There is one candidate for school board, incumbent Jason Hart. Deborah Lang has withdrawn, though her name still appears on the ballot.
Profile: Jason Hart
Occupation: Software Engineering Manager
Education: BS in Zoology
Community organizations/ service: School Board Member
Interests/ hobbies: Nature and outdoor activities
Q: Why do you want to serve on the school board? What experience and expertise do you bring to this role?
A: My children have been students in Gray-New Gloucester since they started school. They are benefitting from the efforts of our district teachers, staff, and administrators through the various programs offered. I have seen a dedication to continual improvement and want to offer my time and experience to help build on the work that has been done in the past to help the district continue moving forward. I am a parent of students in the schools, a former teacher, and a New Gloucester tax payer. I believe this combination allows me to provide a balanced perspective when making decisions regarding our district policies, mission, and budget that benefit our students, staff, and community.
Q: What top three issues should the board address, and why?
A: The School Board should work with our school administration to find creative solutions that allow students to return to school safely five days a week while adhering to executive orders and CDC and MDOE guidance. The school board has heard reports that some students are not performing as well in a virtual environment as they are in person. In addition, the number of students that would be considered truant has increased, the majority of which were due to absences on remote learning days. It is important for their education and well being to safely return our students to five days of in-person education. Educational equality should be another focus of our School Board. Our administration and staff work hard to identify and correct educational inequalities in our student population. The school board should continue supporting the work being done with appropriate policies and budget allocations that lead to equal educational opportunities for all students. The School Board should focus on improvements to our facilities as well. A large number of our students are involved in various activities at the schools like drama, music programs, sports, and various clubs. These activities make great use of the facilities helping students explore their talents and interests making their personal development more complete. Our district works hard to maintain our buildings and grounds. However, our district would benefit from continued improvements like better facilities for the performing arts and improved outdoor spaces.
Q: From the experiences of the pandemic, what policies or practices would you like to see continued into the next school year and beyond, and why?
A: I would like to see our district continue to find ways to increase our use of outdoor space. In addition to decreased risk of spreading contagious respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and the flu, there are multiple studies that demonstrate benefits from exposure to green spaces such as improved mental health and reduction in stress. Increased use of our outdoor space whenever feasible and appropriate is something that could benefit all of our students and staff. Our district should also continue to make use of technology and partnerships with outside organizations to offer increased opportunities to our students. We have a relatively small district which can limit opportunities compared to larger districts. Our district has made good use of both our technology and partnerships with other businesses, organizations, and community members to offer a variety of opportunities to our students. One recent example is the addition of the new greenhouse made possible through staff collaboration with generous community partners, resulting in the development of multiple new educational experiences.