Dresden voters will elect a representative to the RSU 2 Board of Directors on Tuesday, June 8. The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Pownalborough Hall.
The town has two candidates for the three-year seat: incumbent Kathryn Marseglia and Scott Silverman.
Kathryn Marseglia is the incumbent candidate running for the school board seat. She has served one term on the board, but with four children who have been through Dresden Elementary School, her relationship with the system has extended over decades.
“I know Dresden and I’ve seen it before the RSU and after the RSU,” Marseglia said.
A resident of Dresden for 27 years, Marseglia graduated from Hall-Dale High School before she left Maine for New York in her early 20s.
She returned to Maine with her family to work in health care in Augusta. She also worked part time as a librarian at Dresden Elementary School for five years before the school joined RSU 2. She currently manages physical therapy offices in Bath and Damariscotta.
After her first term as a member of the school board, Marseglia said that she is proud of her successful push for a principal in the building at Dresden Elementary without increasing the budget.
“I can’t tell you how many assistant principals we went through,” Marseglia said. “You need someone at least in the building.”
Marseglia voted in support of the RSU 2 budget when it came to the board, but said that she would like to see more efficiency and transparency in the budget process in the future. Many of the budget’s increases are set in stone, Marseglia said, including the $40,000 minimum wage for teachers, which must be phased into school budgets by the 2022-2023 school year.
Marseglia said that the board tried to pare down costs as much as possible with funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, but that its actions were limited as the funds available to them could not be applied to previously budgeted items.
If elected to another term, Marseglia would like to address the continuing decline in the student population at Dresden Elementary School and would like to see the schools push more students to investigate professional development through technical school tracks and apprenticeships rather than college.
She also expressed concern about the learning deficits and anxiety students are experiencing due to the district’s struggle to contend with the pandemic in the past year. She said that the schools have already sought to address these issues by directing money from the coronavirus relief bill to hiring clinical social workers and special education techs to reach out to potentially struggling families and support staff.
“I really do care about Dresden Elementary and I just wanted to do what I could to support the teachers so they can support the students,” Marseglia said.
Marseglia said that she has learned a lot about both the technical aspects of teaching as a member of the board’s curriculum committee and that her participation in Dresden Elementary School’s Parent-Teacher Friend group has given her a lot of insight into teacher’s concerns since joining the school board.
With a 40-hour workweek, a cleaning job on the side, and her work on the school board, Marseglia does not have much in the way of free time. However, she does enjoy reading and spending time with her family, especially her granddaughter.
Marseglia said that her favorite thing about Dresden is the sense of community.
“Everybody’s friendly and helpful,” she said.
In his bid for a seat on the school board, Scott Silverman views being “from away” as an asset.
Silverman moved to Dresden from Pennsylvania in 2013, but he has had family in town since the 1960s.
Silverman worked as a librarian and director of information technology for nearly 30 years at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and Earlham College in Indiana. He now works as an attorney, both in private practice and for an Augusta firm, Jim Mitchell & Jed Davis.
Silverman has four degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in history from Drew University in New Jersey, a Master of Science in library and information science from Drexel University in Pennsylvania, a Master of Arts in history from Bryn Mawr, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.
Silverman has been a member of the town’s board of appeals and budget review committee. He is proud of the committee’s past work to reduce tax burdens on Dresden residents.
He has also served as a volunteer town election clerk and on the governing council of the New Lawyers Section of the Maine State Bar Association.
“I’ve always been interested in any kind of civic engagement,” Silverman said.
Silverman wants to take a balanced approach with regard to his attitude toward the fiscal aspects of education in the RSU 2 school district by putting students first but keeping an eye on sustainability.
“You’re not going to hear me say education should be cheaper,” he said.
He will prioritize the quality of students’ education by fighting any attempts to grossly increase the student-to-teacher ratio, but will work to keep costs down by looking at the rising costs of staff benefits.
Regarding the coming RSU 2 budget referendum, Silverman said that he attended a budget presentation by the superintendent and is willing to approve the budget, recognizing that it is not ideal. He cited the pandemic and the stress it put on schools across the state this year as a reason not to send the district back to the drawing board.
“It seems tough to reverse any line that makes up that increase,” Silverman said. The district’s proposed 2021-22 budget represents a 3.1% increase from the previous fiscal year and an 8.8% increase in Dresden’s share.
Additionally, Silverman said that he doesn’t want the board to get caught up in “curricular controversies.”
While his own children were out of school by the time he moved to Dresden, he said he has a good relationship with the superintendent and teachers, and if people object to the curriculum, then the board must support teachers while asking tough questions.
Silverman is a first-time grandfather of 14 months, and is helping his daughter and her family move to Waterville so he can see his grandchild more. He enjoys kayaking with his wife and suspects he is the only Philadelphia Phillies fan in Dresden.
Beyond the beauty of the area, Silverman’s favorite thing about Dresden is the people.
“It’s that we’re so neighborly and supportive of each other, even though we’re very spread out,” he said.
(Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include an interview with Kathryn Marseglia.)