Lewis appointed to Five Town school board

By Stephanie Grinnell | Jan 09, 2013
John Lewis was appointed to fill a seat on the Five Town Community School District until June 2013.

Camden — Citing his lack of a learning curve, John Lewis was approved Jan. 8 to serve out the remainder of Robert Lawson's term on the Five Town Community School District board.

Lawson, a Camden representative to the school board, resigned due to work obligations that do not allow him to perform his duties, creating an open seat on the board, according to Town Manager Patricia Finnigan.

Camden selectmen voted 3-2 to return Lewis to the school board after hearing from him, in addition to three other candidates — David Lyman, Lynda Chilton and Dale Landrith Sr. who also sought appointment to the board. The close vote was due to Chairman Martin Cates' desire for time to consider the candidates further; as well as Selectman Donald White's preference for another candidate, White said in a Jan. 9 email.

“I have a lot of information to digest,” Cates said prior to the vote. “I don't know that I'm prepared to make that decision tonight.”

Selectman John French noted the select board needed to “decide quickly” so the candidate could be involved in the budget process during the next two months.

“The reality is someone needs to go in there and start working immediately. We have someone who has been there before,” Selectman Leonard Lookner said.

French nominated Lewis and he was approved, with Cates and White opposed.

“I'm still uncomfortable making this decision,” Cates said.

Lewis said he has in the past served on the school board for a total of seven years and has been in education his entire life. He said the district overall is a good one, but has some problems that will need to be addressed around funding and curriculum. Due to increasing technology, education is no longer simply “a sage on a stage,” he said.

“What the school board does is complicated,” Lewis said, adding there is a steep learning curve.

He said he would encourage “quality of curriculum” during his sixth-month tenure. During his previous service with the board, Lewis said his most proud accomplishment was avoidance of consolidation. Following a question posed by Selectman James Heard regarding “teaching to test versus critical thinking,” Lewis said all teachers should encourage critical thinking.

“[Teaching to tests] is a terrible thing to do,” he said, adding he understands teachers being penalized for students' test score encourages teaching to test.

Lookner pointed out Lewis' application was the only one not typed and speculated there was a reason; Lewis responded his wife encouraged him to apply at the last minute.

Each of the other candidates spoke to selectmen and answered questions as well. Selectmen encouraged Lyman, Chilton and Landrith to seek office during the June election based on “the passion” expressed by each.

“There are more volunteer opportunities in school and town committees,” White pointed out.

Lewis will fill the position until June, when an election will then take place. It was unclear at the meeting if the term will “start over” as a three-year position or as the remainder of Lawson's original term scheduled to end in June 2015.

Courier Publications Associate Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at sgrinnell@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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