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School Board names replacement for Tomlinson

September 14, 2011
School Board members appointed Karen Thurston during their meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6, to fill in as fifth member of the board, and serve out the remainder of Derek Tomlinson's term.

After some deliberation, the four members of the board were evenly divided between two of the four candidates who applied to fill the vacant fifth seat.

During the deliberation, Paul Blandford made a motion to appoint Thurston, which Sue Allen seconded. The motion failed, as the board was deadlocked, with Chairman Kurt Webber and Rae Mellow-Andrews voting against the motion.

Mellow-Andrews motioned to appoint Allan Demko, with Webber seconding her motion, which also failed.

"This is why we have an odd number," said Superintendent Kent Hemingway, as there was no one present to break the tie.

More deliberation stressed the need for the candidate to step in imminently and fully participate in the next school board meeting in October.

"We need to bring someone in who needs to work immediately," said Webber.

Mellow-Andrews and Webber leaned towards Demko for his experience. Demko served as a school board member for seven years in St. Johnsbury, Vt., and as business administrator to SAU 59 (Winnisquam Regional) and SAU 44 (Northwood, Nottingham and Strafford) for about 16 years.

Mellow-Andrews concluded that his financial and business experience would be helpful in the tough financial time and the upcoming budget season.

Allen favored Thurston's "well-rounded" experience to Demko's, which she viewed as more focused at the high school level.

Allen added that both candidates seemed focused on the needs of the school while keeping taxpayers in mind.

"Everybody brings something different to the table," said Allen, adding that she liked Thurston's focus on putting students first.

Allen pointed out that Thurston's extensive community involvement, which includes participating on the Old Home Day Committee, planning committee, building committees for the elementary school and imagination station play-ground gave her a good senses of community awareness. Thurston is also the founder and president of the Lakes Region chapter of Blue Star Mothers.

Allen said Thurston's dedication to the community could bring a fresh perspective to the board.

Allen's arguments swayed Webber in favor of appointing Thurston. The motion passed, three to one, with Mellow-Andrews apposed.

Thurston will serve on the school board until the next election in March, when she will have the option of seeking election for the seat, as Tomlinson's term expires in 2012, along with Allen's and Webber's terms.

Thurston was very positive about her future with the school board. She said her major strengths are in mediation, and that she enjoys getting individuals and groups to work together.

One of her goals for her for her time on the board is to help "open the door between the school board and the community" and make the school board more approachable to residents.

"It's about knowing who your neighbors are," said Thurston. "We need to work together to be successful. We can do it."

Varney Smith
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