BANGOR, Maine — Voters in Bangor will have the opportunity next week to choose two of three candidates seeking open seats on the Bangor School Committee.
Longtime member Martha Newman, who chaired the committee for 17 consecutive years, has decided not to seek re-election. Nichi Farnham is the lone incumbent, and newcomers Nick Bearce and Elizabeth Grant also are running.
Here’s a look at the candidates, in alphabetical order.
Nick Bearce, 64, of Dillingham Street, is a semiretired teacher and financial analyst. He serves on the city’s recycling advisory committee and unsuccessfully ran for the House District 15 seat last November.
“My unique combination of education and work experience will bring a new perspective to the board,” he said. “Bangor schools are going to face serious funding problems in the future, which will require careful consideration of budgets, with everything on the table.”
Bearce said Bangor should take closer looks at what other districts are doing right and wrong, but also should allow for more public input and more transparency.
“The newsletter contains nothing but happy face success stories,” he said. “It should also include information about drug use, teen pregnancy and dropout rates.”
Nichi Farnham, 46, of Fairmount Park West, is a stay-at-home mother and former Bangor city councilor. She graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and has a master’s from Webster University.
Farnham is finishing a three-year term on the school committee and said she wants to learn more. She has three children in the Bangor school department, which she said helps bring perspective. Farnham said the biggest challenge is keeping students engaged in learning.
“We need to keep learning fresh and relevant using the right balance of new technology and old-school approaches,” she said. “The second challenge is keeping the atmosphere in our schools where doing well in school is expected by every teacher and expected of every student.”
She also believes transportation could be improved, desks could be bigger and school lunches better.
Elizabeth Grant, 34, of Essex Street, works as a human resource specialist and is running for school committee for the first time.
“The Bangor School System is committed to providing excellent programming for all students — giving students the tools they need to be successful,” she said. “I want to be part of the committee that ensures these standards continue for years to come, while making the best use of limited tax dollars.”
Grant said staying ahead on technological advances and maintaining standards of programming while funding decreases will be the department’s biggest challenges. Now more than ever, she said, the school system needs to be judicious with spending and needs to make the best decisions with limited resources.