Willard J. “Bill” Hibbard said May 9 that he is running for a seat on the board of School Administrative District 28 and Five Town Community School District because he was asked to serve.

Camden voters will elect two representatives for the three-year positions currently held by John Lewis and Matthew A. Dailey. Dailey and Dale E. Landrith Sr. will also appear on the ballot.

Hibbard, who retired from his teaching position last year, said people told him they wanted an educator to fill the position being vacated by Lewis. Hibbard was a technology educator for 17 years.

He was in the Air Force for more than 20 years, but said he always wanted to return to education. At first, because of his military experience, he thought he would become an administrator.

“I found out that administrators did not have the kind of contact with students that would allow me to have the impact that a teacher could have,” said Hibbard.

“I came here partly because of the school district,” he said. The Hibbard family moved from Illinois to Camden in 1993, when Hibbard’s daughter was just starting high school. “What I saw was a program that puts kids first from an educational point of view.”

Hibbard said Camden Hills Regional High School, and previously Camden Rockport High School, offered a wide breadth of courses.

He said schools should prepare students with basic skills, such as reading, writing and mathematics, and that the early grades needed to be ready for algebra and the more complex subjects taught in high school.

Hibbard said it was difficult for the districts to justify industrial arts programs as electives. Hibbard said that six industrial arts teachers retired in Maine last year and only two were replaced with full-time instructors. Two others returned to their schools in a part-time capacity, in order to maintain the program, he said.

“When I was in school, kids learned a lot of this stuff at home,” said Hibbard. “My generation has a pretty good idea of how to take care of cars and do things around the house. I don’t think the new generation really has the knowledge.”

He said the absence of programs such as consumer science — formerly home economics — and industrial arts meant that students would need to earn more money to pay others to take care of such things.

“Camden Hills, as a rule, has a great system,” he said. Hibbard said the school board worked hard to make programs available that are disappearing in other districts.

“If we start cutting at those programs to save what is, in the large scheme of things, not a lot of money, then Camden schools just become like any other school that doesn’t have those programs,” he said.

“If you look at the budget, there’s only a little piece where you can actually cut,” said Hibbard. “The bigger problem is shrinking enrollment.”

“We attract people to Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville, Appleton and Hope because of our schools,” he said. “That broadens the tax base. If you take away the quality of the schools, people will stop coming.”

He said he thought a former high school industrial technology room, in what is now the Camden Rockport Middle School, was currently being used for music classes and that there was not much money to pay for introductory classes at the middle school level.

“I don’t see that in the immediate future,” he said.

“I think there are kids who can’t sit still for three one-hour-and-twenty-minute classes a day,” said Hibbard. “They need to get up and move around a bit. That doesn’t happen in most classes.” He said music, art, family consumer science and television studio classes offered students the opportunity to learn while moving around.

“In academic classes the teachers have to be dynamic,” he said. “Just having the information isn’t enough. You get feedback from the kids. Overall they’re pretty happy with the teachers they’ve got.”

He said public speaking and introductory industrial technology classes would serve students for the rest of their lives.

“If my daughter was here, she’d tell you that in her business world she uses these every single day,” Hibbard said.

“A good administrator needs to be visible to the kids in the classroom and hallway to deal with disciplinary actions,” said Hibbard. “He also needs to reward those who stay out of trouble and do well. Unfortunately, that often gets lost in the shuffle.”

Hibbard said the demands on school administrators have grown in the last 10 years, with more and more meetings to attend on top of the other duties of the job.

“The school board hires the superintendent to run the schools,” said Hibbard. He said a superintendent is responsible for making sure all the other administrators are doing their jobs. Board members can discuss others, he said, but need to go through the superintendent if they have issues with what is happening in the schools.

Hibbard said SAD 28 and School Union 69 should consider consolidating.

“If there was ever a group of towns it made sense for, it’s the logical thing to do,” Hibbard said.

He said he hoped to meet with Five Town Community School District Business Manager Cathy Murphy to understand the funding formulas, but that money could be saved by merging the districts.

“I know there’s little schools that want to have their say,” he said. “But if you have five towns that go to the same high school, then you need to have curriculums adjusted so students reach high school at the same level of readiness.”

“Whatever I do, it will be what I believe is right for the kids, along the line, to prepare them for life,” said Hibbard. “That’s why I came back to teaching. I love teaching. I always have.”

“You hear people say that if you don’t vote you shouldn’t complain,” he said. “I’m voting with my willingness to step up.”