News Feature

Brooklin
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, March 22, 2018
Candidate withdraws from Brooklin school board race

by Anne Berleant

School board incumbents Frank Bianco and Paige Morse seek reelection to three-year terms at town elections April 6 but will be unopposed after candidate Robert Cowart withdrew from the race.

However, with the election ballot printed, his name will still appear, said Town Clerk Heather Candage. Cowart notified her verbally, and The Weekly Packet by email, on March 20. Candage said she is waiting for written notification of withdrawal to make it official.

Also running unopposed are incumbents Bill Cohen, for a three-year term as selectman; Neil Allen, for a one-year term as road commissioner; and Tammy Andrews, for a three-year term as treasurer. Voting will be held on Friday, April 6, 2-8 p.m. at the town office.

Interviews were held with school board candidates Bianco and Morse.

Frank Bianco

Frank Bianco seeks a third three-year term on the school board. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in psychology, and pursued advanced training and credentials from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in school policy/administration.

In a decades-long career in education, Bianco taught regular and special education classes, and served as a reading specialist, school psychologist, director of pupil services, high school principal, and superintendent of schools.

“I believe the single best investment we can make is to wisely support the education of the young people in our community,” he wrote in a statement prepared in 2012.

That still holds true today, he said. “It’s six years later but the same issues are relevant.”

These include improving student standardized test scores and providing them with the skills needed today.

“I think young people really need to have a very sharp skill set to compete in today’s global economy,” he said. “It’s a whole different world.”

Bianco also questions the cost of education in Brooklin: “I think we need to look at how much we’re spending per student and really ask us ourselves the question, are we getting the biggest bang for our buck, and if not what do we need to change?…I think they’re areas where we can really share resources and save.”

Paige Morse

Paige Morse is running for a third term to provide continuity during a time of change, she said.

“I think that the Brooklin School is in a period of change right now, with a new principal, looking at different programming and [with] a relatively new superintendent.”

Institutional knowledge and longevity “is something really needed right now.”

Morse envisions a school that is “vibrant, an educational leader. We’re very interested in trying to do something a little different, [with] flexibility within the school, so every single student can thrive.”

As the board works towards a strategic plan, with help from a consultant and led by community input, Morse said she’s not sure what the future holds.

“[We have] a very divided community in some ways as to what would be the best future for the school,” she said.

It will take another year to 18 months to develop a “rock solid” plan that’s ready to implement, Morse said.

“We have a board that [will be] unified behind the decision, once it’s made. The common goal is what’s best for the school and students, and we will stand behind that once the plan is done. That’s our role.”

Morse is married, with two students in the school. She works at Blue Hill Memorial Hospital and is leader of Brooklin Girl Scout Troop #625.

Editor’s note: This story was updated March 26, 2018 to remove information that votes for the withdrawn candidate would not be counted.

Frank Bianco

Frank Bianco.

Penobscot Bay Press file photo
Paige Morse

Paige Morse.

Photo courtesy of Paige Morse