SAD 28: How about a break for the taxpayers?

When Maine School Administrative District 28 elected to purchase the Montessori School, Camden and Rockport taxpayers paid.

When the SAD 28 middle school needed renovation, Camden and Rockport taxpayers paid.

When SAD 28 decided to build Rockport Elementary School West, Camden and Rockport taxpayers paid.

Earlier in the last decade, as SAD 28 school enrollment grew, Camden and Rockport taxpayers paid.

In fiscal year 2009-10, the enrollment of SAD 28 decreased by 5.4 percent.

In the face of that reduced enrollment, the SAD 28 budget was cut by just 2.84 percent.

Enrollment in SAD 28 is anticipated to decrease in fiscal year 2011 by another 7.4 percent.

The SAD 28 board has so far reduced the planned 2011 budget by a mere 4.2 percent*.

*Note: Before any cost increases resulting from ongoing salary negotiations.

That 4.2 percent cut amounting to $524,895 is, incidentally, below the 5 percent reduction that was the school administration’s own budget reduction goal. Were the budget reduction to reach this 5 percent figure, another $101,361 would be cut from the SAD 28 spending and from Camden and Rockport tax bills.

Citizens for Value In Education has recommended that the SAD 28 budget be cut by $945,327 or by 7.5 percent for fiscal year 2011. VIE has also emphasized, again and again, that such cuts should be made in ways that will not compromise the education of SAD 28 children. School district comparative numbers prepared earlier suggest that this budget reduction could be accomplished in non-classroom areas without harm to education excellence.

Every $100,000 change in the SAD 28 budget changes the burden on Camden taxpayers, either up or down, by $52,970. In Rockport the figure is $47,030. At the 7.5 percent budget cut proposed by VIE, Camden’s tax burden declines by $500,740 and that for Rockport by $444,587.

For each $100,000 change in spending the mill rate in Camden changes by $.09 and in Rockport by $.10. So, depending upon the assessed valuation of a property, the spending changes shown in the accompanying chart result in the changes in taxes shown in the above chart.

Were the SAD 28 board to make the proposed modest 7.5 percent reduction of its budget for 2011, the tax impact on Camden and Rockport would be significant — as can be seen in the chart.

These are our taxes that are under discussion. It would seem that the SAD 28 board is being rather callous with our money. The board was happy to spend more when funds were needed for capital projects and to fund the costs of higher enrollments. Now as enrollments fall, is the time for cutbacks to reduce and to minimize the burden on the taxpayer while retaining and enhancing educational excellence.

The April 14 Finance Committee meeting may be one of the last times to influence this budget toward a lower total prior to the June 1 budget meetings. Be there to ask questions, make comments and make suggestions.

Alexander Armentrout

Citizens for Value In Education

Rockport

Regional School Unit 13 board meeting

It is with a bit of a heavy heart that I write to you today. I attended the Regional School Unit 13 School Board meeting of April 1. I was shocked and appalled at how our public was treated by members of the board. I found it unnecessary to limit the public’s input on the very important and controversial proposal of consolidating our schools, the shuffling of teachers and the letting go of others, put forth by our board. The condescending and quite frankly, rude attitude of the board was very hard to witness. I think a bit more compassion and understanding was needed toward their public due to the subjects being discussed. It would in no way have weakened their superiority to do so. What of open debate?

Also to have put before the board an advisory referendum concerning the consolidation of our schools, I believe was a fair, honest and proper way to show the board public sentiment of this proposal. To have that shot down because as one board member said, they didn’t have enough information to give the public, and to have other board members agree, was ludicrous reasoning. For how on earth can they implement this change in just over a year and do it in a way that will be beneficial to our children, if they do not have an inkling of that information now. What I thought was made clear, was that this was an advisory referendum on the idea of school consolidation as presented by the board, and it is a sad state of affairs when the right to voice an opinion is squelched by an imposed time constraint and the lack of willingness by the board to let the public speak with their vote.

I have taken Ms. Kilgour’s idea of building a survey on surveymonkey.com to find my own base of opinions in hopes of presenting it to the board. I have e-mailed the link to community members in my personal address book, posted the link on my Facebook page, as well as asked the towns comprising RSU 13 to post it on their Web sites. I am doing this as a private citizen, so that our community members can have more of a voice, and am in hopes that many people will fill it out so that a broader overview of sentiment can be gained. The link for your readers, if they are interested, is http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PT6RMCD.

I encourage your readers to view the board meeting on cable Channel 11 when it becomes available and form their own opinions of the representation they have.

Lastly, I don’t know if it was just me, but the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance was the loudest and proudest I have heard in a long time. I know the room was full, but I certainly heard individual voices.

Angela Vachon

St. George

Knitting together a caring community

Last week, participants in Ashwood Waldorf School’s “Knitathon” presented New Hope for Women three hand-knit blankets. These blankets, assembled from knit squares made by the school’s students and staff and parents, will be given to children of our clients. We know that the blankets will be heartwarming as well as body warming. Children who have witnessed domestic violence, who have experienced traumas and transitions in their lives, will greatly appreciate receiving a gift so lovingly crafted.

We at New Hope thank our friends at the Ashwood Waldorf School for their creativity and their support of our work to end domestic and dating violence. This project is the kind of activity that knits people together into a truly caring community.

Glen E. Rainsley, development director
Stevie Colburn, services director
New Hope for Women