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Letter to the Editor: Leave children out of budget debate

Yes or No on RSU 9 Budget, leave our children out of it please.

This morning my daughter, a student in RSU 9, pressed me to vote No on Tuesday, Sept. 12. I asked her why she thought that. She told me that two staff members at her school told her that her school would not get any books if we voted Yes.

I support teaching kids the process, but that is not what happened here. When asked about the vote on Sept. 12 and what she knew about it she could only repeat that her school won't get books. She was upset and bothered by anybody who would be voting YES on Tuesday.

The teachers of RSU9 schools, regardless of their own personal opinion, have no business pushing a yes or no vote agenda on students. It is totally inappropriate.

Dan Patterson

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23 Responses »

  1. Totally agree. Where is the supervision of these teachers? Time to call a note of no confidence in the leadership.

  2. She got the truth. The truth of a "Yes" vote isn't pretty, but people like to pretend that there will be no consequences. "We won't get new books" boils it down to a level that a kid would understand (even though the reality will be worse). Saying it's about higher or lower taxes would be a lie. That's what many people are basing their vote on, but the vote will have no effect on people's taxes. This is purely a revenge vote because people are upset about higher taxes - which they don't realize aren't caused by the school budget. Explaining revenge voting isn't appropriate for a child. Would you prefer that they gave her the whole explanation?

  3. At least in the high school and middle school this is a learning opportunity. Students are supposed to learn how local government works, how elections operate, and what the stakes are. I believe teachers should go over this issue with their students, consider the consequences and facts, and then allow them to be activist for either side, based on what they've learned. When I was 12 years old I was out going door to door (to be sure, that was for Nixon, who ended up not having such a good term). This should be used as a learning tool, in my opinion. Students should know what's at stake for their education.

  4. @ Guppy absolutely yes theres no need to sugar coat anything for anyone. No most towns won't see an increase but three WILL. some people are more concerned with the accountability not taxes. Some of us want some truth not threats from the school board and administration. I've been over what information the superintendents office felt appropriate to send me and the numbers that have been moved around since January 31 are ridiculous. I will be bringing them with me to the next budget or school board meeting. Some explanations are in order. Hope to see you there.....

  5. Teachers never used to tell their students their personal political opinions. It was considered unethical because teachers have too much influence on their students. Times have certainly changed. I heard flyers are being handed out at school sporting events too...telling people to vote No. This is not an exercise in civics for students. It is the school ganging up against its own community. How about an exercise for students in empathy for the people in the community whose hard earned money supports the school? It is the 'me' generation and by the sounds, the school is reinforcing that in the kids.

  6. Please call your child's teacher and ask for an explanation. This is not how teachers are behaving as a whole. If the teacher volunteered the information, this is wrong. If a scared student asked the teacher what would be cut and the teacher tried to calm her down by saying "books", this is understandable.

  7. I think they shouldn't say their "political opinions," but they can talk about the impact the cuts are likely to have on the students and their education. They also can learn that the schools have requested $546,000 LESS from the community in the last two years, showing the School Board is listening to property tax payers very, very closely, and doing what we can to make cuts. There are so many things I'd have wanted to fund, but we couldn't. World languages is slashed, library spending is at about 40% of what it was a decade ago. That's real compromise, but because people don't understand the mandatory spending and the way the budget works they see an increase in the bottom line and think it's wasteful. I think students should also learn how the budget works, and what's been cut in recent years.

  8. Lindy,

    "The school ganging up against it's own community"? It's the other way around. People are going to war against the school system for "increased taxes" when those increases haven't been caused by the school system. It's a school - their job is to counteract ignorance. What did you expect them to do? Those kids have a right to know what's going on since it directly affects the rest of their life. The school is actually asking for less of your "hard earned money". The increases in the budget are for things that are legally required and it won't be paid for by local taxes. The school administration has cut so much already that your taxes toward the school system will go down AGAIN. The increases in people's taxes are unrelated to the school budget. Why don't people go find the real culprit and stop taking an axe to our children's future?

