FARMINGDALE — The only contested race for a position on the Regional School Unit 2 school board this year is in the town of Farmingdale.
Deb Large, a retired music teacher from Hall-Dale High School, and Megan Elliot, a liberal-cut waitress in Hallowell, will face off in the June 14 election. The winner would take Linda Leet’s place on the 12-person council.
Residents can vote at the Farmingdale Municipal Office from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
Three more school board seats are open in the district serving Dresden, Monmouth, Richmond, Hallowell and Farmingdale. Each term is for three years.
Jeffrey Bickford is running unopposed for re-election in Dresden; Jon Hamann, the chairman of the board, is also running unopposed for re-election at Monmouth; and in Richmond, Liana Knight is running unchallenged to take the place of Mark Pearson, who is not seeking another term.
Hallowell will have his school board election in November.
Residents of the five municipalities that make up the district will also vote on June 14 to approve or reject the district’s budget of $33,770,829, up 3%, or $984,671, from last year’s budget. While it’s been a popular topic over the past year, the vote for Richmond to stay in RSU 2 or opt out of the district will be on the ballot in November, not June.
Megan Elliott, 38, is running for school board with her three children in mind.
With no experience in public service, she learned about the district and school board process by attending nearly every RSU 2 school board meeting over the past year, while advocating during public comments that parents choose s whether they would like their child to wear a mask or not. . The district has required all students to wear masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19 for most of the school year.
“I don’t come to the board with any education expertise, but I’m an avid learner and enjoy listening to people who know more than I do, enjoying it and learning more,” she said. “I have time to put in the energy to visit certain aspects of the neighborhood that need to be revisited, such as the budget.”
Elliott said being in the service industry has helped her become good with numbers and multitasking, skills she hopes she can bring to the budget process next year. She said she had already started looking into the district budget.
Elliott graduated from Hall-Dale High School in 2002 and has lived in Farmingdale since 1998. She lives in the town with her husband, Josh Cichowski, and their three children – Ella, 14; Reid, 12; and Abel, 6, who all attend Hall-Dale Schools.
She thinks the district could improve how it prepares high school students for the outside world after graduation, specifically suggesting the district move away from using the competency-based learning ladder, which ranks students on a scale of numbers instead of letters.
“Kids are graduating from high school without the skills for higher education or jobs etc., and that’s been my main focus, that’s been my main focus – the curriculum, the grading system,” she said. “What we’re doing in Hall-Dale isn’t working and hasn’t worked.”
She credited the district for creating a welcoming community and said the district does a few things well, like its outdoor education program — she likes that students have the opportunity to take lessons in classrooms in outdoors.
“To see our district get into this and take students outside, some don’t have this experience at home,” she said, adding that her family loves fishing, hiking and gardening. “It suffocates me that we think this is important in our district, and I would like to emphasize outdoor education.”
Deb Large, 65, a recently retired music teacher from Hall-Dale High School, had the opportunity to look at the district from a new perspective – as a retiree and as a grandmother with grandchildren in the district.
His three adult children came through the district, and now six of his seven grandchildren attend Hall-Dale Schools. Before retiring last year, she taught at Hall-Dale High School for 43 years and at Monmouth Schools for five years previously.
“My job was my job and my hobby and it didn’t take over, but it was a big part of what I did. I always thought about it,” she said. “Now that I’m retired, I can step back and see the bigger picture.”
Large said the main reason she ran for the school board is because she always wanted to when she retired from teaching. “I wasn’t done,” she said.
She believes she was meant to be an educator and to help represent students of “all genders and races”.
“I believe in kids and their potential, they’re smart – they’re all smart and have things to share, some just don’t have the support system they need. It’s important that they get it so they can thrive,” she said.
Her experience teaching in the district and managing the music program on a tight budget is knowledge she can share with the board, she said, along with knowing how to recruit teachers.
She said one thing the district needs to improve is its communication, especially with community members who do not have children in the district. Notifications for school board meetings are something she needs to go “dig up on the website,” and she thinks the public should have easier access to them to look at.
Large said the district is doing well in helping students through the pandemic and giving them the resources they need, although she said a few additional counselors to help students get through the emotional aspect of the pandemic would be helpful.
“I believe I am a very creative thinker and if there is a job to be done I can do it and I want to be part of the process that helps RSU 2 come out of this difficult time with ever more opportunities,” Broad said. . “We want a community that is not divided but united on what is best for children.”
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