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Two candidates vie for school board seat in Merrimack

Union Leader Correspondent

April 06. 2014 9:15PM

MERRIMACK — While at the polls on Tuesday, voters will have to decide between two candidates seeking one spot on the Merrimack School Board.

Incumbent George Markwell will take on newcomer Cinda Guagliumi for the single, three-year term.

Markwell, of 292 Baboosic Lake Road, is a software defined networking specialist at Oracle, and has a degree in marketing.

He was a member of the school board from 2005-2008, and has been serving his second term since 2011. Markwell previously sat on the school district budget committee from 2010-2011.

Markwell says he is looking forward to continuing his work on the board, and pledges to ask tough questions of the administration to ensure that students and parents have a voice at board meetings.

His experience on the board, budget committee and other town panels have provided him with the understanding of what it takes to achieve a good education while maintaining a fiscally responsible budget, according to Markwell.

The major issue facing the school district is budgeting, specifically budgeting in a manner that provides the best education with the lowest cost to taxpayers, he said.

"I think work needs to start with contracts. The school board must continue pressuring the state legislators to provide a contribution pension plan for our staff going forward," said Markwell.

If re-elected, Markwell says he will continue to voice concerns he has about Common Core, hoping to sway opinions to vote against the implementation of Common Core.

"I think all districts are facing similar issues around Common Core and funding of their budgets," he said. "What will the true cost of Common Core be, and how will it impact our students? The board has a duty to review curriculum and policy. With Common Core, the local control is questionable, and it threatens higher standards we want for our students."

Markwell is also concerned about infrastructure repairs and upgrades that will be needed throughout the district, including the administrative and special services office and track.

"Capital repairs must be in line with enrollment and the taxpayers' ability to pay for them," he said. "I will carefully review proposals to make sure they are in the best interest of students and the taxpayers we represent."

Markwell has lived in Merrimack for 20 years, and volunteers with the Special Olympics of New Hampshire torch program and For the Love of Dog rescue program.

Guagliumi, of 22 Ministerial Dr., is a professional services manager for

Silverlink Communications.

She has degrees in business administration and organizational leadership, and currently serves on the Merrimack School District Budget Committee as chairman.

"As a mother of two young children in the Merrimack School District, I want them — and all of our town's children — to have a quality education that prepares them for a successful future," said Guagliumi. "I understand that we must be very smart with our resources and must respect our taxpayers and their ability to support our schools."

Guagliumi says she understands how vital it is to work cooperatively to bring different voices together to achieve strategic results and success, adding she is committed to teamwork and listening to various viewpoints.

The biggest issue facing the school district is the ability to offer excellent education to students at an affordable cost, according to Guagliumi.

"One of the largest contributors to our costs and our quality is our staff. A priority this year is to update the process we use to evaluate teacher performance," she said. "It needs to be consistent with state goals, as well as being a fair measurement tool for our administrators."

If elected, Guagliumi said she will work to make sure the district is meeting objectives, being thorough and fair in development and implementation and listening to constituents.

She is committed to doing her homework, performing careful analysis and understanding different viewpoints before making decisions, said Guagliumi.

"I am generally supportive of things that will continue to improve the communication between the schools and the parents/community, promote student safety and encourage the use of technology for learning and in the curriculum," she said.

While the school board has handled recent budget issues well, Guagliumi says the board needs new blood that can look at costs and policy issues with a new set of eyes.

"The current budget on the ballot for the voters' approval is over $68 million, and is up 2.63 percent from the prior year," she noted.

Guagliumi has lived in Merrimack for seven years. She is married to her husband, Jordan, and they have two boys in second and fifth grade.

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