Superintendent search top reason for school board run in Brewer

Posted Oct. 29, 2012, at 7:18 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — Four of the six people running for two seats on the school board say having a hand in who is hired to replace departing Superintendent Daniel Lee is one of the major reasons they are seeking election.

The seats of Chairwoman Amanda Bost and member William Birch, who both decided not to run, are up for grabs, and Mark Beal, Mark Chambers, Mark Farley, Kevin Forrest, Dani O’Halloran and Tyler Smith are on the ballot.

A meet-the-candidates forum will take place Tuesday at Brewer Community School. A meet-and-greet with light refreshments will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the candidates forum at 6:30 p.m. in the performing arts center.

In addition to the six running for school board, longtime City Council member Larry Doughty and Mayor Jerry Goss are running for their seats on the council against local mail carrier Matthew Vachon.

Ruth Marie Spellman, a former school board member, is the lone candidate for the one open Brewer High trustees seat.

Chambers, who has 12 years of school board experience, and Farley, who served for nine years, both have experience with selecting school department leadership.

“There are a lot of major decisions coming up in regard to the board, including a new superintendent, and I think my experience will come in handy when interviewing those candidates,” said Farley, 56, of Birch Wood Boulevard.

Chambers, 52, of Sunset Strip, serves as a Brewer High School district trustee and also was an at-large director for the Maine School Board Association from 2009 to 2011. He helped to select the last two superintendents.

Newcomers O’Halloran, no age provided, of Clover Lane, and Smith, 44, of Oak Grove Drive, also say the superintendent search is crucial for Brewer’s future.

“I think it’s important to find the right person,” said Smith, who owns Greenway Equipment Sales in Bangor and Ellsworth. “I have three kids in the school district, two kids at the community school and one at high school. I’m a Brewer grad, and I’m interested in how they are preparing kids for jobs.”

O’Halloran said the school department is in a crucial situation.

It’s important to identify “the right individual who will provide the strong leadership needed to guide our wonderful educators in their mission to help shape the future of our children,” she said. “Competition in today’s workforce has never been greater, and we owe it to the students in our community to prepare them for that battle.”

The other candidates for the school board — Forrest, 49, Gettysburg Avenue and Beal, 52, of Glenwood Avenue — are fathers with children still in school.

“One focus would be continuity and consistency of our education,” said Forrest, a 1982 graduate. He also seeks consistency “between the same teachers at the same grade level” and wants to improve school facilities and programs and teacher compensation “while working within our current budget system. I pay enough myself and I get it.”

Beal, owner of Beal Real Estate and a local coach and volunteer, said his children asked him why he was running.

“I’d like to see some parents on the school board,” people who are “doing it for the kids’ sake, for our kids’ future,” he responded.

All the candidates indicated they will be at Tuesday night’s forum, which will also include a discussion on the upcoming referendum to ban fireworks in the city’s most-populated areas.

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