Two are vying for a seat on the Topsham-based school board

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Promising change and improving the education system, two Topsham residents are vying for a seat on the Maine School Administrative District 75 school board in November.

Newcomer Haley Kulas runs against former board member Jim Burak.

Previously, Burak was nominated to serve the remaining three months of board member Sara Ward’s term after she resigned in July 2021. Burak ran for the position in November, but lost to Amy Spelk.

Here’s what the candidates told The Times Record.

Jim Burac

Jim Burak, candidate for the MSAD 75 school board. Photo provided by Jim Burak

Tell voters about yourself

My name is Jim Burak. I lived in Topsham for 22 years. I am married and have one child. I am an electrician by trade and currently work at Bath Iron Works. I enjoy the outdoors. I spend most of my time supporting the Topsham Cub Pack and Scout Troop. Whether it’s helping Scouts park cars at the Topsham Fair or coaching a Scout on their Eagle Scout project. I volunteer as much as I can. I always tell people that it’s not for me to say no if I can say yes. I don’t want to one day take stock of my life and wonder if I’ve done everything I could.

Why are you running for this seat?

I run for the same reason I ran last time. Trying to be part of a change to improve education and change the relationship the School Board has with Topsham students, parents and taxpayers. Too often we see chaos and anger in school board meetings in the media. I had the privilege of having a seat on the board of directors for three months and was able to show everyone what kind of representative I would be. I listened carefully to everyone’s concerns and asked many questions. My votes were conservative and I considered what was best for the students. Sometimes I personally wanted to vote one way, but I voted the way I felt the people of Topsham wanted me to vote.

What are the biggest challenges or concerns your city/district will face in the next term?

I don’t like politics at school. I don’t like to see what is happening around schools across our country and I want to do my part to prevent this from happening in our schools.

What are your top priorities if elected?

As a member of a committee, no one should have personal priorities. As I proved the last time I served on the school board, the board works as a group. So, I would say that my priority would be to be part of the team. Show people that, if treated with kindness and respect, people with different points of view can come together and find common ground.

Haley Kulas

MSAD 75 school board candidate Haley Kulas and her son Felix. Photo provided by Haley Kulas

Tell voters about yourself.

I am married with six amazing children who attend MSAD 75 schools from kindergarten through high school. My job is baker/caterer, where coordination and implementation requires hard work, organization and adherence to a schedule, to ensure the success of our events. Our work thrives on my family and colleagues. As a team, we all support each other to succeed, and that’s the philosophy I want to bring to the school board.

Why are you running for the seat?

I’m running not only because I have a vested interest and a lot to offer, but also because I believe in the power that a good public education can bring. It works best when administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, and the community come together for the good of students. I am grateful for the love and support my children have received in the district, and I want to give that back to them.

What are the biggest challenges or concerns your city/district will face in the next term?

Finding and retaining great staff is the district’s biggest concern. Currently, getting children to school safely and ensuring they receive a proper education is difficult without enough staff. Our administrators, teachers and support staff work very hard to achieve success together. I want to do everything I can as a school board member to solve problems and support them, so they can in turn support our children.

What are your top priorities if elected?

First, I intend to listen and better understand the challenges facing the district. I want to get to know the other board members and look for opportunities to collaborate and problem solve together. I also look forward to working with the new superintendent. For committee service, I will seek to see where the greatest need lies and use my skills where they are best suited.

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