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For Concord school board District B, it’s Higgins vs. Poinier

  • FROM LEFT: Tim Croteau, Liza Dube, Danielle Smith, Barb Higgins, Liza Poinier, Rusty Cofrin, and Chuck Crush attend a “Monitor” forum for the candidates last week. Jonathan Van Fleet / Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

In wards 5, 6, and 7, Concord residents will have to pick between incumbent Barb Higgins and newcomer Liza Poinier, for the District B school board seat.

“I think what I bring to the table is I relate to and know citizens who are often not represented in political bodies. Neighborhoods like Fosterville, and Jennings Drive, and Concord Gardens and Royal Gardens. There are people that don’t even know those places exist,” Higgins, 54, said in an interview.

The Concord native said her experience growing up in the city had given her an in-depth understanding of the city’s varied neighborhoods and needs.

“When we’re sitting in the boardroom, making that decision, I can think about all the different people in Concord and all the different socio-economic groups that are represented in these decisions,” she said.

Higgins also said her experience as a parent and former teacher and coach in the district has given her invaluable knowledge about the district’s inner workings.

With an expensive building project on the horizon, the district is looking at cutting costs and taking a look at the special education budget. Higgins, who works as a special education teacher at Parker Academy charter school, said that’s another example where her perspective is important.

“I’m the only board member who’s currently working in special ed,” she said.

Overall, Higgins emphasized she tries to take a big-picture view of things.

“My big priority would be balance. It’s very, very easy to become sort of focused on one thing at the expense of other things,” she said.

Poinier, a part-time publicity manager at Concord Music School, thinks her background in public relations would be an asset to the board.

“I think what I bring is a strong desire to improve the communications between the school board and the community,” she said. Poinier said she’d want to find out what modes of communication residents would want before settling on an initiative, but suggested an email newsletter could be one option.

Poinier, 48, also pointed to her experience as the operations manager at Intown Concord during the Main Street project.

“I feel I have a unique perspective on large, complicated kinds of projects and the sort of collaboration that needs to happen to make them successful,” she said.

Both say they’ll vote to start full-day kindergarten in the district this upcoming fall. Poinier first got involved while advocating for it last year and said it’s one of her top priorities. Higgins voted against full-day kindergarten last year but said she did so because of the district’s need to rush an expensive conversion to gas after Concord Steam shut down.

“The main reason was money. We had this unbelievable disaster with the steam heat,” she said. The district also needed to find a way to fit the extra students, she said, and develop a new curriculum.

The election is Nov. 7. The seat’s term runs through 2020.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)