STONINGTON — Two candidates are vying for a three-year term on the Deer Isle-Stonington School Board for Community School District 13.
Polls will be open in Deer Isle on Saturday, March 7, from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Polls will be open in Stonington on Friday, March 13, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Incumbent Skip Greenlaw is seeking re-election.
“I just love the work,” said Greenlaw, a former Maine legislator.
The Boston native has been on the School Board for 30 or 32 years, he said. “It’s been a great pleasure and honor to be on the board all these years.”
“I got on the board originally because I had an employee at the [Stonington Lobster] co-op who didn’t graduate because he couldn’t read,” said Greenlaw. “I was so upset that we had kids in our schools who never learned how to read. That’s been my focus, to get our children to read at appropriate grade levels.”
Greenlaw said the biggest challenge for the school district is to try to make the education opportunities in both schools “current, relevant and to meet the needs of the student in the 21st century.”
Greenlaw lives in a home that had belonged to his grandparents.
“I came home as a small child every summer,” said Greenlaw. “In 1970, I got out of the service and went back to Boston.”
He was hired to work at an Army security agency in Arlington, Va. However, because of the recession, the late President Nixon announced a hiring freeze for government employees.
So, Greenlaw moved to Maine.
“I’ve never looked back once; it’s the best decision I ever made,” he said.
“I think the School Board and the administration and teachers and staff are doing some really good work,” said Greenlaw. “[Superintendent] Chris Elkington is just a fantastic leader. We’ve got great teachers, great staff. It’s such a treat working with them all.”
Stonington native William Shepard also is seeking the seat.
Shepard, 39, is raising four children with his wife, Heidi Lee Shepard. Their children have either gone through the island schools or currently attend.
“I am currently employed by Olver Associates as the water superintendent for the town of Stonington,” Shepard said. “I am also the acting lieutenant in the Stonington Volunteer Fire Department and have been for over five years. I also just started to serve as a public citizen on the Maintenance Committee that oversees the maintenance repairs and upgrades of both schools.”
Shepard said he has been attending monthly School Board meetings faithfully for the past eight years.
“I started going to be more aware of the decisions that were being made that affect our students, my children and the community,” Shepard said. “I love to serve others and believe I would be a strong voice to represent the public’s concerns about the school system and a strong parental voice to address the needs of our children.”
“Some of the items on my list of concerns is the current status of our two school buildings,” Shepard said. “In past months, the FOOS (Future of our Schools) committee did countless hours of work to bring to the table the current state of our buildings. The public voted to keep both schools and fix them up.”
“We need to bring both schools up to code, with money budgeted in the maintenance reserves each year for future upgrades which will help keep these two great facilities a thriving place for our kids to learn and be on the latest edge of the newest technologies so we can attract the best teachers to our beautiful island.”
Shepard, a 1999 graduate of Deer Isle-Stonington High School, said he has a passion for “hands-on” learning at the school. He would like to see more emphasis on training for trades and practical skills such as home economics and business math.
“It’s alarming to see the statistics of how many children are not entering a trade school,” Shepard said. “We are seeing a shortage of skilled tradesman in plumbing, electrical, truck driving, boat builders, carpenters … the list can go on and on. I’d like to see those programs be a part of our high school curriculum again so when our young adults graduate, they can perform basic tasks like reading a tape measure or understanding how to cook a meal or balance a checkbook.”
“One of my favorite sayings is ‘What’s right is right, and what’s fair is fair,’ and that is what will always drive my decisions as a School Board member,” said Shepard.