Write-in campaigns launched for Deerfield School Committee seat

DANA LAVIGNE

DANA LAVIGNE

AMY SEVERANCE

AMY SEVERANCE

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-03-2024 12:10 PM

DEERFIELD — Alongside the contested Selectboard race in Monday’s town election, two candidates are also mounting write-in campaigns for a two-year term on the Deerfield School Committee.

Polls will be open at Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. To elect a write-in candidate, voters must do their best to spell the candidate’s name, although addresses are not needed. Deerfield Town Clerk Cassie Sanderell said votes will count as long as the voter’s intention is clear.

Dana Lavigne

Lavigne, 58, is a former state trooper of 27 years and began her write-in campaign after a friend convinced her to run for the open seat. While she hasn’t had any experience in town government, she served as a professional development coordinator at the State Police Academy and also served as a teacher for the D.A.R.E. program during her time with the State Police. She said those experiences could adapt to the school environment.

“I’m a good communicator and I think she thought this would be something that I can do well at,” said Lavigne, who had two children attend school in the district. “I’m willing to tackle any kind of issue that may come up. I’ve had to make a lot of big decisions in my career and I’m ready for some big challenges.”

If elected, Lavigne said there will be a bit of a learning curve as she gets acclimated to the School Committee, but her first priority would be to have conversations with the school community, teachers and administrators, and gauge what’s important to them. Once settled in, she said she’d like to address the challenges of learning losses caused by the pandemic and seek out grants for teachers.

“I’d love to see our students doing much better academically because COVID was a very difficult time and it was a setback for a lot of students,” Lavigne said, adding, “I would really like to get more money to the teachers, so they can decide what they want in their curriculum … so, we’ll see if we can find more grants.”

Amy Severance

Severance, 47, is a veteran educator of 26 years who has served in multiple school positions, including more than a decade as a third grade teacher. She currently teaches at the Campus School of Smith College and has three kids in the Union 38 and Frontier Regional school districts.

“I feel like I’ve spent a little bit of time in many different roles and understand the things that are important from administration through support staff that make a school function,” Severance said, adding that she would prioritize listening to teachers’ feedback. “Sometimes they are the last ones who are asked what they need.”

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If elected, she said she wants to ensure Deerfield Elementary School continues its diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives and finds a “fine balance” between class size, enrollment and level staffing. With budgets as tight as they are, she said her background in education can help come up with a solution that is “most equitable for all.” Severance added her educational beliefs have “a lot of similarity” with Deerfield Elementary School’s.

“I think my greatest strength is I understand the school and how schools work. I’m a really good listener, which you can’t survive as an elementary teacher without having that, and I’m a really good collaborator,” she said. “I truly value public education and believe in it.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com.