Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: Time to hold schools accountable

If you’ve lived beyond 40 years, you’ll remember schools being quite a lot different
than they are today. From the way students and teachers dress to the way education
was presented, schools 40 years ago were a lot different. Funding for those schools
was also different. Towns paid for most of the costs of running a school. There would
some financial assistance from the State, but if a new school was built, the towns footed the bulk of the cost.

Fast forward to 2000. Most everything is different, particularly when it comes to education.

Between the mid-1960’s and early 1970’s, the towns were expected to consolidate because a larger school meant a better education. Some of us would argue that. It certainly is a different education. With that enlargement came less control by each town. Towns were sent a bill for education at the first of each year, and each town had to figure out how it was going to pay that bill.

In the beginning, the costs rose, but not to a point of choking the taxpayers. But as each year passed, the cost became greater and greater. The relationship between the schools, the schools’ administrators, the towns, and the taxpayers grew apart, until no one knew anyone anymore. That made it very easy for the administration to pass on larger and larger costs to the taxpayers simply because they didn’t know them, and frankly didn’t care. It’s easy to tax someone you don’t know. The taxpayers became nothing but a revenue source.

Years ago, when budget meetings were held, every employee of the school was expected to attend, as they do now. Few, if any taxpayers came. There was no point. Thirty taxpayers couldn’t overturn anything because they were outnumbered. And the budgets went up and up. The schools/administrators knew had they the majority, so they could pass anything they wanted and they did.

Then a bill was passed in the Legislature to allow towns to VOTE on a school budget at the town level. If you were a taxpayer, you could vote for or against a school budget. Many towns just passed the budget – teachers came to vote just like they did at the budget meeting. And the budget passed. But that isn’t happening now. Towns, with less revenue coming in, and larger tax bills going out, have increased the tax bills and the “people” are starting to take notice. In towns all over the state of Maine, school budgets are being over-turned. That holds true in our own district.

But because the taxpayers are finally standing up and voting NO on a budget, the supporters are very upset. Why wouldn’t they be? They’ve steam-rolled over the taxpayers and the towns for years, and NOW they are being stopped. And the idea that they can’t get their own way, after years of being spoiled, makes them very unhappy.

After 40 years of being taxed and taxed some more, there are some people who have had the courage to speak up, stand up, and be counted. And maybe, just maybe the school will finally see that we’re sick of paying up when the teachers’ and administrators’ salaries are the only ones going up. This opposition will continue until there is more instead of less transparency in the budget.

Now that the budgets have exceeded the $30 million mark, that expense is killing the towns. The state is stepping in to help the taxpayers with increased Homestead Exemptions, some tax relief on income tax, and some increased reimbursements to the schools toward expenses. But what hasn’t happened, and is so frustrating to those of us who are paying more and more each year is that the schools themselves have not cut back on their spending, nor do they intend to do so. Last year when the schools received some extra funds from the state, it was to come to the towns for tax relief. I predicted, at that time, the school would continue to increase their budget, thinking the taxpayers would forget since they got some reduction in their taxes. Well, this taxpayer DID NOT forget. And better yet, there are others who didn’t forget either. And the budget was voted down on the first round. Now they’ve reduced the budget a measly $344,000, banking on help from the state again this year. And then the supporters scream that the State is supposed to fund at 55 percent. RSU9 has been funded closer to 57 percent. So why does THIS school system think they should get more? It’s not because they’re producing a higher percentage of brilliant students.

The budget WILL get all the support it needs for spending from the members of the School Board because there is only one "POOR" person on the board. The rest are retired professionals, or they are married to working professionals with incomes that far exceed the median incomes of most of the taxpayers. I just hope on the next referendum vote on Aug. 3, the people who are sick of being railroaded by the school will show up and make their voices heard at the polls by voting NO again. It’s time for the schools to become accountable.

Nancy Porter

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65 Responses »

  1. Nancy: A lot has changed in 40 years!!! Nothing is for free....My kids education is top priority to me. Except the fact that the budgets in most schools go up every year. I think if you had children in school, you would feel differently about your tax bill....just my opinion!!

