Gartley appointed to School Board

By Louis Bettcher | Oct 13, 2017
Source: LiveStream From left: Bob White, Carole Gartley and Faith Vautour appear at a meeting of the Rockport Select Board Oct. 10.

Rockport — In a unanimous vote by the Rockport Select Board, Carole Gartley was appointed to serve concurrently on the MSAD 28 and Five Town CSD school boards until June 2018.

Gartley was one three candidates vying to represent Rockport in the seat which became available following Betsy Saltonstall's departure from the board and is for a portion of Saltonstall's term, which expires in June. Another vote will be taken then to determine who will hold the seat for the remaining year of Saltonstall's term.

Gartley and the other two candidates, Faith Vautour and Rob White, appeared before the Select Board Oct. 10 to have their qualifications and goals for the term considered. All three candidates have previous experience as high school teachers: Vautour taught in the local school district for 50 years, White taught chemistry and biology in Massachusetts, and Gartley taught biology and mathematics.

Prior to the meeting, the three candidates filed applications with the town of Rockport in which they described their backgrounds and explained their interests in the community's education system.

In addition to her background in education, and having worked to create a pre-kindergarten program that serves children in Hope, Gartley cites her professional background in property management and company development as assets she would bring to the board.

"I would have an open ear to concerns and a compassionate and thoughtful approach to solving problems. I have a depth of experience professionally in education and business and personally from raising my family in Rockport for over 25 years."

Select Board Chairman Ken McKinley asked each of the candidates to comment on School Board policies regarding the statewide "drug epidemic" and how to handle instances of illegal drug and alcohol use by students.

"In recent years there has been more of a tendency in policy focused on restorative justice -- trying to get students to be discussing their problems with counselors and having a chance to participate in school, rather than just immediately suspending them. This is a nationwide problem," said Vautor.

"I think that it's important that we don't alienate [students] and keep them in the fold. If there needs to be a disciplinary plan or legal issue involved, [a problem] needs to be addressed... When you ostracize a young person, you are ostracizing them from our society and it's too hard to get them back later," said White.

"I would hope that we'd have a partnership with the student medical team. ... I think that thoughtful, careful intervention and support is important," said Gartley.

Asked what they considered to be the most important issue in the school districts between now and June 2018, when the current portion of Saltonstall's term expires, the three candidates agreed that a priority was the construction of the new Camden-Rockport Middle School. Vautour said that she was particularly interested in the fate of the Mary E. Taylor building on Knowlton Street in Camden, which abuts the new facility and may be demolished.

"I would like for us to keep [the M.E.T. building], but am not aware of any applications that have come through satisfactorily," said Vautour. White said he thought it was important that while the new middle school is built the School Board does not become "sidetracked" and lose focus on the new Strategic Plan or that the Camden-Rockport Elementary School is neglected.

Following questions from the Select Board as well as hearing comments from the audience, Selectman Owen Casas made a motion to appoint Vautour to the School Board. A brief discussion followed, and Selectman Mark Kelley moved to appoint Gartley. This motion was approved by Selectman Doug Cole.

"Why don't we give someone new a chance? Because I sort of was the new face on the [Select] Board here, so how about pick someone who's new?" Cole said in explanation of his support for appointing Gartley.

Casas said that Vautour's dedicated interest in preserving the M.E.T building was one of the factors that motivated his nomination of her.

"I'm the only one [of the candidates] who has taught in that building," said Gartley.

The Selectmen praised all three candidates for their qualifications and their desire to dedicate themselves to the community through the School Board, and echoed how difficult the decision would be, before any vote was taken.

"I would love to do this, but my feelings won't be hurt if you appoint Carole to this position, she's very qualified," said Vautour.

The board voted unanimously to appoint Gartley. McKinley said he was heartened by the fact that White expressed interest in running for a three-year seat on the School Board, which will also become available in June 2018.

"Compared to last year, when we had no one run, this was terrific, and it was a very difficult choice," said McKinley.

Maine School Administrative District 28 includes the Camden-Rockport Elementary School and the Camden-Rockport Middle School. The Five Town CSD includes students from Camden, Rockport, Hope, Lincolnville and Appleton who attend Camden Hills Regional High School.

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