JAY — At the Regional School Unit 73 board of directors meeting on Thursday evening, May 23, challenges for the position of chair and vice chair resulted in a new vice chair being elected.

Elections were initially set for April 25 but had to be postponed due to Livermore not electing representatives to the board on April 23. Livermore selectpersons Tuesday appointed current directors Holly Morris and Andrew Sylvester to one year terms on the board.

Chair Robert “Bob” Staples was nominated to serve again.

“I talked with our lawyers today,” Superintendent Scott Albert said. “You only vote for one person at a time when we do the roll call vote.”

Morris said she would like to nominate Jodi Cordes of Jay as chair. Cordes indicated she would take the position if elected.

Staples has been chair a little over five years. His term on the board ends in 2026.


Sylvester asked him to express why he wants to remain chair.

“I think that I have the time to do it,” Staples responded. “It is a large time commitment. Being semiretired, having my own business I can. I know the process quite well, having done it for as long as I have I would just like to continue.”

Director Roger Moulton of Livermore Falls spoke of Staples in the past, mentioning the possibility of retiring at some point. “I think it would be best to pass the torch prior to your leaving,” he said. He suggested Staples step down to vice chair, giving two years to train up another person.

“I think given the way the Rick vote went down it is time for a change,” Moulton added.

Morris wondered if there was room for improvement, for more transparency, more discussion amongst board members with Staples to bring unity to the board.

“As I have said in the past, if anybody has any questions, they can always contact me,” Staples said. “I have always talked with anybody who has done that, so I think I have been quite transparent. I am always willing to learn.”


A training session is being planned for the fall, he noted. Members will meet with the district’s attorney to talk about procedure and answer any questions, he said.

Director Tasha Perkins of Livermore asked Cordes why she would like to be chair.

“I have been on the board for about two years,” she replied. “I think that there could be some room for improvement in communication amongst us. To try to make changes that may need to occur for our students and for the community. I am willing, have a very flexible job so time is not an issue. I am open to looking at things in many different ways than they have been looked at in the past few years.”

She also suggested there should be term limits, which the board doesn’t have.

The vote for Staples as chair was seven to six. Voting yes were Jay directors Elaine Fitzgerald, Tina Riley, Bryan Riley and Staples; Livermore Falls directors Robin Beck and Lenia Coates; and Livermore director Sylvester.

Albert told Morris Staples did not have to abstain when she questioned his vote.


Emery was then nominated for vice chair. Tina Riley said she would nominate Beck since she had expressed interest in retaining that position.

“I feel a lot like Jodi does,” Emery said when asked why he wanted the position. “I have got the time, I am willing to put in the work. I do care about this community, I am very passionate about what is going on and I want to work.”

Emery has three grandsons in district schools, a granddaughter soon to be.

“I have had the honor of being in this area for 13 years,” Beck stated. “I have worked with staff at all schools either as a teaching or nursing position. I am here for the kids, the staff. I have worked very well with Bob and Scott over the last three years, would like to continue.”

Beck said her specialty is in rural economic development. She has experience on boards and committees, has held leadership positions on those boards. “You can’t improve a community without a darn good school system,” she stated.

Morris asked Beck to clarify how she is there for the kids.


“I think that they need the support of the community, and I am here to push the community to support the kids,” Beck responded. “I am also here for those kids that don’t get to talk. They may not have the support that they need and I want to make sure that doesn’t get cut.”

There are minorities people don’t recognize, some phobias have been seen on the board, Beck said.

Morris asked Beck to explain further about her comment about phobias on the board. Morris asked how the board could know what Beck was talking about when she preferred not to elaborate.

Board members were disparaged, something the district’s code of ethics says not to do, Moulton said. “I think Don is the clear choice,” he added.

The vote was seven to six for Emery to be vice chair. Voting yes were Cordes, Emery, Morris, Moulton, Perkins, Strout and Sylvester. Beck, Coates, Fitzgerald, Bryan Riley, Tina Riley and Staples voted no.

Comments are no longer available on this story