Two Lincoln women run for one school board seat

LINCOLN — In the only contested election in Lincoln on Town Meeting Day, two women are vying to represent the town on the district school board.
Sarah McClain and Annie Svitavsky are running to replace Barry Olson for his seat on the Mount Abraham Unified School District (MAUSD) board.
If elected, they will oversee governance of the high school and the district’s five elementary schools, prepare budgets for the district and deal with the outcome of another important Town Meeting Day referendum — the $29.5 million Mount Abe renovation bond. This will be the district’s third attempt to fund critical maintenance and updates for the 50-year-old high school.
McClain, 37, moved back to Lincoln nine years ago. Both of her daughters attend Lincoln Community School.
“I’m, of course, invested in my children’s education,” she said. 
McClain decided to run for the district board at the suggestion of Addison Northeast Supervisory Union board member Christie Sumner.
“I looked into it, decided I had the time and space for it and decided I’d like to serve,” McClain said.
McClain, for work, imports olive oil from Italy, and she spends time at home with her kids.
She has served on the Vermont Board of Medical Practice, the Five-Town Health Alliance board and the Lincoln Cooperative Preschool board. She also coaches Girls on the Run.
Asked about the Mount Abe bond, McClain said, “We need to invest in our schools rather than simply maintain them. We need to look at innovative ways to keep costs down while never losing sight of the success of our students.”
McClain envisions a school district that both attracts new families and supports talented educators in an environment where students can succeed.
“The burden on taxpayers is real,” she said, “but the needs of our kids are real.”
McClain acknowledges that rising education property taxes could discourage new families from settling in the district, but she’s also concerned that partially funding education with a new income tax would be less predictable and more difficult to budget for.
Svitavsky, 32, attended church in Lincoln while she was growing up in Ripton. She moved to Lincoln two and a half years ago.
She is a child therapist for Counseling Service of Addison County in both Middlebury and Bristol, where she works with children from varying backgrounds, family situations and developmental needs. She’s also a consultant at Mary Johnson Children Center in Middlebury.
“Serving in the unified school district would give me the opportunity to share my unique perspective on a wide range of student issues, especially those that might otherwise go unrepresented on the board,” she said. “I want to be a part of the conversation.”
Of the Mount Abraham renovation bond, she said, “A school’s physical environment really impacts children and their ability to focus. Schools should be safe and healthy places, and we should take the necessary steps to ensure they will be.”
Svitavsky’s vision for the school district includes a system in which each school can “pull on the strengths of the other schools,” she said. “What is each school doing really well? And how can we help other schools mimic that?”
She’d also like to see the district board focus on developing better relationships between teachers and the administration.
Svitavsky sees some value in generating education revenue through an income tax, because it distributes the cost burden among everyone, not just landowners.
This year Lincoln voters report to a new polling place on Tuesday: the Lincoln town office. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Christopher Ross is available at [email protected].

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