  2. Well stated Nancy. In the last eight years the RSU9 budget has increased by almost ten million dollars. Yikes!

  3. Well said ! SAD 58 is also going the same route! When is enough - enough!

  4. Probably not very accurate on some things and dead on about others. Particularly in light of the visciousness of social media and on-line anonymity, I think it takes a lot of courage to speak up in favor of something as well. The posts I take the most seriously are the ones that are signed. I don't have all the answers to our problems, but I doubt that factual well-thought-out solutions are here in the Bulldog. My solution, as often stated, is to vote no. Now, next time, the time after that. The school budget amount that will get my "yes" is $31M, just as it was two years ago.

    Tom Knight

  5. we should probably just do away with education altogether. judging by most of the bulldog comments, it hasn't done us much good so far.

  6. Forty years ago kids were not feral. Forty years ago, parents were involved with their children, teaching them respect, giving them breakfast, buying them clothes and shoes, teaching them how to tie their shoes, the days of the week, the months of the year, life skills. Parents have relinquished their responsibilities to whatever they deem more important... screens, drugs, alcohol... you name it. The burden of raising these kids has fallen on the schools. And that cost money. Thank god someone is there to do it in their place. And, they are supposed to get an education to boot!

  7. Well said Nancy,and I agree with your statement Tom Knight.The school budget has outgrown itself because not enough people vote.It is past time to rein in the spending.If you care about your tax dollar please vote.

  8. " My kids education is top priority to me. " As with most parents, but why is it that the property tax payers are expected to pay for someone else's expectations? I did NOT rely on the public education system to teach my children much of what they know. We did that as parents.
    I would like to see property tax payers pay for a " basic " education, the building, utilities, basic educational material.
    So many other parts have just gotten out of control cost wise.
    Nothing is free, correct, the cost of educating a child both in time and dollars should be seriously considered before having any.
    If a parent wants Harvard level academics from public education the parent should pay, not me.
    Sports, bussing, food, all the " little extras " that have become standard add up to a fortune.
    I will be voting no until some serious changes are made to public education and the way it is funded.

  9. THE TRUTH is here and nothing but the TRUTH ! The story from beginning, but not yet to the end is what has happened and is happening. The student population , a third, 1/3, less than a dozen or so years ago and the budget , a third, 1/3 higher. There needs to be a restructuring of this district. Somewhere out there is an administrator that can 'fix" this broken system. We need a board that will listen to other voices than those who feed them a story of WANTS AND NEEDS. NANCY, we're with you on this and all "NO" voters will return on AUGUST 3rd to again refuse to accept what is TOO MUCH .

  10. It is important to recognize that there is no automatic one to one connection between spending money for education and pedagogical success, i.e. the more we spend the better the education, or if we spend less we’ll have less beneficial educational results. There is more to it than spending money.

  11. Wish this would get through the board's mentality! Been proven over and over, but even college people don't know it! SAD. They think money will make kids achieve and the same old reasons crop up that aren't always true.

  12. The continued increase in the school budget is just simply NOT sustainable. The doubling over the past 10 years should be a sign that the train has left the tracks.

    We are constantly told that things change and we must move on and not live in the past. Invest in the kids.

    OK, I propose UMF do their part by paying property taxes like everyone else. Given they have 30% of the taxable property in Farmington, and routinely take more property. Why should they get a free ride?

    For the folks on fixed incomes, every property tax increase, is simply a decrease in our incomes. How about giving us a break?

    Enough is enough and the revised budget must and will be voted down again!

  13. The cost of welfare and education exceede roughly 82 percent of all Maines tax revenue. This has happened because taxpayers haven't said no to liberal legislators. Now that Mainers are taxed out due to mills closing , business leaving the state, etc. we take notice. Schools should be streamlined to education only. 8 to 5 with no extracurricular activity that aren't independently supported. Want the the big bucks in schools and welfare, move to Mass. The Maine taxpayers are done picking up the tab for failing schools and welfare nation. Have a good day and if you are on unemployment or welfare don't miss the job fair this week.


