WINDHAM — Two incumbent members of the RSU 14 School Board have a challenger on the ballot this November in a three-way race for two seats representing Windham.
Current board members Dawn Dillon and Marge Govoni are joined in the race by David Lydon, who has made three unsuccessful bids for Town Council.
Lydon, 39, said the feedback he heard after previous campaigns was that people would “love to see me active in some other capacity. His priority is to bring his perspective as a parent to the board rather than to work on any specific issues.
“As it appears, there are a number of big issues working there way through the School Board right now, and I sort of feel like it’s an opportunity not necessarily to bring my to-do list, but rather to represent the voice of those parents in those very large decisions around the middle school and Raymond and how its all going to play out.”
District officials are hopeful that a new or renovated Windham Middle School, funded by the state, could be possible in the coming years. The district is also facing a pending question of whether Raymond will withdraw from RSU 14.
Dillon, 51, says she would like to work more on ensuring consistency across the district curriculum, “looking at our facilities” and demographics, and keeping up with technology.
“I’m really passionate about the school system,” said Dillon, who has a daughter in eighth grade and two sons who graduated from the district.
Govoni, 77, thinks she can continue to bring her experience to the board and would like to work on a new middle school project if it moved forward, along with looking at underutilized buildings in the district.
“When you live in a community, you should contribute to the community. I think I have a lot of value I can add to being on the School Board,” Govoni said, mentioning her many grandchildren, several of whom are students in the district. “I know kids, I get it, I can understand the needs of all the kids.”
The winning candidates will serve on the board at an uncertain time in the Windham-Raymond School District. Residents in Raymond voted 171-128 in August to initiate the withdrawal process from RSU 14.
A letter from the Raymond Selectboard notifying the Maine Commissioner of Education of the vote cited concerns about the district’s cost-sharing formula for the two towns and a sense that RSU 14 “has been unwilling to view the district as a whole” as reasons for starting the more than 20-step withdrawal process.
Dillon said she would like to see Raymond stay in the district.
“I do have reservations about them leaving,” Dillon said. “I think, for the most part, bringing the RSU 14 together has saved administration costs and the administrators in all the schools – I see them, being on the School Board – work so well together with sharing resources, sharing knowledge, and I think Raymond is better off continuing on with us.”
Dillon said she feels Windham is also better off with Raymond as part of the school district because of shared resources.
When asked if she supporting Raymond leaving or would like to see the two towns stay together in the RSU, Govoni said it is “kind of like a 50-50 thing.”
“If the bottom line is that they want to leave because they want to control their own schools, then it will probably benefit them to do that,” said Govoni, whose longtime partner David Nadeau is on the ballot for Town Council this November.
“The other thing is, financially it’s a problem,” Govoni continued. “I think it will be a big problem for them, and they need to be aware of that.”
Lydon said he understood why Raymond is considering withdrawing and indicated it could potentially benefit Windham.
“I am not surprised by their desire to leave,” he said, noting that Raymond has three members on the nine-member board. “It’s going to certainly present new challenges for them.”
He said a Raymond exit could potentially help relieve some of the tensions surrounding Windham’s rapid growth.
“For us, I mean, Windham has been growing leaps and bounds. If we had fewer students in the system, that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Lydon said.
He said he isn’t running to specifically challenge any of the current members, “though I think a younger, more representative parent would be welcome.”
“I’m certainly not critical of the past work of any of the current sitting board members, I’m just anxious to lend a hand,” Lydon said.
Family: Partner, four children, 19 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren
Occupation: Retired manufacturing manager
Education: some college
Political/civic experience: School Board member since 2009, Zoning Board of Appeals chairwoman, Human Service Advisory Committee chairwoman and numerous other committees
Family: Wife and three children
Occupation: IT Manager
Education: Associates degree in video and multimedia technology from Southern Maine Technical College (now Southern Maine Community College)
Political/civic experience: Three campaigns for Town Council, 2015 Fellow of the New Leaders Council
Website/social media: Facebook.com/LydonForWindham
Family: Three children
Occupation: Associate broker with NextHome NorthEast Realty
Education: MBA from Thomas College, Waterville, and bachelor’s degree in business, SUNY Brockport.
Political/civic experience: School Board November 2011 to present, Windham Youth Soccer Board 2007-13, Maine State Dept. of Economic & Community Development 1993-96.
Website/social media: facebook.com/DawnDillonPerkins