By Jerome Reuter
The Londonderry School Board is experiencing a transitional period. A special meeting was held on Monday, Sept. 13, to interview five candidates for two vacancies currently on the board. The meeting has held without allowing public comment to focus solely on the interviews of the candidates. The five candidates interviewed were, Nancy Hendrix, Greg Depasse, Mike Ducharme, Rachel Killian and Tim Porter were each given an opportunity to make a statement before being questioned.
Nancy Hendrix was the first candidate to be interviewed, and opted to be present via phone. Hendrix expressed her concerns about getting students back on track after so much time being taught remotely. “there is no doubt that remote learning has taken its toll on students…our students are behind; we simply cannot have that.” When she was asked about working with the board on a decision she might not agree with, she stated that “The board is not going to agree on everything, and the board will not always agree with the administration.” She went on to comment on the importance of maintaining objectivity when working together. “Sometimes we get so emotional we get tunnel vision.” She also stated that she would gladly support the majority of the board.
Greg Depasse was the next candidate to be interviewed. He spoke about being raised with morals and standards and how he would strive for objectivity and impartiality. He demonstrated his willingness to work along the board with a clever analogy related to football. “I don’t mind changing my opinion when new facts and data come in.” he began. He then went on to describe the Superbowl in which Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were trailing behind the Atlanta Falcons by a significant amount. “I believed the Patriots were done for.” After watching the game progress, he equated new data as being like the fourth quarter comeback during the game. “It’s important to question and not follow along.”
Following Depasse was Mike Ducharme. Right from the start, he began a discourse that centered on working with community. “I’m honored to represent the community. That’s the goal. That’s why I sit in front of you tonight.” Ducharme’s answers were straightforward regarding his intent to serve objectively. “As a board we represent the people” he stated
“You need to represent all viewpoints…a strong viewpoint can’t cloud your judgement.”
Assessing the importance for transparency between the board and public, he stated “Transparency is the most important thing. We work here, we work for them.” When asked about his views in CRT (Critical Race Theory) Ducharme said the following: “CRT is the hot button topic. If you say you’re for it, people tell you you’re wrong. If you say you’re against it, people will tell you you’re wrong. We’ve strayed from poor academic skills… and it confuses me. I feel like it started in the right place but it’s wandered off…These programs are worrisome for me. The undercurrents bring in tones that I don’t agree with.”
Rachel Killian, whose presence at Londonderry Schoolboard meetings is almost always consistent, stepped forward to deliver her case for why she was an ideal choice. Killian began by citing her experience in working with both public and private schools, and described how important the role of a school board is for the residents of Londonderry. “Respectfully ask questions of one another and pay attention to the future.” She then went on to explain her outlook “I show up and take the high road. I’m a positive person and see the light behind any darkness…It’s important for the schoolboard to represent every thought.” When asked about working with the school board through disagreements, she stressed the importance of being objective and focusing on the greater good. “Put your own personal feelings aside. Some disagreements are on topics larger than the board.”
The final candidate to be interviewed was Tim Porter. He was open about his lack of experience with matters pertaining to the school board, but accentuated his experience in the working world and maintaining a strong work ethic. “I’m detail oriented and focus on data that’s presented to me.” When asked about working with others about a topic he disagreed with, he stressed that “I don’t find it complicated…it’s a matter of open dialogue.”
His experience with the well-being of others was accentuated by his experience working in the financial field “Through 20 years and thousands of meetings…broad-based plans when it comes to their livelihood.” Porter’s main concern was attentiveness to the financial responsibility of the board and looking after the budget.
All five candidates presented strong cases and articulated their individual strengths. While the board wished to make their decision as soon as possible, they elected to wait until the next meeting convenes on September 21st before making a final decision. It was decided that it would be the first item on the agenda.