  9. Teachers and school board members, aka Fox guarding the henhouse.

  10. Mathew Billian,

    It's more like the farmer guarding the henhouse against a mob of foxes with torches and pitchforks screaming about their higher taxes (which aren't even caused by the schools). I don't personally think the hens (community affected by this) should remain ignorant of the threat. Also - do you personally know every teacher and school board member? It's impolite to insult people purely based on their profession without actually knowing them. I find people's distrust of teachers and education in general disturbing. We spend more time trying to tear down our school systems instead of building it up. It's easy to see why our academic ranking is sliding compared to the rest of the world.

  11. I use my real name. Those who don't hold no real weight with me or many others. (Both sides of the argument)

  12. I will try submitting this again. All we are saying is slow down school spending . We have been asking this for 3 years and been ignored. How do you justify ignoring pleas from the community for 3 years Dr. Erb? For once (last Tuesday) we had the majority at the budget meeting and so had control. The school has had control of that meeting for many, many years. Why is the community being in control so upsetting? It is the process in action. The School Board should be keeping school spending in balance with the community, but we see this Board going along with everything the superintendent says and wants. The community has no representation. And when we from the community have spoken up, we have been pushed aside and told we don’t understand. There is also a big conflict of interest in all of this. It is being touted that teachers' raises and jobs are at stake. With that vested interest, teachers should not be talking to students about the budget at all! What ever happened to ethics? And what is the other message the school is sending to students? ....That only they matter and everyone else is obligated to provide for them? In this ‘learning exercise' , one would hope that students are being told to at least try to understand the other side of the argument . Isn’t that what we would want them to do in adulthood?

  13. The school had nothing to do with the flyers being passed out at events. It was absolutely a parent driven initiative - flyers were created, printed and distributed by parents concerned with providing factual information to the community.

  14. Lindy, everyone on the school board has taken you seriously. I once joked that the budget battles have left board members with a kind of PTSD - people are so afraid of spending money or worried about any increase that we have debated tiny amounts, trying to cut where we can.

    Maybe, Lindy, we're telling the truth. Maybe we have cut all the fat and the increases come from things we can't control, like increased costs, mandates from the state, and unexpected special education needs. Maybe we've worked hard to get more state funding to cover those costs.

    Maybe we should be praised for cutting what we ask from property owners by $546,000 in the last two years. We have been listening, and we've been cutting things we don't want to cut (library funding is 40% of what it was ten years ago, world languages have been slashed) and not even considering things we'd like (a marching band, etc.) because we know we need to avoid tax increases.

    Maybe, Lindy, we've been responsive and listening, and many of you aren't acknowledging that. Please consider that. I know you are well intentioned and smart, but it's possible on this you could be wrong.

  15. Mr. Scott,

    I believe that in "your mind" there is no possible way "you" could be wrong. Check the latest numbers (votes), there are way more of us that side with Lindy. I think the sleeping giant has awoken.

    All the best...

  16. Dr. Erb, It doesn’t bother me when you say that I am wrong, because I am wrong only from your perspective. Your perspective is from academia, mine is from the real world. They differ. And, just to let you know, all your info and points you try to make, I have heard many times before. I have been following the school budget for 3 years and I have heard those same points from the superintendent which are then repeated by Board members. However, for me, being from the practical world, I don’t automatically believe everything I am told especially when the source of the information has a lot at stake. In such situations, it is prudent to ask for a lot of verification. That should be part of the normal review process by the Board, but I see little of that, which really concerns me. The Board just goes along with everything with few questions. Now let’s look at that $546,000 in cuts in property taxes in the last 2 years that you think the Board should be praised for. Last year $300,000 extra came in from the state (not from anything the school did) and then $550,000 that was left over unspent from 2014 was carried over. I suppose we should be grateful for the superintendent doing that, but I think most people would expect that any unspent money from previous years should be carried over and is being carried over. (Is this not the case?) Then this year, there is that windfall money that came in from the State, most of which got applied to the towns for tax relief. Again, nothing here the board should get praise for. They couldn’t spend any of the windfall money, even their ½, because it would kick the budget total way up and then the towns wouldn’t approve it. So, they really couldn’t do much with the money except give the full amount to the towns anyways. That is the practical perspective on the matter.

  17. I think that Mr. Erb has a card in his back pocket. His UMF community is actively pursuing all the UMF students to go vote against the new budget. They are sending emails to all the students to get them out on the vote. This is not right. Yes or no I don't need someone that really has no ties to my community other than 175 days of school for four years being the deciding votes on my taxes. UMF ought to be ashamed. Maybe the Farmington community should be able to vote on whether UMF should pay property taxes.