  14. From my earlier comment on Al Diamon's column:

    "So, why can the referendum to tax those making more than $200K be cast aside although it was passed by the voters?
    "...LePage got what he wanted: the elimination of a $20 million lodging tax increase, and 3 percent tax increase on the wealthy. Many progressives saw the final negotiations as less of a compromise and more of an ultimatum that went against the will of the voters.
    "The voters wanted more progressive taxation to pay for public education," wrote Jon Hinck, a former House Rep. "Due to the determined obstruction of our Governor and his band of House Republicans, we got spending commitments with no revenue aside from what is raised from Maine's middle class under the unfortunate current tax scheme. The Governor's win at the game of chicken harms the people who put him in office."
    For now, the question that will likely remain in the minds of many frustrated Democrats and Senate Republicans is simply why? Why did the House GOP risk the livelihoods of working Mainers to protect the financial interest of the state’s most wealthy? Why did they push so hard to cut the education investment in half? Why did Rep. Tom Windsor (R-Norway) say that there’s nothing unusual about these budget negotiations?
    And most perplexing of all, why did they vote against a compromise which nearly every Senate Republican supported, and included every provision they originally wanted, without a clear explanation?
    “It’s the million-dollar question,” said Russell. “These folks got everything they wanted, but they still shut the government down and can’t articulate why they did it. It’s disgusting and unconscionable.”
    “If you want to build an economy that works for everyone, you have to have a system of government that represents everyone, and right now we clearly don’t.”

  15. Well, there she goes again ... Divisive Nancy Porter, hearkening her old battle cry of, "well, back when I was a kid, the world was a magical and cursive place," pitting seniors like herself against families of school children, disparaging fellow citizens and taxpayers she does not know, and claiming a lack of budget transparency when she knows from having served an appointed temporary position on the School Board that it is not. Same old complaints, same old tired tactics, same old tiresome nastiness.

  16. I can't agree with everything you stretch and tie together here but you have an underlying point. I hope that any major decision about education and funding is to be decided based on legitimate facts and outcome based data and not just a passionate anger towards anything labeled a progressive issue. In hindsight you are bold to speak out about your passion and I can respect that.

    Some perspective about the cost of teachers pay: I remember working at a fast food place and being so exited to get my 3 month raise of .15 cents per hour. My father was a teacher from the late 70's to the late 90's. After 7 years in school; living well under the poverty level with kids incurring a huge amount of student loan dept at a high interest rate, and yearly professional training and certificate fees out of pocket to the dept of ed, I am now a public school teacher (in another district- but I live and pay taxes here).

    I make the same amount that my Father made in the 80's. Inflation and inadequate pay has raise the cost of living granted that we now get to buy cheap plastic stuff at a big box store when are parents had to buy quality or make it themselves. Farmington is not a cheap place to live, just look at what renters charge and compare that to more rural towns. Anyway, my point is that teacher pay may be more than someone who works by the hour it is not up to par with the amount of personal investment I have risked a lot to get here and I'm fine with that because teaching is not all about pay, it is about public and community service.

    The conundrum:
    I see 20% of my paycheck disappear into state, fed, medicaid and SS. I spend my classroom budget sparingly to provide what my students need. This last year alone I spent 200.00$ out of pocket to provide above and beyond needs. My point is that I pay State and Fed taxes which should be there to provide State and Town services. This is why we need revenue sharing to help offset the local tax burden. It was not my choice to cut that revenue sharing to help offset property taxes but it happened. Also, your local taxes are set by the town tax property tax assessment. This means the more you own the more you pay (just think about that). You can see this anyway you like but in general it means live within your budget. There are ways to reduce your own tax bill without sacrificing the quality of living in an amazing place like Franklin County. I don't know how much you travel but if you look around you will realize that the town, school, and county wide services we provide make this a unique community. I've always felt that and the second we downplay the things that make it so, we will begin our economic down fall. I don;t know about you but I like living in a vibrant community with a well balanced economy for business, professional, laborers, and education. If

    I'm all for a talk about wasteful spending and actual cost to the tax payer but this is every town and county dept. If you are politically focused on the schools then please be specific and ... Know exactly what you are talking about by citing sources or direct info that we can cross check to see if you are legitimately describing a real problem or an exaggerated one. I can point fingers and make "Alternative facts" all day but what does this say about me? What bothers me about this whole conversation is how you fold everything into this national political rhetoric slew of sweeping statements that sound good on the surface but have no real meaning. You don't like administrators pay, heard that on on talk radio. Why and what solution do you have that would legitimately work? You don;t like teacher pay: What do you propose that would work. I can honestly say that I will not apply for a teaching position even though I am highly qualified, because of these hostile attacks on public service.

