Belfast resident Christopher Hyk wants to give students the best possible education while striving to make sure taxpayers are also getting a fair deal.

Hyk is one of three candidates vying for a spot on the Regional School Unit 20 board of directors to represent the city of Belfast. Speaking at his home Wednesday, Oct. 23, Hyk said taxes are a significant issue for him, and one that he has heard a great deal about while talking to other residents.

“People are sick of the taxes,” Hyk said. “I want to run to bring some balance and not just spend, spend, spend.”

One of the ways Hyk suggested may help the district reign in increasing educational costs is by further consolidating the district — an option he said he doesn't feel has been given “a fair shake.” With recent reports indicating the district could be facing as much as a $2 million shortfall in the coming year, Hyk stressed that the district needs to look at all options for finding cost savings.

“I'm not sure there is an easy solution,” Hyk said. “I don't think we can have any sacred cows.”

Further complicating the challenges the district is facing is a revived effort by several towns to withdraw from RSU 20. Speaking to the issue, Hyk said he is open to the idea of withdrawal, but he wants to see the results of an independent analysis that would address the financial implications of such a move.

In terms of the education he would like to see students receive, Hyk said he would like to see an increased focus on literacy with students reading the works of authors such as Charles Dickens by the time they are in sixth or seventh grade.

Hyk also said he would like to see Belfast Area High School transition more quickly to proficiency-based learning. The state legislature passed a law in 2012 that beginning with the class of 2018, students must demonstrate proficiency in career and education development; English language arts; world languages; health, physical education and wellness; mathematics; science and technology; social studies; and visual and performing arts.

“I'm as concerned about the quality of the education as I am for what it costs,” he said.

While taking steps like further consolidating the district and looking at each budget item to possibly find savings may alleviate some of RSU 20's financial issues, Hyk acknowledged that the district could still face many challenges in the future.

“I think it's a grim picture no matter what happens,” he said.

Making sure students are getting a quality education while also trying to protect residents from significant tax increases are goals Hyk would like to accomplish if elected; he said he would also like to see the school board offer the public the chance to speak at the beginning of the meetings and at the end.

Hyk said he believes that Belfast's city council is in a unique position to help RSU 20 because councilors will have the opportunity to appoint one person to the school board. Hyk encouraged councilors to seek out a “number cruncher” to fill the third seat on the board.

Finally, Hyk encouraged residents to be vigilant and attend the school board meetings, and the finance committee meetings in particular. He said he feels the finance committee meetings are extremely important and people should have the opportunity to watch them.

“People should be paying attention and watching the bottom line,” Hyk said.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.