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School boards across Maine deal with challenges and controversies tied to the polarizing issues of our times

Hampden-Masking.jpeg
Bangor Daily News / Courtesy of Cedena McAvoy
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Maia Johnson and Charlie MacDonald hold a sign in favor of mandatory masking at Hampden Academy on August 24, 2021 (Courtesy of Cedena McAvoy)

School boards in Maine and across the nation have become the source and victims of controversy. Hotly debated societal issues in the schools have led to angry parents, embattled educators, and school board members becoming the deciders on matters ranging from masking to critical race theory. We find out what school boards in Maine are facing in this charged climate.

Panelists:
Steven Bailey, executive director, Maine School Management Association
Becky Fles, chair, board of directors, MSAD11 (Gardiner, Pittston, Randolph, West Gardiner); director, Maine School Board Association
Peter Felmly, attorney, Drummond Woodsum

VIP Callers:
Regan Nickels, superintendent, RSU 22 (Hampden, Newburgh, Winterport and Frankfort)
Shawn Sullivan, reporter with the York County Coast Star.

Jennifer walked into her college radio station as a 17-year-old freshman and never looked back. Even though she was terrified of the microphone back then — and spoke into it as little as possible — she loved the studio, the atmosphere and, most of all, the people who work in broadcasting. She was hooked. Decades later, she’s back behind the radio microphone hosting Maine Public Radio’s flagship talk program, Maine Calling. She’s not afraid of the mic anymore, but still loves the bright, eclectic people she gets to work with every day.
Cindy helps produce Maine Public's live call-in show Maine Calling, and sometimes hosts the show—as well as the All Books Considered Book Club. Her first foray into journalism after graduating from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism was to intern with CNN in China in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre. She then worked in print journalism over the decades, as a factchecker, writer and editor, with publications ranging from the Los Angeles Times Magazine to the magazine of the National Zoo to a food trends magazine.