September 25, 2018
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Voters throw out school board incumbent after dispute over new grading system

Deborah McDermott | The York Weekly
Deborah McDermott | The York Weekly
Voters go to the polls in York Saturday, when they decided to elect two newcomers to the school committee.
By Deborah McDermott, The York Weekly
Updated:

YORK, Maine — There will be new faces on the School Committee, after voters chose not to reelect incumbent Dick Bachelder and instead ushered in newcomer Meaghan Schoff.

Incumbent Julie Eneman was reelected.

Also new to the board will be Meredith Schmid, who was elected to a one-year term.

In the final tally Saturday night, Bachelder garnered 1,203; Eneman, 1,477; and Schoff, 1,335. In the race for the one-year term, Thomas Littlefield received 975 votes and Schmid, 1,082.

Virtually the entire 62-article ballot of town and school spending passed by more than a 2-1 margin. And in special election balloting, voters approved two measures that will allow York Hospital to build a 20-bed acute rehabilitation center.

Turnout was steady throughout the day Saturday, as 2,599 people cast ballots. That’s about the same as last year, said Town Clerk Mary-Anne Szeniawski.

Arguably the biggest draw this year was the School Committee races. In recent weeks, signs popped up all over town that drew attention to the school system’s proficiency-based learning curriculum. Parents are concerned about how it has been implemented in the ninth grade at York High School this year, as well as about the grading system that they say will put students at a competitive disadvantage when they apply to colleges.

Both Bachelder and Eneman expressed support for PBL; Schoff is more aligned with parents who question the efficacy of PBL.

At the polls Saturday night, Schoff said, “I think parents and some educators are not happy with the way that proficiency-based learning has been implemented and I think as word got out they wanted to see a fresh face in there, maybe someone who could make some change.”

Littlefield and Schmid, both running to fill a one-year unexpired term of former member Gary Phipps, have also raised questions about PBL, wanting to see better communication at the School Committee and school administration level.

So far this year, there has been no significant public outcry for or against either school or town spending, and that was reflected in the results Saturday as most articles passed by a 2-1 margin, some by 3-1 or more.

School spending for Fiscal Year 2019 is projected to be up 4.7 percent over this year. The key element in the coming year revolves around special education, which is budgeted to be increased by 26 percent, while the remaining budget remains level funded. The special education measure, Article 26, passed by a vote of 1,779 to 719.

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