LACONIA — The contest for the seat on the School Board in Ward 2 presents voters with a clear choice between the incumbent Barbara Luther and challenger James McCoole.
Luther was appointed to the School Board in 2014 to complete the term of Beth Arsenault, who has represented Ward 2 for many years. A native of Massachusetts, Luther began her professional career as an administrator in a local law firm then prior to her retirement a year ago spent 30 years at Belknap County Registry of Deeds, the last seven as Registrar.
"I think I see the school district in a different light," Luther said, "as a mother and grandmother." All three of her children attended Laconia schools and she has grandchildren currently enrolled in the system, one at Pleasant Street Elementary School and another at Laconia High School.
Luther said she has always been concerned to ensure that children receive the best education the community can provide them. "An education that gets them ready for life as well as for college," she said.
After just a year on the board, Luther acknowledged she has more to learn, but said that she is looking forward to selecting a new superintendent and preparing the 2017 school budget. The superintendent, she suggested, should be someone with vision, who "looks forward." As for the budget, she said "I think that the school district does the best job possible with the budget the City Council gives it." In particular, she said that she is eager to provide all high school students with laptop computers.
Luther said that she has put up some signs, but not knock on door or made phone calls. "My name has been around town for a while," she remarked.
McCoole is a relative newcomer, who came to the Taylor Community from Florida after working first at IBM and Blue Cross/Blue then becoming self-employed as a truck driver. He is the father of two public school teachers, who describes himself as "conservative in thought, in ideology and in politics."
McCoole said that he is "concerned about the culture," particularly about what is being taught in the public schools about what he called "morality issues. There have got to be some issues," he continued "that are taking the culture in the wrong direction." For example, he said he was troubled by the way the Gilford school board treated a parent who objected to a book "with pornographic language" being assigned to his daughter. As a member of the school board, McCoole said he would be "only one of a group of concerned citizens, but I am willing and able to speak when I see things that should not be done."
McCoole also said he was interested in budgetary issues. Noting that the cost of public education is rising, he asked "why is it costing more to educate an elementary school pupil than a student at a technical college?"
If elected, McCoole said "I will be as active as the things that are going on demand of me. I will not be intimidated."
The election will be held on Tuesday, November 2 when the polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.