News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, February 16, 2017
Two vie for open school board seat in Brooksville

Click here to see the full Town Meeting 2017 Archive.

by Monique Labbe

A three-year open seat on the Brooksville School Board has drawn interest from two candidates. Incumbent Brad Jones seeks reelection for a fifth term on the board, while challenger Eliot Coleman hopes to take over the seat.

The Weekly Packet held interviews with both candidates; questions and answers for each are below.

Elections will be held Monday, March 6, with the winners announced at town meeting March 7.

Brad Jones

A native of Brooksville, Brad Jones has served four terms on the Brooksville School Board. He attended the Brooksville School during his youth and has had children who have come through the Brooksville school system.

Why seeking election: “I’m still concerned about the education of the youngsters [we’re] sending to high school. I’d like to see them better prepared. I think we have a responsibility to do that.”

What makes you a suitable candidate: “I have experience. Pretty much the whole first term for someone new is a learning experience. I still sometimes feel like I’m learning. I grew up here, I’m familiar with the area, and I think that’s so important for whoever is on the school board, to have that connection to the area. With the pressures of change in education, I’d hate to see us lose our school.”

Past board issues, and how to fix them: “There have been a few personnel issues over the years. I’m hoping that we’ll get over the hurdle we’re going through now and get a new principal who will breathe new life into the school.”

Purpose of the school board: “We have to listen to the people in the community, even if we don’t always see eye to eye. We have to do what’s in the best interest of the students, and do it in a financially responsible way.”

Solutions for BES moving forward: “We need to get a strong leader in our new principal and a strong sense of communication between all parties. This is a unique place; it’s important for whoever is coming in to become familiar with it. It can be a difficult place to find a good fit.”

Eliot Coleman

The owner of Four Season Farm, Eliot Coleman has been a fixture in the community for decades. His daughter, Melissa, attended elementary school in Brooksville 40 years ago, and Coleman now has grandchildren in the fourth and sixth grades at the school.

Why seeking election: “Now that my two grandsons are at the school, I am interested in becoming involved.”

What makes you a suitable candidate: “I have been involved in education for many years either formally or informally on the farm, teaching the next generation of young farmers how to make a success of it.”

Purpose of the school board: “I think it is important that the school board consists of adults with a direct connection to children in the school because the daily interaction with the students after school is an invaluable way of assessing how the school is doing. School boards exist so that there is a community sounding board to discuss issues which arise. It is up to the board to assure that goals and objectives are truly aligned with the aims and values of the community and to demand accountability for reaching those goals. The school board has to advocate for the best possible education for the children of our community.”

Solutions for BES moving forward: “Since the issues can sometimes be vexing and difficult it is vital that the board practices collaboration and respect and is determined to air all issues openly and honestly.”

The challenger

Eliot Coleman

Photo courtesy of Eliot Coleman

Incumbent Brad Jones

Photo by Monique Labbe