CONCORD, NH — In January 2021, when Concord’s Board of Education begins the work of the New Year, nearly half the nine-person body will be new members — with two-thirds of the board having less than a year’s experience advising the third largest school district in the state.
Chuck Crush, the current District C (Wards 8, 9, 10) school board member, joins Tom Croteau of District A and Liza Poinier of District B, in deciding not to run for reelection.
On Saturday, Crush called serving on the board “a wonderful experience” — even if it faced many issues they did not anticipate, including the Primo “Howie” Leung teacher-student rape case, the firing of Terri Forsten, the school superintendent and Tom Sica, the principal of Concord High School, and the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the decision not to run was not about problems during the last 18 month but, instead, a professional one, based on taking a new job at an assisted living facility in Massachusetts last year. Grappling with all the responsibilities of that job — in the midst of the new coronavirus in the Bay State, which has been much worse than New Hampshire, as well as school board and family was just too much.
Crush was first elected to the seat in 2017. Along with Croteau, Crush, and Poinier, Jennifer Patterson, a long-time school board member, resigned Aug. 31.
During the first three days of filings, Pamela Walsh signed up to run at-large to serve out the remainder of Patterson’s term/ Jonathan Weinberg and Allie Maltais signed up to run for the District B seat. And Brenda Hastings filed to run for the District C seat this week.
Whoever is elected will join Gina Cannon, another District C member, and David Parker, a District B member, who were both elected in 2019.
Barbara Higgins and Danielle Smith, at-large members, and Jim Richards, the board’s current acting president, will round out the membership.
In an email Saturday, Maltais, who grew up in the North End after her family relocated to New Hampshire from Virginia about two decades ago, said the district could “do better with new insight.” She served on the private task force led by Donna Palley, the district’s assistant superintendent, that was created to assist the district in moving forward in the wake of the Leung incident.
“We have amazing teachers, staff and, of course, above and beyond paraprofessionals,” she said. “I believe in this district but there is more work to be done. It starts with our students.”
Maltais said she was also “very passionate” about special education — due to a child with special needs and her own learning disability and ADHD diagnosis.
“It took me a long time to find the courage and confidence to finally feel comfortable saying that to people,” Maltais said of her experiences. “I guess that mindfulness class I took really paid off. I had a professor who really pushed me to break the boundaries and end stigma around learning disabilities. So, I approach it differently now and try to offer this perspective to those who need it. I have always been a firm believer that we all learn and see things differently and this itself is a gift not a ‘disability.'”
Maltais said the district and community had “so much to learn from each other” especially while living in “uncertain times” that require everyone to be there for each other.
“Our community right now needs support and respect during these times. Regardless of race, identity, or religion,” she said. “It’s about the students, they need us to help guide them through this. We also need our students to help teach us how to be a better community and school district. We are in this together.”
How To Sign Up
Four seats are up this Nov. 3. Three are district seats: District A (Wards 1, 2, 3, 4), District B (Wards 5, 6, 7) and District C (Wards 8, 9, 10). The terms for each seat run from Jan. 1, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2023. Also, there is an at-large seat to fill out the remainder of Patterson’s term.
The filing period for board of education seats runs through 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11. There is a $5 filing fee.
To run for district seats, candidates must be a voter in the wards of the district seat; to run at-large, candidates must be a registered voter in Concord.
Individuals wishing to declare their candidacy for the board of education should file before Sept. 11 with Roger B. Phillips at his law office at 104 Pleasant St. in Concord. For more information, call 603-225-2767.
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This article originally appeared on the Concord Patch