Thursday, October 18, 2007

Eight candidates vie for School Board seats

A few days before the deadline, it looked like there would not be enough candidates running for School Board. But despite the late start, eight different members of the community will vie for three School Board seats on Nov. 6.

The candidates are Laura Bonk, Megan DeVorsey, Tim Patoine, Jennifer Patterson, Frank Rosano, Ralph Willette, Eric Williams, and Rick Watrous. DeVorsey is the only incumbent, seeking a second term on the board. tried to reach as many candidates as possible before press time to give them the opportunity to talk about their races. We were able to reach four of the candidates. Four others either had unlisted or disconnected phone numbers, or no accessible email addresses or Web presence.

If those candidates respond before Election Day, voters can read their information online at

Megan DeVorsey

DeVorsey said she learned a lot in her first term and wanted to return to continue the work she already started.

She said she was committed to preserving the excellence of the school system. She said she would like future negotiations between teachers and the administration to run smoother than previous years. She believed that teachers and staff wanted that too.

DeVorsey approves of the reorganization plan for the community’s elementary schools and would like to continue to work on the plan. She said she would like to work on long-term planning to improve education opportunities for all students.

In the future, DeVorsey would like to make sure the district continues to emphasize wellness. There is now a wellness policy, she said, where both teachers and students consider things in terms of wellness. She said Concord High School was tracking its wellness program and attempting to improve communications with the Internet, between home and school.

Tim Patoine

Patoine said he was running because he believes that a School Board that is elected at-large may not always have the interests of the entire city at heart. He said it isn’t a fair way of electing board members. Over the last 20 years, he has noticed that the majority of the elected members reside in Wards 5, 6, and 7. A few wards have never been represented, he said.

Patoine said with many expensive issues on the horizon, it was more important now than it has ever been to make sure that the people elected to the school board represent the needs of the many and not just the wants of the few.

The candidate described himself as accessible, noting that he is a part-time school bus driver working for the school system now. This allows him

to be in contact with parents, teachers, administrators, and students on a daily basis, he said.

For the last 20 years, Patoine has owned and operated a mobile disc jockey business which puts him in front of the public at more than 150 functions a year, he said, which makes him more accessible than any other board member. He said he would not be a vote that is lost in a boardroom to lobbyists, pressure or agendas. Patoine has two children in the public school system, at Rundlett and Conant.

Frank Rosano

Rosano said the big issues people are talking about are the School Board purchasing property without a public hearing and the board not being accountable to the public or the taxpayers. Now that the cat is out of the bag, they are trying to make excuses, he said. Everyone is absolutely irate about the situation, he said. He wondered what the board would do if they didn’t use the property. Rosano guessed that the board would probably take a loss on the purchases.

If elected, Rosano said he would work to preserve neighborhood schools. He said people don’t want to close the schools because they like being able to walk their kids to school. It would be the wrong thing to do. With the new plan, elementary students will have to be bused around the community, which is expensive, he said. The time spent on buses could be better spent on other things.

Rosano questioned the need to replace the older schools saying, Concord has a tendency to just get rid of the history and charm and all that they have. The community is too quick to decide to destroy without even thinking about anything, he said. The plan needs more time and thought, but they’ve already made up their minds, he said, they are just going through the motions. It doesn’t matter that hundreds of people don’t want it. And that’s disgusting.

Rosano would also like the board to give more respect to the teachers. He thinks they work very hard and are not treated well. Rosano said the day after a new contract is signed, he thinks the board should start working on the next one. These people put their lives on the line these days to educate our kids, he said. I don’t think they are getting the respect they deserve.

Rick Watrous

Watrous said his number one priority if elected would be to do what is best for Concord’s children. He would work on deciding whether to refurbish or close some of the city’s neighborhood schools. He said he would work to improve communication with Concord’s citizens and increase public involvement in the district’s decisions.

Watrous said negotiating a new teacher contract that is a win/win scenario would be a priority. He said the board should be concentrating on providing children with an excellent education.

Watrous believes that more public involvement and accountability is needed. He said it is vital that school district governance be open and accountable to the Concord public so that citizens have a say and can determine whether their money is being spent wisely on behalf of the city’s children’s education.

Watrous has two children in the public schools. He has been a Concord resident for more than 20 years and is a public school graduate himself, with a BA in Communications and a MA in Writing. He works as a Media Literacy Educator developing elementary and middle school curricula. He is also an adjunct instructor, author, involved citizen and community volunteer.

Laura Bonk, Jennifer Patterson, Eric Williams, and Ralph Willette will also appear on the ballot.

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