Four vie for three Lebanon School Board seats

John D'Entremont (Courtesy photograph)

John D'Entremont (Courtesy photograph) Name here—

Richard Ford Burley (Courtesy photograph)

Richard Ford Burley (Courtesy photograph) Name here—

Lochrane Gary (Courtesy photograph)

Lochrane Gary (Courtesy photograph) Name here—

Lilian Maughan (Courtesy photograph)

Lilian Maughan (Courtesy photograph) Name here—

By PATRICK ADRIAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 03-04-2024 6:31 PM

LEBANON — On March 12, four candidates, including one incumbent and three challengers, will face off for three seats on the School Board.

Lilian Maughan, the current School Board chairwoman, is competing against John D’Entremont, Richard Ford Burley and Lochrane Gary for one of three open board seats, each with a three-year term.

Board member Lisa Vallejo Sorensen, whose seat is open, decided not to seek reelection.

Another seat was recently vacated when former board member Stephen Kantor relocated to Enfield.

Maughan, a 50-year-old freelance editor, is seeking election to a second term on the School Board. She has two children in the school district, one in 10th grade and one in eighth.

Maughan said she hopes for an opportunity to build on the district’s successes during the last three years, which included getting voter approval of a $14.5 million bond for building renovations at Lebanon High School and Hanover Street School, and last year’s hire of Superintendent Amy Allen to succeed Joanne Roberts, who retired in 2023 after nine years as the district’s administrative leader.

“I’m excited to continue the work we’ve begun and move forward into an invigorated new era for Lebanon School District,” Maughan said in an email. “We are at a pivotal point as a district as we transition to a new superintendent and articulate a new vision for the future of (the district), and I am very much looking forward to being a part of that work.”

Key challenges facing the school district, Maughan said, include managing the increasing costs of education while continuing to ensure a quality education for Lebanon students.

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In addition to the ongoing legal battles in New Hampshire to improve the state’s funding contribution to local school districts, Maughan said the district is still grappling with post-pandemic challenges such as an increase in mental health needs among students and learning losses that occurred during the pandemic.

D’Entremont, 45, is principal of the Lyme School and the former principal of Lebanon Middle School, where he served from 2017 until June 2022. He has two children in the Lebanon School District.

D’Entremont ran for School Board last year, which resulted in a tie-vote with board member Jessica Saturley-Hall, at 560 votes apiece, for the final open seat. A blind drawing of names was held at City Hall to break the tie and Saturley-Hall’s name was selected.

If elected, D’Entremont said that he aims to keep the school district an attractive option for students and staff, to balance student offerings with fiscal responsibility, and to educate and engage the community about education issues at both the state and local level.

“It is important that the school community is up to date on new and possible new legislation that impacts our district,” D’Entremont said in an email.

D’Entremont, an educator for more than 20 years, said he is highly organized and experienced in strategic planning and school budget development.

Richard Ford Burley, 41, is a writer and managing editor of Ledger, an academic journal focused on cryptocurrency research. He serves on the city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission and the Planning Board, for which he was recently appointed vice chair.

Ford Burley said his top educational priorities include providing quality special education programs and supports for students with learning differences, trusting teachers to determine the instructional content for their students and strengthening vocational education.

“I’ve witnessed the many opportunities available for students to go into the trades, both as workers and entrepreneurs, which is why I would love to see us expand our already growing focus on vocational training,” Ford Burley said in an email. “I want our students to flourish, emotionally and economically, in whatever future they choose for themselves.”

He said he has a strong understanding of people’s priorities and values in the community, and an experience in public service to help the School Board be effective.

Gary, 40, is a real estate agent who has worked with young people as a volunteer coach at Kimball Union Academy and the Lebanon Recreation Department. He has three children, including one in the Lebanon School District.

His time as a coach “has shown me the value of our public school system and the importance of nurturing our students so that they can thrive and become tomorrow’s leaders,” Gary said in an email.

Gary’s top education concerns are the state’s lack of funding to school districts and state laws and policies the restrict the autonomy of teachers in the classroom.

If elected to the board, Gary said he wants to ensure student access to quality educational experiences, which he called paramount to the district’s long-term success.

New Hampshire’s funding contribution, a base rate of $4,100 per pupil, is the lowest of any state in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Gary said his work as a real estate agent has taught him to be a skilled negotiator in challenging situations and to listen to the needs of other people.

On March 12, Lebanon voters also will be asked to consider a proposed operating budget of $55.3 million for the 2024-25 academic year, with $38 million to be raised by property taxes.

The proposal increases spending by 7% from the current year and would increase the school portion of the city’s property tax rate by $1.37 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or the equivalent of an additional $411 on a $300,000 home.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ward 1 voting will be at Kilton Public Library, Ward 2 voting will be at United Methodist Church at 18 School St. and Ward 3 voting will be at City Hall.

Patrick Adrian may be reached at padrian@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.