Members announced to Blue Ribbon Commission to Reform Public Education Funding

Members announced to Blue Ribbon Commission to Reform Public Education Funding

 AUGUSTA – The Commissioner’s Office at the Department of Education has announced the members of the Commission to Reform Public Education Funding and Improve Student Performance in Maine. The Commission was created during the 127th Maine State Legislature as part of the bill that added an additional $15 million in education funding for local schools. The Commission will examine increasing costs throughout the public education system in Maine and recommend action to reform public education funding and to improve student performance in the State.

Governor Paul R. LePage has appointed Bill Beardsley, who leads the Department of Education, to chair the 15-member Blue Ribbon Commission on which the Governor will also serve. Joining them will be four members of legislative leadership, the Chancellor of the University System, the President of the Maine Community College System, and additional members designated according to the legislation that created the Commission.

In announcing the members of the Blue Ribbon Commission, Beardsley said, “This is an extraordinary group of leaders. They bring diverse experience, perspectives, interests, and a sphere of influences to this body. The intent is to identify and prioritize potential higher order outcomes where there is a broad consensus and then build grand bargains in terms of strategic action plans. Commissions are challenged, yet this is a team that has the potential to move the marker in Maine’s K-16 public education. I consider it a privilege to be involved.”

By law, the Commission must be convened no later than May 1, 2016. The Governor has invited the members of the Commission to the Blaine House on April 25, 2016, so that they may meet each other and discuss how they will work together in furtherance of the goals outlined in LD 1641. The Commission is tasked with submitting a report to the Governor and the legislature’s Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.

The full list of Commission members includes the following:

Senator Garrett P. Mason (R) of Senate District 17 is the Senate Majority Leader representing the Senate Republicans. Mason is currently serving his third term in the Maine State Senate. He resides in Lisbon Falls.

Senator Justin L. Alfond (D) of Senate District 8 is the Senate Minority Leader. Alfond was first elected to the Senate in 2008. He resides in Portland.

Representative Sara Gideon (D) of House District 106 is the Assistant Majority Leader. Gideon is serving her second term in the Maine House of Representatives. She resides in Freeport.

Representative Kenneth W. Fredette (R) of House District 25 is the House Minority Leader. He has served in the Maine Legislature since 2011. Fredette is an officer in the Maine Air National Guard and resides in Newport.

Jana F. LaPoint, a member of the State Board of Education, has been designated to the Commission by the Chair of the State Board. She also serves on the Maine Charter School Commission, which she formerly chaired. LaPoint previously served as a trustee on the Maine Community College System board for 11 years, with two years as Chair. She resides in Falmouth.

Tayla Edlund, the 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year, has been designated to the Commission by the Maine Education Association. Edlund teaches third grade at Pond Cove Elementary School in Cape Elizabeth.

Michael Wilhelm, a member of the Maine Charter School Commission and the 2003 Superintendent of the Year, has been designated to the Commission by the Chair of the Charter School Commission. After 19 years of service in Topsham, Wilhelm retired in 2003 and has served in interim positions. He resides in Casco.

Robert T. Callahan, director of the Lewiston Regional Technical Center, has been designated by Maine Administrators of Career and Technical Education to serve on the Commission. Callahan served as Director of Lewiston Adult Education before becoming the Director of LRTC. He resides in Gorham.

Douglas Larlee has been designated a public member of the Commission. Larlee is a second grade educator in RSU 74’s Carrabec Community School in North Anson. With over 40 years as an educator in Maine, Larlee has a wealth of experience and has served as chief negotiator for the local teachers’ contract. He resides in Norridgewock.

Joshua Reny, the assistant city manager of South Portland has been designated as a public member with municipal management experience, reflecting his current role as well as his former role as the Town Manager in Fairfield, Maine. Reny serves as a board member of the Southern Maine Community College Foundation and previously served with the Kennebec Valley Community College Foundation. He resides in Fairfield.

Richard P. Colpitts, Superintendent of Schools for SAD 17, Oxford Hills School District, has been designated by the Maine School Management Association. Colpitts served as Principal in School Administrative Districts 44 and 39. In 2010, he became Superintendent in SAD 17 and in December was named Superintendent of the Year. He resides in Peru.

James H. Page, Chancellor of the University of Maine System, has agreed to serve on the Commission. In 2012, Dr. Page was named Chancellor of the UMaine System after serving as CEO of the James W. Sewall Company in Old Town. Page is the first University of Maine System Chancellor to be born in Maine and to have been educated at one of the System’s universities. Page has also served as an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University. He resides in Old Town.

Derek P. Langhauser, President of the Maine Community College System, has also agreed to serve on to the Commission. Langhauser was named President earlier this year after serving as Interim President following his 20-year tenure on the leadership team of the Maine Community College System. Langhauser is a nationally recognized expert on higher education law and has served as General Counsel to the Community College System since 1994 as well as special counsel to Maine Maritime Academy. He resides in Cumberland Foreside.

For more information, contact Director of Communications, Anne Gabbianelli at or 624-6747.