Meet the Unified School District Board Candidates

Study Committee Report | Informational Video | FAQ
On November 3, voters in Essex Junction, Essex Town and Westford will vote on whether or not to form a unified school district. On that same date, candidates that would serve on a new board, should the proposal be adopted, will need to be elected. 

The following candidates are running for seats on the potential new board:

Essex Junction
Diane Clemons – Diane has lived in Essex Junction for over 30 years and has two children who went through the village schools and graduated from EHS. Her past community involvement includes: chair and founding member of both U#46 and Brownell Library Foundation, and a member of the Brownell Library Board, Essex Junction recreational council, Friends of Brownell Library, Girl Scout Service Unit Manager, PTO leader/member, part of the dog park planning process, a Five Corners Farmers’ Market organizer, community calendar committee member and various school and Village ad hoc committees. She is currently on the Planning Commission and a Justice of the Peace. Diane thinks that she could contribute her skills to get this new unified school district on its feet, as she did once before with U#46. She enjoyed the work, the advocating for students, and putting a human meaning to all the numbers in the budget book. She believes that our students will have more opportunities for the educational
quality we have come to expect while moderating the tax impact on taxpayers.

Erin Kennedy Knox – Erin and her husband have lived in the Junction for over 10 years.  Her husband grew up here, and one of the main reasons they bought their home was because of the quality of the schools. Erin’s son attends Summit, and they love their school community. Erin strongly believes that a quality public education should be one of our top priorities, and she is committed to doing everything she can to support this through her board work. She has been a member of the U#46 School Board (which oversees EHS and CTE) for the past four years, and currently serves as the vice-chair.

In the past four years on the U#46 School Board, Erin has had the privilege of seeing firsthand how dedicated our administrators, staff, and teachers are to the quality education of our students. She strongly supports the unification of the Essex Town, Essex Junction and Westford schools districts. She is committed to keeping our schools sustainable and to the hard work of maintaining quality, while respecting fiscal responsibility and keeping our primary focus on our students. Erin feels that it will be important to have current school board members on the unified board to help support and ease the transition into our new unified district, and to continue the spirit of mutual respect and collaboration that she has enjoyed in her current role as vice-chair of the U#46 Board. Erin is excited for the new possibilities of a unified district and the opportunities it can offer our current and future students.

Marla Durham – While serving on the Prudential Committee from 1995-2007, Marla experienced U#46 District formation, K-8 re-organization, IBM tax agreements, Act 60 implementation, construction of the Maple Street building/pool, re-location of CCSU offices, the effects of ‘No Child Left Behind,’ hiring of two superintendents, two EJRP Directors and the current K-8 principals. Still caring passionately about education for all students, Marla was re-elected to the Prudential Committee in 2010. She has served on numerous village and school committees, including the RED Study Committee. Raised in Waitsfield, on a third generation farm/inn, she grew up listening to stories about her grandmother driving by horse and buggy to teach in the rural towns of Vermont. After attending Harwood Union, and before UVM, Marla went to school in Paris, France. In 1984, after living in Las Vegas and New York City, Marla married an Essex Junction resident. Her son and two step-daughters attended Essex Junction schools. Currently, she works at The Medical Store in South Burlington.

Keeley Schell – Keeley Schell served on the RED Study Committee in an effort to learn more about her son’s school system (her oldest is a kindergartner at Summit Street School), and would like to put what she learned to good use helping to shape a unified district in the transition period. Keeley works as a substitute teacher for CCSU, subbing in all academic subjects for grades 6-12 at Essex High, ADL and Westford Elementary. Previously she taught Latin, Greek and ancient civilization courses at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, where she got a close-up view of the skills that kids need coming out of K-12 education.

She also taught and tutored students from 10th grade through retirement age as they prepared for the SAT and GRE with Kaplan Test Prep, and has volunteered in a variety of capacities in education, most recently helping to develop teacher training information for the Vacation Bible School of the Essex Catholic community. Keeley holds a Ph.D. from Brown University, as well as degrees from Cambridge University and Duke University. While she’s not a native Vermonter, her family has long roots in Vermont education: an aunt and uncle taught in Vermont public high schools for over two decades, and her grandmother worked at Green Mountain Junior College more than half a century ago.

