January 10, 2022

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by: admin

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Tags: Augusta, board, City, council, education, eyes, fill, June, March, Plan, rejects, seat, Vote

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Categories: Special needs education

Augusta Metropolis Council rejects plan to fill Board of Schooling seat in March, eyes June vote

Voters mark the ballot papers on July 14, 2020 at socially distant polling stations in the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan / Kennebec Journal File

AUGUSTA – A seat on the Education Committee that has been vacant since October remains vacant until June after Augusta City Council rejected a plan last week to add the position to a special election for March.

The March special election, where city officials are expected to get voter approval to borrow $ 4.4 million for planned capital improvement projects, is necessary so the money will be available on time for the projects.

The local council approved the election on Thursday evening 7: 1.

After a lengthy debate on Thursday, city councils voted 6-2 to reject the city staff’s proposal to allow voters to vote to fill a large seat on the school committee.

The seat has been vacant since former member Jennifer Dumond stepped down for personal reasons in October.

City councils said they were concerned that the March elections would not give candidates for the seat of the Education Committee time to collect the 100 signatures from registered voters they would need to get on the ballot, what if at all, the position could lead to few candidates looking for it.

Others also said they fear the March elections are likely to result in low turnout.

“My only concern is that this timeframe would not allow candidates to find out about the vacancy since the vote is in March and that people would go out and campaign themselves,” said At-Large – Councilor Raegan LaRochelle. “In COVID times, I don’t think that prevents people from campaigning, but collecting signatures and everything just takes more time.

“I want to make sure that we not just have a candidate, but maybe a competitive election so that people have a choice. I’m not confident that we would have that in an election in March. “

City councilors who voted for the school council seat to be included in the March vote said the board needs to be full in order to spread the workload, increase the chances of having enough members for a quorum at the meetings and giving residents the most Provide representation they seek and deserve – eight schools board members plus a chairman, as set out in the city rules.

“I agree that it is a short timeframe, but I also see that it is our duty to occupy the school board seat and waiting six months for it is something I am not advocating,” said City Councilor Heather Pouliot. “We should have full representation for our schools and for our students.”

Mayor Mark O’Brien said the city charter instructs city councils to hold an election to fill vacant school council seats, and if any vacancy exceeds six months, as soon as possible.

“When that is is up to the city council,” said O’Brien.

City Secretary Kelly Gooldrup said there would be no cost differential for the city if the education committee elections were held in March or June, as local elections were planned for both months.

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