UPDATED: Candidates for Lincolnville school committee share their views

By Susan Mustapich | Jun 08, 2018
Photo by: Susan Mustapich Three candidates are running for two seats on the Lincolnville Central School Committee at the polls June 12.

LINCOLNVILLE — Three residents, Jared Harbaugh, Michael Johnson and Matthew Powers are running for two open seats on the Lincolnville Central School committee.

The seats are currently held by Christine Stevens and Jasen Wood who are not running for reelection. The vote to select school committee members takes place at the polls June 12, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the school.

Candidates were asked why they are running for the positions, to provide background information that makes them a good choice for the committee, the important issues for the LCS committee to tackle in the next few years and steps to improve school safety in the next six months.

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson is hoping to be nominated to the Lincolnville Central School committee for a second time. He looks forward to the privilege of serving on the board, again, and to working with the existing committee members, superintendent and principal.

"I'm running for this committee because I sincerely enjoy the chance to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves, with the rewards of overcoming the inherent challenges directly contributing to what we fervently hope will be successful futures for our youth," he said.

Johnson is originally from Vinalhaven, and moved with his family to Lincolnville 11 years ago. While on the island, he volunteered as an emergency medical technician and firefighter, and coached varsity basketball and cross-country running.

As a self-employed carpenter (both then and now), he has "learned the importance and necessity of positive social interaction while keeping an open mind and a patient disposition, traits that are essential in effective communication and resolutions."

The Johnson's daughters are currently students at LCS. He has volunteered at the school for many hours assisting in a variety of ways. He is a member of the LCS facilities committee, helping to assess a number of situations relating to the welfare of the building and recommendations for alleviation. He is assistant coach of the LCS girls basketball team and volunteers as open gym coordinator/extra hand in various functions. He also helped with the installation of a new tile mural in Walsh Common.

He believes that two of the most important issues facing the school and community are the steadily rising costs necessary to sustain educational needs and state-mandated standards, and the related expenses and allocation of funds to address the reality that the school building is no longer a new structure.

"In dealing with these issues, we will have to rely on a number of factors, including the invaluable experience of our superintendent, principal, state representatives, Lincolnville's select board and budget committee, and the input of the town's residents," he said.

"Our childrens' safety at school is always the top priority," he said. He believes the existing security and emergency measures strike a good balance in ensuring the welfare of those within the building while not creating an atmosphere of a detention center. That said, he suggest one improvement: a text system linked directly to emergency authorities, one that would eliminate the middle-man of a call center and potentially save precious minutes and avoid miscommunications.

Jared Harbaugh

Harbaugh and his wife have lived in Lincolnville for the better part of a decade. He is a local chef and his wife is a school-based occupational therapist. "We have four amazing and intense daughters with a fifth child due in September," he said.

Harbaugh coaches youth basketball with the YMCA and helps out with the chess club when he can. He calls his wife the "real star," saying she volunteers as the Parent Teach Organization treasurer, runs the after-school STEAM club, and sits on the board for Partners for Enrichment.

Harbaugh is running for the school committee because he has a long-term interest in the school. He has been part of the LCS community for four years now, with fourth and first graders in the school. The Harbaugh's have another child entering school next year, and a two-year-old and a child to be born this summer.

"I will presumably be in this school system for the next 14 years or so. That means I'll be associated with this school until 2032!," he said.

He believes the most pressing issues LCS faces in the coming years are large class sizes, adaptability to a rapidly evolving world, and budgetary considerations.

"Lincolnville is a growing town, and LCS has been growing in size steadily for the last 10 years," he said. "The average class size for the current school year is 23.9 students, which is quite a lot to ask of a teacher."

"We have also reached a point, particularly with technological advancement, where adaptability to ever-changing conditions has become paramount," he said. "Just ask the average auto mechanic how much his job has computerized in the last decade. The LCS curriculum must continue to keep apace of advancements in best educational practices and technology, as well as differentiate educational instruction for students based on individual need."