Keeley’s two children are ages 5 and 4, and her husband co-owns a small software business in Winooski, so she is very committed to finding ways for Vermont’s high quality local education systems to become more financially sustainable for the future. She has a strong belief in the importance of kids’ relationships with their teachers and mentors. You can connect with Keeley on Facebook at www.facebook.com/keeley.schell.vt.

Daniel Tifft – Daniel is running for the unified school board because he is passionate about education and extremely proud of our wonderful schools and the students they serve. He is the parent of a Hiawatha student, a former teacher and a member of the U#46 School Board. After college, he joined Teach for America where he taught high school Spanish and served as a mentor for new teachers. Daniel then took a position at a college preparatory school in Puerto Rico as an English teacher and chair of their English department. Having worked in both public and private schools, he knows first-hand how fortunate we are to have such strong K-12 programs in the village and town, and he wants to help preserve and enhance their performance through the unification process. Daniel also has a business background and an understanding of accounting and finance, which can be of benefit as budgets are consolidated to work to bring clarity and fiscal stability to the taxpayer. His family is originally from Vermont and he returned three years ago to take a job with Keurig Green Mountain. His wife Emy, also a former teacher, and their two sons love Essex Junction and recently bought their first home there.

 

Essex Town
Al Bombardier – Al and his wife Marie have lived in Essex for over 25 years. He earned his Master’s in Administration degree from Saint Michael’s College and is currently employed at Homeland Security. Previously, he worked at IBM and served in the USAF (Strategic Air Command). Like many in the area, he moved to Essex because of its quality/progressive schools and its proximity to a really great community. Al has served on the U#46 School Board for 14 years and the Essex Town School Board for two years.

Kim Gleason – Kim has served on the Essex Town School Board since April of 2007, currently as Chair, governing through a model that monitors policies which are accountable to outcomes for students, at a cost that honors the investment of taxpayers. Kim has served on the Vermont School Boards Association for the last four years, as an officer for the last three years, sharing a statewide and national perspective on education matters. Kim is a mentor and advisory council member of the Essex FriendCHIPs school-based mentoring program, and appreciates the value of connections between our communities and our schools.

Kim earned her Bachelor of Science from Cornell University and her Master of Business Administration from New York University, while working in New York City for TIAA-CREF, where she was a senior financial consultant, serving colleges and private secondary schools and their faculty and staff. She also worked for TIAA-CREF in Vermont with VSAC managing the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan, helping families plan and invest for their higher education needs. While Kim’s background is in finance, her passion lies in educational advocacy, transparency in process, and accountability to the best possible outcomes for all kids and families, in the most fiscally responsible manner for our taxpayers.

Kim and her husband, Matt Gleason, have four children, two of whom are in college and benefiting from their quality educational experience in the Essex schools, and two of whom are at Essex High School, aspiring to their next steps on their educational journey. Kim is honored as both a parent and board member to be part of this dynamic journey of our students.

Dawn Hill-Fleury – Dawn has been an Essex resident for 58 years. She graduated from Johnson State College with a Bachelor of Science in education and worked in school transportation for the past 39 years. She is currently employed by the Chittenden East schools. Dawn is currently a member of the Essex Town School Board, is a Justice of the Peace, Chairman of the Essex Board of Civil Authority, Administrative Board Chair Essex United Methodist Church, and the transportation coordinator for Essex Eats Out. In the past, she has been involved in the following: founding member of Essex Community Youth Basketball, former treasurer and transportation coordinator for Boy Scout troop 635. Dawn has one son, Christopher.

