Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: They won

The people who have worked tirelessly over the last three years to reduce the school budget have failed. Why? Because there's more of "them" than there is of "us." And yes, it truly is a them vs. us situation.

THEM equals the school board, the administration and the teachers with strong unions to back them. They’ve won.

US equals senior citizens with limited incomes, young couples just starting out life in a new home, the working people who have supported this district for decades and people with limited discretionary income. They’ve lost one more time.

What's worse, all the supporters do not care! They got what they want – their raises, their benefits, their programs – wasteful or not – and all in the name of "The Kids." Look how they rallied the kids with threats to eliminate music and sports – stuff the kids like.

Several Board Members have said "the taxes didn't go up." That's partly true. Residential property, for the most part, did not go up. But it was because the state came through with an increase in Homestead Exemption. And then the State came through with some additional money in late July or early August. Tax reduction for residents did not go down because the school budget went down. We’re looking at another $880,000 increase. Businesses in Farmington got hit with a 3.5 percent increase. (Yes, I did the research) And business owners vote!

So what happens next year? Hold on to your wallets. Because the school does not intend to spend less. Nor be transparent. Plus we’re going to have to start paying on a bond issue of $300,000+ that was voted in in June.

Again, thank you to all of you who supported our efforts to reduce the school budget. And when you get your tax bill next year, remember Concerned Citizens for Sensible Education and our efforts to make the school more accountable. Because once we go away, spending will escalate and tax bills will go up and waste will continue. Be prepared to tighten your belt again.

Nancy Porter
Concerned Citizens for Sensible Education Member

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55 Responses »

  1. To YES....The State does pay this district more because of the economics in this area. So because of that, RSU 9 should spend more to bring up the cost-per-student so we are comparable to who? What cost-per-student is acceptable? The problem is when any of the State money gets cut back, it falls on local taxpayers to make up the difference. This is why spending needs to slow down at RSU 9. A million dollar a year increase is unrealistic for this area. Remember when LePage cut back on education funding? Consequently, property taxes went up. Similar things can happen whenever there is a change in Augusta government. Nobody knows what the future holds. Yet, despite those State cutbacks, RSU 9 school officials did not slow down spending. And then, when we had to start paying in towards the new high school debt which to start, cost local taxpayers almost an extra million dollars a year, they still didn’t slow down spending. That is the problem. This superintendent has had no regard for those significant changes and the additional burden on local taxpayers, which remain today. Instead, he has insisted on spending as usual while aspiring to be like the big districts.

  2. Great point you raise Lindy, I am glad you made it....what cost per student should we be at?

    Certainly below the average cost per student (we are well below the average) With inflation increasing at 2.1 % and the school population up by 3.6%, what should we do?

    With those numbers, and the proposed budget for next year our cost per student will go down. Is dropping lower OK with taxpayers? How much lower should we be than the surrounding districts? What do you think?

    This budget: reducing local taxes, and the cost per student going I say, not yes for the Board approved budget.

  3. Spell yes for the Board proposed budget...reduced local taxes, possibly a reduced cost for student, vote yes!

  4. To Yes...That is a question for you and school officials. What cost-per-student amount is acceptable? I think it is a fair question but I don't expect an answer because then they would be putting a limit on things. My thoughts on cost-per-student is that where we fall on the list compared to other schools has no significance. For one thing, if you look at the data, the more students in a school, the lower the cost per student. Also, certain things are factored out. One thing that is factored out but RSU 9 local taxpayers are paying, is debt. Locally we have been paying close to a million dollars per year towards the debt...that is not counted in the cost-per-student. So it is unfair and a cheap shot for officials to continue to use it to try to shame the community into supporting their budget. The real question should be is the cost-per-student reasonable considering the area's income levels and economics. And, who cares what other districts do. Our school officials should be paying attention to RSU9. I wish we had a superintendent who would roll up his sleeves, rally his employees, and dig in to provide the best education with the money that is available. Instead they ask for more and more money while they look over the fence at greener pastures.

  5. Lindy: I am sorry you do not know our school officials very well. They are on 24/7, 365 days.

    Look at the service increases for special education to see where about half of the increases over the last three years has gone: Directly to support students who need the most support.

    Look to the voters of RSU 9 who strongly approved the building projects, several times with each project.

    Good luck, stay healthy, and support our community and our schools! Vote yes for a 2% drop in local taxes.