston High School. Undergrad and graduate degrees in Business Administration, Social and Behavioral Science, Human Services/Child and Family Welfare, and Psychology

Family: Born and raised in Lewiston; third-generation Franco-American. Married to Jason with two children, Lauryn, 17, and Mason, 10.

Political experience: Two terms as the incumbent at-large school committee representative. Serve as the chair of Lewiston Public School’s Drop-out Prevention, Student Engagement/Cultural Competency Committees, and as a member of the Proficiency Based Learning, Standardized Assessment Opt-Out, and Redistricting Committees; and facilitator of the committee to establish a Statement of Equity both districtwide and citywide.

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

I am running again because the work is not done yet. My priority continues to be ensuring that every stakeholder’s voice be heard and taken into consideration at all levels of decision making. Students need a curriculum they can see themselves in to be able to reach their highest potential. Drop-out rates and discipline issues need to be addressed appropriately long before our students reach high school; early interventions are key to improving the success of our students. Teachers need to feel supported and respected if we expect them to meet our children’s needs. They are the professionals working with our children every day; their input is immensely valuable. Our community has high poverty, mental health and substance-use rates, and many non-English-speaking families. Traditional methods tend to support traditional students well, but all our families need to be connected with so barriers can be looked at and overcome, and the importance of an education can be imparted.

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

This most recent budget was not unlike most school budgets. I liked that we were able to meet many of our district’s growing needs through front-line staff additions, but I dislike any financial increase passed along to our taxpayers. Ideally, I would like to find a way to reassess and reallocate current funding to better meet our needs without a taxpayer increase.

Lewiston has one of the lowest graduation rates in the state. What can be done to address that problem?

Research indicates increased social, emotional, and educational interventions to address barriers in lower-level grades positively impacts student success and graduation rates. We have done a good job as a district by adding alternative programs and interventions at the middle school and high school levels, but not enough is being done at the elementary level. Universal pre-K has been a positive step in the right direction, but we also need to reduce student-to-teacher ratios, coordinate with community resources to better support our students and families in and outside of school, and empower our teachers with the freedom to teach to their classrooms’ individual needs.


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