He sees that budget concerns remain the same, even as the world rapidly changes. While teachers and school administrators may see the budget as "all too finite," taxpayers "most likely view those figures a bit differently," he said. "Honestly, I'm not sure where to draw those lines."

Harbaugh believes it is reasonable to be concerned that LCS must increase maintenance spending by 370 percent on a building that is only 13 years old. "I'd like to know more," he said, "and I'm sure most residents would as well."

Matthew Powers

Matthew Powers moved to Lincolnville last year with his wife Melissa and three children, from Cape Cod. He was raised on Deer Isle, and the move back to Maine brings him closer to his family, who still lives there.

He is running for a seat on the Lincolnville Central School committee because as a new member of the community, he is interested in being involved in the school and town. He sees the school board position as a way to volunteer and give back to the community.

With three children in LCS, in grades ranging from kindergarten to 7th grade, Powers sees many years ahead of investment in the school system, in Lincolnville and the high school in Rockport. Melissa Powers is already a member of the school's Parent Teacher Organization. Both he and Melissa are impressed and very happy with the Lincolnville Central School. It is the first time their three children have all been in the same school. “It's nice,” he said. “They get to interact.”

Moving to Lincolnville creates new opportunities for Powers, after living in an area with tens of thousands of people. It is easier to get to know people, and be directly involved, he said. Lincolnville has been an inviting community for the family, and he hopes it keeps moving in that direction.

Powers served in the U.S. Coast Guard for eight years, and also studied glass blowing at the Massachusetts School of Art. He was a teaching assisting in glass blowing at the Horizons School of Arts in Massachusetts. He also served as a deacon in his local church on Cape Cod.

After the economic crash in 2008, he turned his attention to sustainable farming. Last year, the family bought an old dairy farm near Lincolnville Center, where they are establishing Minnowbrook Farm. The farm's primary focus is going to be pastured poultry. The Powers' goals are to expand to grass fed beef and heritage pork. They have eggs to sell and honey bees. “We plan to be a diversified farm, like when kids think about farms,” Powers said. It's full of all kinds of things.”

Powers believes it's important to be part of maintaining a good school system, addressing issues from building repairs to technology. He stresses the importantance of taking care of repair work and equipment breakdowns, instead of letting them grow into larger problems that then cost taxpayers more money. He is concerned that a significant cost in the school budget this year is due to issues with the building, “that normally would not be expected in a building that age.”

He is interested in working on the many responsibilities the school committee oversees, understanding how the school system works, seeing what can be done, what is the most efficient way to do things and making improvements where they can be made. He would bring that approach to the school budget, which “is always something that needs to be tacked every year.” His goal would be to look at “how we can improve the budget in a responsible way." He sees technology as an issue “on the horizon” where the school committee can help determine what the best technology is and “what direction do we want to project the kids towards.” He sees that discussion as “something where everyone can come together and make decisions in a collaborative way.”

Powers believes school safety is another area for discussions and collaborative decisions. “We feel that the school has good security protocols right now,” he said.”We feel very good about the safety of our children and the other children in the school.”

“Once you start going down the road of putting metal detectors in school and you're heightening security more and more, there are other issues to be addressed that go beyond what a school committee does. You are talking about societal and political issues.”

“With anything, things can and should be reviewed,” he said. Whether the issues are school safety, or education, he believes they can be tackled as part of the normal business of the school committee by looking into “how well are these measures working, what can be improved on” and “what can we do and do we need to do something better.”

Editor's Note: It was previously reported in error that Matthew Powers did not respond to the interview request. This story was updated to include Power's interview.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jun 08, 2018 12:29

Good maintenance will ensure longevity for the building and with maintenance in the annual budget the building should sustain for future students. If classes tend to increase in size one must look ahead to hiring another teacher for the same class age. Teachers need to teach individually to students needs and if overloaded the student loses and in turn the taxpayer. These students are the future of the society as a whole. Money is never wasted on education.

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