December 7, 2019

Mary Powell-St. Louis (R): Candidate (Incumbent) for Region 18 Board of Education Representing Lyme

Mary Powell St. Louis

Mary is running for her second term on the Region 18 Board of Education as the Republican candidate from Lyme.  She is a twenty-one-year resident of the town and has three sons in the school system.  Mary is a board-certified physician with an additional Master of Public Health degree.  She is employed as a Principal Investigator and Research Physician with Pfizer.  She has also served as a member of the Safety and Policy sub-committees during her term on the BOE.  Mary will leverage her past experience with the board and sustain her focus on continuous quality improvement.

What are the three major issues in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools that you are currently aware of, which require resolution during your potential term of office?  Please list and explain each one briefly in order of importance.

A quality education in a safe environment is paramount to the students in Region 18.  Our district has continued to be one of the top performers in the shoreline towns and is ranked in the top 10 statewide for student performance.  This outcome is the result of the sustained commitment of our educators, our students, and our community. We strive to address the educational needs of each student in our schools.  My concerns for my next term of office include vaping/substance abuse issues in the district, an aging infrastructure which will require repair or replacement, and enrollment decline.   Vaping is my top issue which I discuss in more detail below. In terms of infrastructure, the board continues to track and prioritize those facilities that require maintenance or replacement.  It is critical for the board to take into consideration the input from our community as we plan to make best use of our budgeted resources. In terms of declining enrollment, the district has taken steps to try to market our outstanding staff and programs throughout the region.  Going forward the board will have to evaluate success of these efforts and determine next steps to grow our student population and optimize use of the district budget.

Regarding Question 1, explain more about your choice of the issue of most importance and how you think it should be resolved.

Education and safety at every level is important to me as a member of the board of education.  Our district has made substantial strides in the last few years improving safety for our students and educators.  As an individual who believes in continuous quality improvement, I believe we can always do more. My primary concern from a safety perspective that needs resolution in the upcoming term is the extent of vaping in the district.   We know from collaborative efforts with the LYSB through student surveys that despite district policies banning vaping on campus sites, it is felt that use by students is both significant and underreported. Recent reports of chronic lung injury and even deaths from vaping across the US cannot go unnoticed and this public health crisis should be at the forefront of increased educational efforts on the part of Region 18.  I would like to see more outreach for our community at-large and students through increased collaboration with LYSB.

What do you see as the main relevant skills and character attributes that you will bring to the position if elected?

I will bring a full term of experience with the board of education and sub-committee participation to the role.  As a parent and volunteer in the community I seek to get direct feedback on how district policies and initiatives are perceived by student and parent populations in Lyme and Old Lyme.   I strive to strengthen these relationships to ensure that alternative perspectives are brought into the BOE discussions. I have been actively involved in scouting as an adult leader with Troop 26, the local Boy Scout troop for the last ten years.  This experience has given me great insight into the development of our youth and to the importance of both caring adults and a robust team environment as factors in their development. As a physician I feel that I can bring an empathetic outlook to my board role and as a researcher I can focus on the importance of details and a commitment to continuous improvement. 

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