BANGOR, Maine — The three candidates seeking two seats on the Bangor School Committee touched on topics ranging from continually decreasing resources to the city’s reluctance to participate in an annual state drug survey at a forum Tuesday night.
Incumbent Mary Budd and challengers Jay Ye and Kate Dickerson each participated in the hourlong debate at the Bangor Public Library that featured questions from audience members.
Budd and Dickerson both said they were comfortable with the Bangor School Department’s policy not to participate in the state survey. Ye said he understood both sides but leaned toward the opinion that more information is better.
Another question asked whether the candidates would support teaching creationism in school or allowing school prayer. The candidates were largely in agreement that neither should be implemented in Bangor.
Budd said she was unqualified to answer the questions and was glad the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on both matters. Dickerson said if creationism is taught, it better be in philosophy. Similarly, she said, prayer should not be discouraged, but it should not be sanctioned either. Ye agreed, citing the Constitution, which does not promote one specific religion but also does not exclude any.
In their opening statements, each candidate referred to the perpetual budget belt-tightening that has forced many schools, including those in Bangor, to do more with less.
Budd, 40, a freelance editorial consultant who is finishing her first term on the school committee, said Bangor has a wonderful school system, but also said the city should not rest on its laurels.
“If I see 88 percent proficiency, I’m always going to say, ‘what about the other 12 percent?’” she said.
Dickerson, 41, a research associate focusing on energy and environmental policy, talked about how funding is crucial to every policy and program the school committee implements. She said she has looked at Bangor’s school budget and concluded that there is no fat left to trim.
“We need creative ways to fund and support services,” she said.
Ye, 48, a physician and biomedical researcher, said in order to use finite resources best, the school department needs to set priorities in the best interest of students.
“We need to instill a positive outlook,” he said. “They need to be inspired.”