WINDHAM — The school district ballot facing voters March 9 will have a list of incumbents running for another term.

That includes the two incumbent school board members who participated recently in a candidate forum, sharing their thoughts and joint hopes for what the school district faces as the pandemic continues;

Incumbents Shannon Ulery and Cynthia Finn were the sole candidates taking part in the annual Windham PTA-hosted candidate forum Feb. 18 at Windham High School, safely taking the auditorium stage to field questions from the public about what the district is facing due to COVID-19 and what they hope is coming in the future.

Both Ulery and Finn agreed the district has accomplished a lot in their current terms and they look forward to another three years.

"But we have a lot more to do," Finn said.

Both focused a majority of the discussion on the current pandemic and how the school district has handled the crisis.

The school district is currently in a hybrid style of learning, but Ulery hopes students can return to an all in-person model.

But she also credited the students' ability to switch to the all remote model quickly last year and handle technology well when the virus became an evident threat. 

"There is something to be said for those skills," Ulery said. "The situation has taught me to look at my own kids and see how adaptable they are. It will serve them well in life."

Ulery is the current school board chairman. 

For Finn, it's also about a focus on ways to get students back to full-time learning, but also credited the way the district has handled things.

"Hybrid doesn't work for everybody," Finn said. "There is something that is missed. Kids at home can miss things."

Both women said the district and board have researched all ideas and input to make learning the best possible when the pandemic offers so many challenges.

"We are all working hard to bring kiddos back but never lost sight of the safety and health," Ulery said. "That will always remain the priority."

Finn added the district would be interested in offering the school district for a vaccination clinic if ever needed.

When asked what might be the goals, if and when a pandemic is not on the list, would be, Finn said in about five years, schools may be needing expansion to accommodate student numbers.

That would include the high school and middle school

Ulery agreed.

"The high school was built to hold 1,000 students," she said. "We are already over that."

Both candidates said it's always a goal to help keep taxpayers in mind and to help be fiscally responsible when planning a budget. This year's proposed school district budget is about $57 million.

For Finn, another three years on the board would be an opportunity to continue to work for the students, giving her a purpose in life to make sure education in Windham remains a strong priority.

"This gives me purpose," she said. "Children are our future and the future will be bleak if children aren't educated well."

Ulery said she has spent the last three years working hard and it's all for the kids.

"And to make sure they have what they need to get to adulthood," she said.

Other unchallenged school district candidates on the ballot include Robert Coole, treasurer; Elizabeth Dunn, school district moderator, and Mary Ann Horaj, school district clerk.

Election Day is March 9. Polls are open at the Windham High School gymnasium, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

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