BANGOR, Maine — Five school committee candidates are running for two seats this election day on November 2 in Bangor.
The candidates are:
- Eric Crawley
- Sara Luciano
- Imke Schessler-Jandreau
- Carrie Smith
- Benjamin Sprague
"For me, access spans several different points. It’s access to things like services, ideas like what would help their children facilitate their learning, things like 504 plans, but it is also access to things like internet resources," Luciano said.
Luciano tells NEWS CENTER Maine her son was able to receive services that have made a big difference in his education experience. He needed a 504 plan, and she wants parents to know that there are many services available to students that parents might not be aware of.
"I want to help other parents find those services," she said.
She also wants to help get better and more reliable internet service for every student in Bangor.
"I know that our community is filled with those people, and I'd like to get all of us working to turn everybody near us and say 'what do you need?' 'how can I help,’" Luciano said. "We are in the middle of a life-changing generational century indifference with this pandemic. It's a chance to change for the better. I'd love to be a facilitator for that change."
Candidate Carrie Smith has lived in Bangor her entire life, and her kids go to school in Bangor. Her biggest concern is about all the changes students have been going through due to COVID.
"I'd like to help them get back to a sense of normalcy, but I really want to be a voice for the parents. I think the parents don't necessarily feel included when new curriculum is changed or presented," Smith said.
Smith said with the new superintendent James Tager leading the way, she wants to be hands-on with the decision-making that happens at the Bangor schools.
"With remote learning, hybrid learning, in-person learning, this year I know the teachers and staff are struggling a lot dealing with students that came from all three different environments last year ... they are really struggling to get the kids back on track academically," Smith said.
"Sometimes things are passed before parents even know that they've really been presented. I'd really like to help the kids get back to just focus on academics, and maybe leave some of the social pressures out of school," Smith said.
Candidate Eric Crawley's biggest concern is kids' mental health.
"The decline in mental health, anxiety, especially at younger and younger ages. The rise of social media and the effect that the pandemic had, I would say on the more use of social media during the pandemic when they were stuck at home," Crawley said.
Crawley coaches youth sports because he likes being involved in kids’ lives.
"I love the Bangor schools. I know how great they are, and I want to continue that,” Crawley said.
Crawley said he wants to continue to build the Bangor school department into an even better school system.
"So much some times gets put on the negative when something happens but not enough on the positive, we've got three national blue ribbon schools, we've got one elementary my son's school Fruit Street School that was just named best Elementary school in the state of Maine and that's an absolutely tremendous honor," said Crawley.
Imke Schessler-Jandreau says for the foreseeable future mental health for teachers and students will be something school committee members should focus on.
"How do you best reach out to parents? How do you make sure the proper message is received at the right time through the right media in order to get that information out there, and I have a background in communication and public relations, and I thought this is where I can put those skills to good use," Schessler-Jandreau said.
Schessler-Jeandreau also wants to focus on teachers and their well-being.
"We need to figure out how we support the teachers so that they can focus the most on educating the kids and helping them to reconnect with their community," she said. "Then that's going to trickle down, a healthy teacher is going to be able to work with the students and not be so concerned with the other things."
Schessler-Jeandreau believes in strong civic engagement and has been thinking of running for the school committee for a while to keep building the Bangor community for the better. "That's where I could fit in!" she expressed.
Ben Sprague used to be a former city councilor in Bangor, he is now on the School Committee Ballot.
"Bangor's got a great academic program. It's part of the DNA of this school system. It's part of who we are but we also really need to focus on the mental side as well and the overall wellbeing of the kids in our schools," Sprague said.
His goal is to help better the schools with an academically driven school system while focusing on mental health.
"I would like to be involved to try to help continue Bangor's academic success and also support the overall social and mental well-being of these kids," Sprague said.
Sprague said he can see it in his kids, at times feeling stressed.
"There is a lot of pressure on these kids, growing up is hard, so how do we support these kids ... with the arts, in athletics, how do we have a nice safe welcoming nurturing schools system that watches out for the overall wellbeing of these kids," he said.