Education News

From the candidates: Two vie for MAUSD board seats

BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham Unified School District board will see new faces after March 1 voting; two of four incumbents decided not to seek reelection.

MAUSD board member Kristin Blanchette of Monkton is not running. Fellow Monkton resident Bailey Layn is unopposed to fill her seat for a three-year term. Another MAUSD board member not seeking re-election is Andrew Morton of New Haven. Because no one had come forward by the filing deadline, the school board portion of the ballot will be blank.

The contested election is in Bristol, where MAUSD’s newest board member, Erin Jipner, who was appointed last fall, will be running to keep her seat. She will face a challenge from fellow resident William Mount.

Jipner is a behavior specialist for individuals with comorbid intellectual and mental health disabilities. She is also a Ph.D. Candidate at Fielding Graduate University in the School of Psychology; Infant and Early Childhood Development. She is a volunteer teacher at 4-Winds and volunteer soccer coach in the fall at Bristol Elementary. These programs help provide a diverse scientific program for local kiddos and a really fun way for children to get out in the fresh fall air to play

Mount works in financial services and volunteers with Scouts BSA, Troop 543 and Pack 543 — both in Bristol.

We asked MAUSD board candidates with a head-to-head race to answer four questions and gave them a word limit.

ERIN JIPNER

ERIN JIPNER

  1. What is the most immediate challenge faced by the MAUSD school board?

Unfortunately, the immediate issue we face is a grand vision that supports organization and cohesion. Without the vision, the other pressing issues such as: possible merger, the Nate Levenson report, behavior, principal search, etc., are hindered. I do think we are working to make meaningful change and create for ourselves a structure of organization and decision making. It is a slow, broken process in light of the other challenges being faced.

  1. What does the board need in order to address that challenge?

In lieu of being able to take time to create organization, the board needs to make a grand vision for MAUSD. Use community input, the latest trends in education, and follow where money is being invested in education (globally throughout the U.S.), and make a vision board. My sense is, there is not one grand vision or goal the board is working under, which can damage our ability to make decisions.

  1. How would you work to help address it?

To address this issue, I continue to try and take in community input about their perspectives, learn (as I am still green in this school board world) how processes work and what we are capable of. This is meaningful work that will take a herculean effort on top of all else the board faces.

  1. How would you ensure that educators, community members and other stakeholders have a voice in solving this challenge?

To ensure that all stakeholders, educators, and community members have a voice, I would like to see the use of forums- perhaps door-to-door canvasing, using the library, gas stations, the town hall, local businesses, or other public space to put out suggestion boxes. To me, although many of our stakeholders have access to the internet, it is limiting to rely on the internet for canvasing. The old fashion approach may be more appropriate for our remote communities. We have a plethora of old families in our communities as well as brand new families to the area. What better time to collect information from this diverse group than to create a new vision for MAUSD?

WILLIAM MOUNT

WILLIAM MOUNT

  1. What is the most immediate challenge faced by the MAUSD school board?

In my opinion as a Parent with Children in both Elementary and Middle School here, the support for teachers and other children when a child with emotional or behavioral issues gets out of hand must be addressed. Many of our teachers have approached and spoken to the board not only for themselves but also for their peers (with very much support when doing so in person and in writing) and are legitimately concerned that they do not have the tools or support to be able to react and handle the behavioral situations that they are increasingly faced with.

  1. What does the board need in order to address that challenge?

The Board needs to find a way, and quickly, to move away from the remove the class from the situation mentality to one that directly addresses the needs, health and safety of the child in crisis. Different guidelines than the hands-off approach, which appears to be heading to injury both physically and mentally for all children affected, not just the ones directly in crisis.

  1. How would you work to help address it?

Research quickly and efficiently nationwide for an approach that is having positive effects and work again quickly, to bring that positive methodology to our schools and to our teachers.

  1. How would you ensure that educators, community members and other stakeholders have a voice in solving this challenge?

By more effective outreach in local media including the Addison Independent, FPF, and email blasts with information, progress reports and detailed agendas for School Board meetings which are written for the public and not just for internal use by the board.

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