Letters to the editor — The Courier-Gazette
Know the law
This morning I rose to begin my day's duties, and in drinking my coffee, read this quote in the Bangor Daily News concerning a school board meeting last night.
Here's the quote:
"Board chairwoman Esther “Tess” Kilgour said this was uncharted territory for her and said that there were no real repercussions to not adhering to the public access law unless the media made an issue out of it."
By law, every publicly elected official is responsible for individually either completing a training on Maine's Freedom of Access laws, or reviewing the materials on the state website. Some bodies opt to conduct a group training.
This should not be uncharted territory for the publicly elected chair of a school board.
Take a deep breath
It was an honor for me to serve as the representative from Thomaston on the school board.
When I first ran, it was because as a substitute teacher in the district, I was upset with some of the things that were going on. I soon learned that there is no way that the public has all the information. One reason, confidentiality. Another, decisions sometimes cannot be made if everyone is giving their opinions. This is why we have committees. For instance, the negotiating committee. They meet with a team of staff or teacher representatives to negotiate contract conditions and wages. They do not meet with all staff or teachers or all school board members as this would be too cumbersome and during negotiations there are many things that need to be kept confidential until both sides agree. Otherwise, it could go on forever.
As a school district, there are state laws and school policy that sometimes dictate how decisions are made and the direction we are to go in. There is also a group called MSMA (Maine School Management Association) that is there to serve the school boards. Most school boards also adopt the Roberts Rules of Order to conduct their business by.
I am telling you this because I am disturbed by the actions that are going on in our school district at this time.
The employees of the district as well as the school boards have laws, policies and Roberts Rules to follow as well as help from groups like the MSMA. I am dismayed to see the actions that are going on and that we are not following what is in place. We need to step back from personal feelings and look at the facts. We need to follow our own rules instead of deciding they don't apply to us but the other guy. We need to stop all these personal attacks and stick to the issues.
When we hired the current superintendent, it was unanimous. He has been there a little over a year. The board told him what they wanted and as far as I can see, he is trying to do just that. He is getting the special ed program under control. He is making staff accountable for their actions. He has come to the board with any problems and asked the board what direction they wanted him to take. The board told him which direction they would like to go in and that is what he is trying to do. Perhaps it has not always been unanimous, but it has always been majority. I cannot see any action that he has taken that the board was not made aware of and agreed with what he proposed.
I learned that I needed to remove myself from personal feelings and look at each problem as what is best for the students in this district. That is not easy. I have changed my mind several times because it was proven to me that my way was not best for the district.
We cannot step in and try to run the district. We must let the process take its course. When I watched the October school board meeting on the video site, I was shocked! Where has the respect for one another gone? When did we decide that we operate as individuals instead of as a district as a whole? Why do some think that it is only their opinion that counts, and majority does not rule?
In all of this, I haven't heard one word about the education of our students. It is all about he said she said and I don't like what you are doing so I am going to the press. Let's take a step back, a deep breath, and get on with the best education for the students and stop all this bickering and have respect for each other.
Arvilla P. Collins
We wish to express our support for Scott Vaitones, the business manager of RSU 13. We have worked with Scott as the representative of the district on our GREF (Georges River Education Foundation) Board for the past few years. Scott has been a totally dependable member of the board who has contributed a great deal for the coordination of funds between our board and RSU 13.
Scott has been an excellent manager of the funds that go toward mini-grants written by the teachers to provide additional support for instructional goals, educational resources and professional development. GREF regards the professionalism and integrity of Scott to be impeccable.
Georges River Education Foundation
Gil Harper- President
Debby Wheelock- Treasurer
I am 93 years old and live on Mechanic Street in Rockland across from the marine park so I am familiar with the work of the public works crew there. I am very impressed with their work ethic, with the cleanliness of their equipment and, what seems to me to be, their unfailing good nature.
I think we are very fortunate to have, as public employees, people of such fine caliber.
Where do you belong?
When we were kids and met a person "from away" we would often start out by asking them where did they belong? In turn we would state "we b'long here!"
The idea that someone would actually live in an area without "belonging" to it just didn't exist. Even today I find that concept hard to fathom. I have checked this concept with at least one other person of equal age but from a different area of the county and can confirm the concept and practice was frequently used in his neck of the woods (New Jersey) as well as here in Midcoast Maine. But it seems more natural to relate it to our home. After all, the country as a whole, and especially New England carries the deep seated believe while we are newcomers to this land, but are more than mere sojourners. This is "our" land from the days of early exploration. This not to denigrate nor diminish the claims of the early Indians, for they like us, have chosen this land to be ours by right of love of the hills, forests, seas and all. We are truly brothers in appreciating this land is our land. It is where we belong.
I have been fortunate to have seen much of the world while serving in the U.S. Navy. I was born in Corinth and have picnicked on the steps of the temple to Diana in Corinth, Greece from which Jason set out to find the Golden Fleece. I have stood on top of Mt. Battie, and of Katahdin, I have watched Easter morning from the edge of the crader of Diamond Head, Oahu, Hawaii. I have stood on the steps of the temple of Dawn of Bankok. I have climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan in time to witness sunrise from the summit (It was foggy). Flown my plane over the top of Mauna Loa and ridden as passenger-tactical observer submerged from the Philippines to Kaoshiung, Taiwan. Many times I have climbed to the top of Observation Hill at McMurdo, Antartica just as earlier remnants of Scott's ill-fated expedition did to look for his return. I have stood with my father at the South Pole, the second only father-son pair to do so.
After 20 years of active duty, I retired to enter George Washington University medical school and seven years later after completing residency in obstetrics and gynecology I returned to my home in Midcoast Maine, where "I B'Long."
"Breathes there a man who never to himself hath said,
This is mind own, my native land!
An it is where 'I B'long."
Corwin Anson Olds
CDR (Retired) USN
Remember the days when we had the Knox County Hospital on White Street in Rockland, and now it is known as Long Term Care for the Elderly. Now we have Pen Bay hospital in Glen Cove, which many people that live in Knox County go for health problems.
But Pen Bay has a problem which should be solved and that is the parking problem for the people visiting the sick or for doctor appointments.
How about the next meeting by the board they discuss this problem? Thank you.