Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: Still paying for the lawyer

We all make choices—hundreds each day. What to wear, what to eat, who to support. The recent choice made by the RSU 58 School Board calls into question where its priorities lie. The School Board chose to pay lawyers more money instead of supporting its hard-working dedicated Mt. Abram teachers who educate our students each day. The choice came after a fact finding process, which was conducted by an independent panel, ruled to support teachers and their contract proposal. Now, the community should know the Board made another choice to spend more of your tax dollars on lawyers to fight the independent ruling, even though that’s not what the community wants.

At the budget meeting last spring, our community voted almost unanimously to significantly reduce the legal fee line in the budget. The motion was not intended to oppose all legal fees. Instead, it was
aimed at the recent practice of hiring an expensive Portland lawyer to conduct contract negotiations, something school boards around the state do all the time without the help of an attorney. More than 100 people voted in favor of the amendment, while only a handful opposed it.

It is appropriate for the Board to seek legal counsel on important issues and it is in everyone's best interest that the contract reflects the law; it should also reflect the Board's priorities. However, is it necessary for the Board to hire a lawyer to do the actual negotiating? What would have been a reasonable consulting fee now exceeds $100,000! For years Board members have negotiated the contract with advice from the district's lawyer at no major cost to the taxpayers. Why has the Board abandoned this method?

We can’t change the fact that the checks are cashed and the money has entered the Portland-area economy rather than our own. Now that the Board has filed for Arbitration taxpayers can expect to foot the bill for more legal fees expected to be in the tens of thousands of dollars, all because it didn’t like the ruling from an independent panel. That’s like a child asking Mommy for a cookie, then when she says no asking Daddy to see if he can get a different answer. Is that really how adults should act at taxpayer expense?

Mt. Abram teachers don’t think so. They remain willing and eager to accept the Fact-Finding report, which stays within the budget, and negotiate directly and freely with the Board, at no additional cost to taxpayers. In other words; teachers have already agreed to meet the Board's cost limits. How can the Board justify spending more money on a legal battle instead of educating our children? It's a question only the MSAD 58 Board can answer; hopefully, we aren't the only ones asking the question.

Mt. Abram Teacher's Association

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7 Responses »

  1. The best cost saving measure for the taxpayer, and ,teachers in the long run: Dump these unions. They are the biggest obstruction to just about anything and everything thats productive.

  2. Wrong again, dux..., but then you see unions and liberals and conspiracies in most things that seem contrary to what YOU believe.

  3. Actual. Who said anything about " conspiracies". Anyone with an IQ over 80 that reads the news can see what the unions ,especially PRIVATE sector unions are worth. Answer, Not much.Just look at all the steel mills we used to have, look at Detroit, Run by both liberals AND unions,( an even worse combination) The big dig, etc. As for liberals...well........They are good at spending money,......but only if its somebody elses,, for instance,...........the taxpayers money.

  4. Dux, what you and the rest of those who bemoan the loss of industrial jobs miss, is that before unions, those jobs were miserable, horrible low paying and dangerous. You worked until you dropped and you owed your soul to the company store. in today's world those jobs would all be below the poverty level and lack any benefits. If you get sick, you can't work, somebody else takes your place on the line and you go home and die.
    Who the heck would ever want to go back to that?

    What really led to the mills dying out was electricity, trucks and highways.
    Mills used to be built where there was water flowing for power and transportation.

  5. Actually.i meant PUBLIC sector bad

  6. I'm retired from 30 years working as a journeyman equipment operator for local #3 and have not a bad word to say about the Operating Engineers Union except for the dues, for some one just starting out now, I can see how it can be ruff but then on the other hand most other jobs are the same way. Benefit's and a good pay scale doesn't hurt either and some one there to always vent at was a great thing too, got to know the shop steward pretty good too.

  7. union or no union people in power will do as they damn well please it does not matter what their constituents want