POWNAL -- If the three-way race for two one-year terms on the Pownal School District board feels like deja vu, that’s because it is.
For a second consecutive March election, the school ballot on Town Meeting Day features incumbents Nicole Prouty-Carbonaro and Angie Rawling facing challenger Dolores Gahan.
Gahan is seeking her first stint on the school board after running unsuccessfully last March.
"I ran last year and I still believe that there’s a lot that needs to be changed," she said. Among the top of that list is the bullying.
Gahan added, "I’d like to see, if we can somehow fit it into the budget, getting an investigator specifically for the bullying in the schools so (that person) can deal with the kids directly. The counselor is not enough."
Gahan, a certified hypnotist and stay-at-home mother, also wants to increase local agriculture in the cafeteria to benefit students, local farms and the community. "We could have a healthier lunch system ... and in the long run it would bring in more people to Vermont because everyone (would be) buying local."
Gahan, who has one child at Pownal Elementary and another who will begin in the fall, also supports public pre-kindergarten -- an initiative the school board is considering adding as early as next school year.
As a member of Pownal’s Parent Teacher Group, Gahan, also wants to see the school do more fundraising to offset taxes. Among fundraising efforts, she believes, should be some large scale events to attract people from outside Pownal.
Instead of thinking of herself as being at a disadvantage because she does not have school board experience, Gahan believes that inexperience would benefit the board.
"I bring fresh, brand new ideas," she said.
She also said she will dedicate the time necessary to perform the duties and stand up for what she believes in.
"I fight for what I believe in. When it comes to the kids’ education, I don’t mess around with it," she said. "I’ll get right down and dirty when it comes to doing what I need to do for the kids."
Gahan is hoping for a better outcome this March after she was defeated at the polls by more than a two-to-one margin for both one-year seats.
Rawling, a manager of the Shell gas station on South Street in Bennington, has more than a decade of experience on the Pownal school board in which she has kept both the children and the sentiment in the community in mind.
"I am there for the children first and foremost and I’m also there for the people, so they can come to me and talk to me," she said.
In addition to supporting education, Rawling has also made it a priority to continue investing in the school building so it remains in top shape.
She is also a proponent for increasing technology in the school -- including a SMART Board in every classroom. "We’re moving forward with that to make sure every classroom has the technology that they need.
Rawling served 10 years on the board prior to allowing someone else to take her place in 2011, however after one year off she found herself missing the involvement.
"I like to stay involved and make sure that the education in Pownal moves forward," she said. "I had taken a year off and I didn’t care for some of the things that happened."
One of the decisions made by the school board in her year off was to replace paraprofessionals riding on the school buses to monitor behavior with cameras. Rawling said she is not opposed to cameras, however she feels an additional adult on the bus other than the bus driver is the best way to deter misbehavior and bullying on the school bus. The board, with Rawling’s input, has said it will not eliminate aides from every bus in the first year, and Rawling hopes that continues.
"I don’t think we need to get rid of the bus aides completely," she said.
In addition to 11 years of experience on the board, Rawling said being the mother of two children who have gone through the school and being the manager of a store gives her the insight needed to address education needs and to keep an eye on spending. Another strength, she said, is the ability to remain respectful when working as a member of the board even when there may be disagreement. That, she said, has long been a strength of the entire board during her tenure on it.
Attempts for more than a week to reach Nicole Prouty-Carbonaro for this story were unsuccessful. Prouty-Carbonaro has served two years on the board.
In addition to the three-way race, there are also two uncontested races for the school board. James O’Connor is running unopposed to the remaining year of a three-year seat he was appointed to fill in the fall after the resignation of Randy Monhollen and Doug Robertson is running unopposed for the three-year term being vacated by Gudrun Hutchins.
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