  18. Lindy (please be kind enough to refer to me as Scott). In this world there is truth, not every perspective is valid, some are wrong. I'm asking you to consider that perhaps in this case your perspective may be wrong. I'm asking you to reconsider.

    We are getting money from the state - and next year we should get even more - because recent increases in costs, felt by all districts, we aren't the only one, have burdened communities. The state is giving more precisely because people realize school districts can't handle all the mandated costs without creating unsustainable tax increases.

    I note that while people give data and explanations about why these cuts will be harmful for children, your side is very vague on what should be cut. You don't address the legal issues with special education. Again, I ask respectfully, consider the possibility that we are trying to keep the taxes as low as possible, and we've done all we could to have a budget that won't increase class size or harm students. This proposed budget will cause severe harm to students. It is irresponsible. And again, reality exists - perspectives can be wrong. Please consider the possibility that there isn't some school board conspiracy and that we are listening and trying to be as frugal as possible. I promise however this goes, I'll keep listening and looking for things we can cut without harming students.

  19. perspective is mine and yours is yours. Please consider that YOUR perspective might be wrong. Again you are saying all the same things that I have heard before. And, I did not say a Board conspiracy...I said that the Board should be asking more questions rather that just accepting everything the superintendent tells them. And again, how can the people in the community make suggestions for cuts...we don't have enough info. What falls under a grant?...what gets reimbursed? other money coming in?...legalities.....other pertinent info? That is the job of school administrators and the Board when the budget is rejected. However, a few weeks ago I did bring up the topic of CTE and high school football. A lot of schools are discontinuing football because CTE is being seen in high school players. At the time, you said the Board might consider cutting football in Sept. depending on the vote. There you are.

  20. @ Matthew Billian - Since you refused to answer Guppy's question because he used a pseudonym like so many on the Anti-School side, I'll ask the same question ... using my name. Do you personally know every teacher and school board member? It's impolite to insult people purely based on their profession without actually knowing them. I'll give you credit for this, though, at least you don't hide behind a pseudonym. We know your name. It's a start.

  21. Lindy, I do ask myself constantly if I might be wrong. Indeed, I consider that the most important trait for an adult to maintain - recognition that we all might be wrong. So many people get locked into a mindset and find it hard to change. In this case, though, all the evidence points to these cuts being really draconian and painful. I haven't seen evidence posted that even makes a strong case to the contrary.

    But however this goes, I'm committed to keep learning more and recognizing and that you and others on your "side" are doing the community a service by forcing us to consider these issues. I have real respect for you.

  22. Something is definitely wrong here! This whole thing should never have happened ! At some place in time the real "cause and effect" rule will be known of why this happened.Hopefully, it won't be repeated, but in the mean time each is blaming the other, and each believes it is right. It must have been seen that something was ready to give, and evidently no one could head it off! SAD and now the kids are in the middle of it and no one is stopping it.Where are our leaders? Our Teachers? All about "ME".

  23. Funny how people are surprised that this is being discussed in the classrooms. It is all over the internet and social media. Kids are seeing this everywhere. They are going to ask questions. They are going to be concerned.
    I remember way back in the 1970's, we were having the same problem with the budget in Gardiner. I was a student then. I remember hearing my parents talk about this as other student did. Yes, even back then, kids cared about what was going to happen to their school, to their education and the programs/classes that they loved and needed in their lives. We asked questions in school, we discussed the sides people were coming from and of course, we formed our own opinion on the subject. At the time, I remember how adamant my Dad was against the proposed budget. But, I had different feelings about what was going on. I wrote a letter to the editor in support of the budget. I dreaded the night that my dad would come home and read it in the paper. Instead, he found out at work from his boss, who said that I had written a well thought out argument for a 15 year old. I never knew how he voted, and although he never said much to me about the letter, I heard from others that he was quite proud of it. So, don't assume that this is generating from teachers....students care and have their own opinions. I know, they don't pay taxes, but they will inherit whatever the adults decide to do when they do become adults, so it is of concern to them. Hopefully, you will listen to them, respect their opinions and concerns and then vote your conscious.