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Four candidates vie for two Mascenic School Board seats

NEW IPSWICH — Two newcomers are challenging the incumbents from both New Ipswich and Greenville for seats on the Mascenic School Board.

Current School Board Chair Chad Gibson and challenger Jim Kingston will be on the ballot for the New Ipswich seat, while incumbent Robert Turner is up against Richard Wallace in Greenville.

Kingston said in an interview Wednesday that the reputation Mascenic has been building in the past few years as a district of excellence doesn’t necessarily hold up when examined more closely. If elected to the School Board, he would like to see more stringent standards for academics.

“We’ve continued to see the School Board and administration brag about awards that have been won and increased quality of education but objectively that doesn’t bear out,” said Kingston, pointing out that Boynton did not make Adequate Yearly Progress last year, and that the SAT scores for the district have been below the state average.

Gibson argues that specific failures within the district are not indicative of a pattern. While there are areas in need of improvement in the district, as a whole, the district has been moving forward and making improvements over the past three or four years, he said.

“I agree that there are places we need to do better, but education is much more than solely test scores, it’s the whole education,” Gibson said in an interview Wednesday. “We can teach to the test, or provide a proper education that will help our students in life experiences after they graduate.”

Gibson and Kingston said they would both be in favor of reassessing the school’s class scheduling method, currently operating a five-block day.

“I’m not sure that’s what we need for our students to succeed,” noted Gibson. Gibson said he was in support of some of the innovations implemented by the district in the past few years that supported a more individualize education structure, and would like to continue that trend in the future.

Kingston said he wants to bring back the Building Trades program, which was eliminated for the upcoming school year due to lack of student interest. Kingston, an engineer, added that he had extensive experience working with significant budgets, and would be comfortable working with the school’s budget.

During a candidates’ night in Greenville on Tuesday, Wallace and Turner were able to expand upon the issues they felt were most important to the school district.

Turner said his priority if elected would be to help create a contract that would be acceptable to both the teachers in the district and the School Board. The two failed to come to an agreement this year.

“I think it’s long overdue and the only way to keep quality teachers is to give them something substantial for what they do,” Turner told the gathered crowd at the candidates’ night.

Wallace said he would like to see a new form of evaluation for teachers in the district, based on a supervision evaluation instead of a standardized form. Mascenic has been moving in this direction in the past year, and he would like to see that continue, he said.

Wallace also pitted the different view he could bring as an educator against the three years of experience Turner has had with the board.

“Not a lot of teachers sit on school boards”,” he said.

New Ipswich will hold a candidates’ night on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the town office’s conference room. Residents can vote for School Board candidates on March 12. Voting is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Mascenic High School in New Ipswich and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Greenville Elementary School in Greenville.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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