Home News and Features Duggan, Favorite, and Feldman Running for Two Vacant Seats on MRPS Board 

Duggan, Favorite, and Feldman Running for Two Vacant Seats on MRPS Board 

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Photo by John Lazenby.
The same three people who vied for a vacated seat on the Montpelier Roxbury Public Schools board back in August 2023 are running against each other more formally now. At that time, the MRPS board considered Tim Duggan, Thomas (Tim) Favorite, and Jake Feldman when Seiji Ohashi resigned; they ended up appointing Feldman to fill Ohashi’s seat until Town Meeting Day. 

Now, Duggan, Favorite, and Feldman are all in the running for two seats: one to finish out the final year of the three-year term vacated last year, and another one-year seat. The Bridge reached out to the three candidates to find out more about why they are running and what they view as the big challenges facing the school district in the coming year.

Tim Duggan.
Tim Duggan has lived in Montpelier for over 10 years and has two children in the Montpelier Roxbury Public Schools, one at Main Street Middle School and one at Union Elementary School. He has served as general counsel for the State Treasurer and currently is Director of the Vermont Retirement Systems, which administers the retirement systems for Vermont’s teachers, state workers, and municipal workers. He is also a member of the Vermont Systems Planning Committee, a statewide committee on electric grid system planning. In his free time he enjoys woodworking and hiking.

Tim Favorite.
Thomas (Tim) Favorite and his family have lived in Montpelier for nearly 10 years. Favorite told The Bridge “We can’t imagine living anywhere else at this point. We have third- and first-graders at Union Elementary, and we have been thrilled with how the teachers and staff have helped them learn and grow.” He works as a software engineer in the supply chain management field and currently serves as the secretary and school board liaison on the Montpelier Energy Advisory Committee. He also serves on the Lifespan Spiritual Exploration Committee at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier and has volunteered as the coach for his daughter’s teams in the Central Vermont Little League.

Jake Feldman.
Jake Feldman, the incumbent candidate, moved to Montpelier in 2005. Since then he has done everything from brewing beer to leading a crew of at-risk teenagers in the restoration of Hubbard Park Tower, for which he won the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Community Service. He has taught math at Hazen Union School in Hardwick and eventually earned a Master’s Degree in Statistics from UVM. He currently works as a senior fiscal analyst at the Vermont Tax Department, concentrating on property taxes and income taxes. He lives in Montpelier with his wife and has a child who attends Union Elementary School. 

Why are you running for a seat on the MRPS board?

Tim Duggan: I have two kids in the system, and I would like to see MRPS provide them and their classmates with academic instruction that challenges them to reach their full potential. I appreciate that during the pandemic, schools were asked to broaden their mission to accommodate those extraordinary times. I think now is time to get back to basics, focus on academics, and meet kids where they are to prepare them for what lies beyond MRPS.

Tim Favorite: I believe our children and educators deserve buildings that are safe, sustainable, and resilient. I worked on the net-zero resolution toward that goal. There are discussions ongoing regarding Roxbury Village School, a merger between MRPS and WCUUSD, and the school board’s net-zero commitments, which I will continue. I also believe that the current trajectory of tax rates is unsustainable and needs to be slowed so that members of the community continue to support school budgets.

Jake Feldman: I’ve been on the MRPS school board since I was appointed last August, and my experience over that time has been challenging but positive. My fellow school board members are smart and passionate and the members of the school community we’ve heard from are attentive and well-spoken. I’m running to finish out the last year of my term because there are a lot of complicated things happening right now at the state level that I want to help my community navigate. 

What is the biggest challenge facing the MRPS district in the upcoming year?

Tim Duggan: School finances are going to be a big challenge during the upcoming year. Issues include completing the merger with Roxbury, absorbing the impact of new state education financing policies, exploring a potential merger with U-32, addressing infrastructure needs and the results of PCB testing, and dealing with increased cost pressures, particularly with things like health insurance. All of these issues have to be addressed within our towns’ ability to pay for them. 

Tim Favorite: It is difficult to pick one, but the biggest (challenge) in the next year is likely going to be the future of Roxbury Village School. It’s heartbreaking to propose a school’s closure, and harder still for the people of Roxbury to hear about. Simultaneously, it’s clear that our district is and will continue to be fiscally stretched, and there is little that will be easily cut. This discussion won’t be easy, but it is important to listen to all sides.

Jake Feldman: I see two big challenges facing MRPS: the tax impacts of the new pupil weighting legislation (Act 127) and the possibility of further flooding at the high school. On the tax issue, the board is going to need to be strategic and creative to insulate the school community and taxpayers as much as possible. On the flooding issue, we should explore a merger with Washington Central (U-32) but, more urgently, we need to develop a contingency plan to try to minimize any disruption to our high schoolers in the event of another flood. 

All photos are courtesy of the candidates.

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