Ellsworth School Board candidates cite programming, teacher retention



ELLSWORTH — The signs are up and the candidates are out. Two residents are running to replace Kelly McKenney on the Ellsworth School Board. Neither has ever held elected office, although one, Colon Haskell, ran for School Board in 2015.

McKenney’s term expires in November. She has not taken out papers for re-election.

Colon Haskell

Colon Haskell

Occupation: Sales team supervisor for Maine Distributors.

Why are you running? “It’s something I decided to do last year, but I didn’t get on the ballot in time. I’ve lived in Ellsworth for 10 years. It’s something I’ve always been interested in doing. My parents were very involved in education. I always made a pact for myself when the time was right that I wanted to do something for the community and this is how I felt I could make the most of my time.”

What are your priorities if elected? “My goal is to have the best experience possible for our children. I think the School Board already has been very successful. I see certain things maybe able to be changed. I don’t want to get into too much of that publicly right now. This is the most influential part of their lives.”

What is one issue you would like to see the School Board act on in the next year?

“I want to make sure that … certain programs are always offered and that the biggest array of possibilities are offered for our children. The monies seem to fluctuate and programs get cut here and there. Obviously, learning is first, but with academics comes the arts, athletics. I want to make sure that those are still things the kids have an opportunity to be a part of.”

Why should people vote for you? “I’m a family man first. I know what it is to be a part of a team, a board. Right now I’m the president of Ellsworth Little League and we successfully transferred a program from the YMCA last year. Even though you have your own personal ideas and objectives I think it’s important for a school board to be successful that you have to be a team. People that know me know I’m that type of person.”

 

Abigail Miller

Abigail Miller

Occupation: Mom, former owner of online business Sox That Rock.

Why are you running? “I’m running because I’m already involved in the school. I’ve been part of the PTF [Parents, Teachers, Friends group] since my daughter started kindergarten … People come to the PTF to express concerns and people would associate me with that. I never really saw myself as doing that, but after volunteering for five years I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement.”

What are your priorities if elected? “I want to know why our teachers are leaving us and what we can do to change that. I want our school to be a school where teachers can go to and retire, not go to learn and then leave … Because we’re still a new school district and we’re still writing policies I want to sit on the committee that is writing policies.”

What is one issue you would like to see the School Board act on in the next year? “Teacher negotiations, teacher and staff retention. I don’t want our teachers just staying out of obligation to us. If they’re staying out of the goodness of their heart while missing out on other opportunities, they’re paying a price for us. I have a family full of teachers in Florida. I’ve seen what happens when we defund schools. I have no intention of seeing what the really wonderful schools we have here become what we had in Florida … They do not get the quality of education and experience that our kids get right here in Ellsworth. We have a really good school system. I hope to keep it to that standard.”

Why should people vote for you? “Because I am the candidate that’s already put in over 2,000 hours of volunteering over the last couple of years, in our school-building things for our school, sewing things for our school. I’ve rolled up my sleeves.”

Kate Cough

Kate Cough

Kate covers the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. She lives in Southwest Harbor and welcomes story tips and ideas. She can be reached at [email protected]