Brendan Kinney – Brendan’s family moved to Essex Town in 2002 and he served on the Essex Town School Board from 2008-2014, serving three years as chair. His oldest son is a sophomore at Essex High School, his daughter is a student at Essex Middle School, and his youngest son is in the fourth grade and attends Founders Memorial School. As chair of the RED Study Committee that is recommending a unified school district, Brendan is running to serve as a new member of the board to “see it through.” There are many recommendations and suggestions that the study committee made in its assessment and report of a unified district. But ultimately, many of these details are the domain of the new school board. Brendan is running to make sure that these recommendations are carried out and that the full potential of a unified school district is realized.

Liz Subin – Liz holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a Master’s Degree in International Administration. She was the founding director of the Anguilla National Trust, an organization dedicated to overseeing environmental conservation, historic and cultural preservation. Liz was a Project Coordinator for Heart and Soul of Essex and now serves on the advisory board. She is currently a director at the Pennywise Foundation. Liz serves on the U#46 and CCSU school boards, serving the communities of Essex Town, Essex Junction and Westford. She lives in rural Essex with her husband and three children, ages 16, 14 and 11. She is running for a seat on the new board because she believes there is an incredible opportunity before us to engage our community in profound and meaningful ways to create a new educational district for our communities. Liz believes there is a need to ensure that the conversation around what is possible in a new district includes the voices of all the people who live and work here. She thinks we need to build a system that maintains and strengthens the quality and diversity of educational opportunities in the community, while embracing new ideas for what is possible in our schools.

 

Westford
Martha Heath – Martha was born and raised in Newport, Vermont and graduated from Newport High School. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Vermont in Secondary Education with a Mathematics major and a Chemistry minor. Martha spent seven years teaching high school math in Vermont and taught algebra as a volunteer in Westford for over 10 years. She has served on the Westford School Board and the Chittenden Central Supervisory Union Board since 1985. Martha served as Chair of the Westford Board for many years and took Westford’s turn as Chair of the CCSU board many times. She also recently served on the RED Study Committee. In 1992 Martha was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives and served from January 1993 through December 2014. During that time, she served on House Education and Appropriations Committees, chairing the later committee for 10 years. Martha has three daughters, Molly, Kate and Elise, who attended Westford Elementary and graduated from Essex High School. She is also the proud grandmother of three granddaughters.

Andre Roy – Andre is a lifelong Vermont resident, who grew up in a rural town near the Canadian Border. He has been a resident of Chittenden County for more than 30 years and a resident of Westford for the past 27 years. He appreciates the rural setting of Westford, as it is similar to the town where he grew up. Andre and his wife have three children who attended Westford School, two who have graduated from Essex High School, and the youngest child still attending the Essex High School. His past employment has included various service related fields and manufacturing positions. Presently he is employed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division within the Department of Homeland Security.

Andre is interested in running for a board seat on the Unified School Board due to his willingness to continue representing and serving his community. He is currently a member of the Westford School Board and has served the Westford community in this role for over 20 years. Andre has found that the role of being a school board member has provided him with both challenges and opportunities to have an impact on the community’s children. With  his tenure on the board, he has come to appreciate the support of the community for its school. The work of a school board could not be accomplished without the support of the community.

It is with the support of his community that Andre wishes to continue being a representative of the community on the new school board. Being a board member on the Westford School Board has allowed him the opportunity to support educational opportunities for our children in preparing them for opportunities beyond school. He says that the world as we know it continues to be an evolutionary world and he wants to take an active part in ensuring our children are prepared for their role in this world.

 

 

Breakdown of seats …

4 from Essex Junction:
3-year seat: Marla Durham
2-year seat: Diane Clemens, Erin Kennedy Knox, Daniel Tifft
1-year seat (vote for 2): Keeley Schell

4 from Essex Town:
3-year seat (vote for 2): Dawn Hill-Fleury, Kim Gleason, Al Bombardier
2-year seat: Liz Subin
1-year seat: Brendan Kinney

2 from Westford:
2-year seat: Martha Heath
1-year seat: Andre Roy

 

Where to vote on Nov. 3 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

·         Essex Junction residents: Essex High School

·         Essex Town residents: Essex Middle School

·         Westford residents: Westford School

 

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