NEWPORT CITY – Two former educators are vying for one seat on the board that directs the school where they both taught.
Incumbent Marie George is facing off against Marguerite “Maggie” Griffith for the three-year seat representing Newport City on the North Country Union High School Board.
George, who taught French at North Country for 38 years, is running for her second three-year term because, she said, she has experience and is aware of the school board’s major initiatives. “I think the first three years are really a learning curve,” she said during a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. “I am newly retired so I still have my finger on what’s going on at the high school.”
George is a member of the Human Resources Committee and Curriculum Committee.
“The experience is so good,” she said. “Now that I know what I am doing, I thought I should try for another three years.”
Education is changing and it's necessary to get young people ready for jobs at local large employers like Jay Peak Resort and the biotech center, George said. George wants to be conservative during a time of declining student enrollment but she doesn’t want to sacrifice the learning opportunities.
George wants to see the students become accountable for some of the things they do.
George said going against Griffith is interesting, but she feels bad about it. “It has to be this way,” she said, because the two are friends. However, George feels it's a good race for the voters and it’s good to have competition in any type of race. George said some board members asked her to seek re-election. George said she doesn’t miss many meetings, even though she spends three months in Florida. She attends the meetings via Skype.
Griffith worked at Derby Academy and North Country Union High School. In all, she worked 36 years as an educator. Griffith worked in the English department and as an administrator.
“Things have to change,” is the reason Griffith gave for wanting to serve on the school board. Griffith, during an interview Thursday morning, was quick to say there are some good things happening at the school. “I am not criticizing anything.”
Griffith has five points. One of those is a lack of discipline at the school. Consequences are apparently not part of the discipline, she said. Griffith said parents, teachers and kids have talked to her about a lack of discipline at North Country.
“All kids need boundaries,” she said. “If they know the boundaries and know the consequences, 90 percent will follow those.”
Administrators are the ones who need to discipline the students, said Griffith. Principal Bill Rivard gives monthly discipline reports to the school board, but Griffith said she has never seen the consequences of the infractions and as a school board member that is something she would like to see.
The school board, especially the committees, need to be more open especially with expenses like the new track, said Griffith.
One of the biggest losses for the school was when the board did away with department heads more than a decade ago, said Griffith, who questions who is doing teacher evaluations.
Griffith also wants to know what happened to the $300,000 set aside to buy a piece of property and build a bus garage. She said $110,000 bought the property, but there is no bus garage. Griffith suggested that the Building Trade class build the garage.
Griffith was ecstatic when the voters elected George into the board three years ago because George had worked at North Country and knew what was going on. However, Griffith said George didn't speak up enough at the board meetings. Griffith also promises she will attend the meetings in person as opposed to using Skype, as George does.
Griffith said she is outspoken, has never set out to hurt anyone’s feelings, but speaks her mind. She also said she would question things she doesn't understand.
The administration is responsible for many things at North Country, but the administration works for the school board and the school board works for the taxpayers. “That’s the way it should be,” Griffith said.