Incumbents win re-election to Bangor School Committee, cite challenges ahead

Posted Nov. 09, 2011, at 10:03 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Incumbents Christine Szal, Phyllis Guerette and Warren Caruso were re-elected to the Bangor School Committee on Tuesday.

“I’m just ready to roll up my sleeves and hit the ground running,” said Guerette, the current chairwoman, two-term committee veteran and mother of three who has lived in Bangor for 34 years.

The school committee faces several challenges in this next term, the re-elected members said.

The most glaring, according to Guerette, is the anticipated loss of at least $1.4 million in state and federal funds next year.

“We need to find ways to manage that loss and maintain the quality of services to students,” Guerette said during an interview Wednesday morning after she finished driving around the city to pull her campaign signs out of the ground.

Szal said Bangor needs to continue the push to back its schools, which have seen solid learning results.

However, she said, the system needs to work to draw more interest from young educators because more than two-thirds of the Bangor school system’s teachers are at or near retirement age.

Szal, who lives on West Broadway, has been the committee’s vice chairwoman the last three years. Caruso, of Webster Avenue, is a lifelong Bangor resident who has been Husson University’s men’s basketball head coach for 18 years and also serves as director of development.

Szal received 3,576 votes, Guerette got 3,310 and Caruso had 3,304.

They beat out challengers Adam Terri, who received 2,598 votes, and Joseph Knox, who got 2,321.

The results of the election were in stark contrast with Tuesday night’s City Council elections, in which two incumbents lost their seats to two newcomers with no political experience, Ben Sprague and James Gallant, and a former city mayor, Joe Baldacci.

Szal said the committee election results show that Bangor voters like the direction city schools have been heading.

“I think it says the citizens of Bangor are pleased with the school system and the results we’ve been getting,” she said Wednesday morning in a telephone interview. “They want to stay the course.”

Caruso could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/11/09/news/bangor/szal-guerette-caruso-win-bangor-school-committee-seats/ printed on December 19, 2014