    I know better than to think any of this will be considered and reflected upon so I wish you luck and god bless the future generation. They will need it.

    I respect your right to share an opinion and right to vote. If the school has to lower the budget it will happen and teachers, parents, and kids will pick up the pieces. . . let the commentary gas lighting begin.

  17. This is 2017, not 1980. This district's cost per pupil is actually on the low end, and there have been numerous cuts in recent years. Special education funding - something that wasn't really around when many of us were in school - is mandated by the federal government and most of the increases have come from that. If you look closely, while people complain in broad terms, nobody can really point to where there is over spending. Our salaries (teachers and administrators) are below average, even for districts in our area. Again, the cost per pupil is low. Any REAL metrics that measure what we spend shows that we're frugal - that's why those who want to attack tend to use emotional broadsides. That doesn't mean we can't cut more - we can have larger classes, fewer resources, we can cut salaries and continue to lose good teachers. But the impact on the education of our community's children will be real. But hey - it's up to the voter!

    Good news: the new budget passed assures that we won't have property tax increases this year. Next year will likely be a decrease. For those who don't just want to demonize the schools, this means that the dilemma between tax increases and adequate school funding is finally being eased. Some of those convinced that the schools spend loosely have shown they are not open to questioning their perspective. Most of us understand both tax and education concerns, and are willing to listen to each other.

  18. I am a single parent who had a child at Mt. Blue High School. My property tax bill is an entire month's salary for me. I gladly pay it. Here's why:
    I have been a teacher since 1990. I have taught in public and private schools all over the world and in several states, including Maine. I have never seen a better school than Mt. Blue High School. Teachers burn the midnight oil for kids. Those teachers are expert educators who do amazing things with all of the students. If you don't think so, ask to spend a day there, you will see the money well spent. Go to Foster Tech, visit the Special Education department, the foreign languages, the advanced math classes, the English classes, and the theater and music programs. Schools like Mt. Blue are what make this country great.

    Sports programs change the lives of students--sports can motivate them to stay off of drugs and alcohol, to learn how to work with others, to live healthy lives, to learn how to work hard and achieve goals. The sports at Mt. Blue are the foundation of many healthy, happy lives of students who have gone through our schools. I believe that our community feels a part of the sports programs at Mt. Blue, too.

    If we didn't all pay for bussing in RSU 9, most of the kids couldn't get to school. I think that's pretty obvious in a rural district like ours with hard winters and families where most parents work one or more jobs. We have amazing bus drivers here! They know all of the kids and care about each and every one. Ride along for a day if you think bussing should be cut.

    I agree with you Nancy about budgets being transparent and reasonable, and also that citizens should have a say. Just don't lose sight of the high quality schools our taxes do pay for. Thank you.

  19. A good,coherent and well reasoned letter by someone who actually knows what they're talking about.A welcome change from the endless blather from those who get their opinions and ideas from angry multi-millionaires on those talk radio creepshows.Thank you!

  20. P.S. Thanks,SD

  21. SD makes the same pay as his father did in 1980. I wonder if the administration makes the same pay now as the 1980's?
    So in some respects it still is 1980 not 2017, maybe more than we think.

  22. Pay now by educating them or pay later when they're living in your basement or worse yet in jail.

  23. Obviously makes s comment that would lead us to believe the school system makes people successful. Therefore throw money at it.
    We have been,,
    So what's the problem?

    The kind of "education" that keeps people out of jail isn't necessarily found in the school system.
    Often,, this is where they "learn" bad behavior.

    Let's be honest about this.

  24. While there is no doubt, and I'm sure many statistics to prove it, that a better education helps pull people out of the poverty cycle, this does not prove that it keeps anyone from living in a basement or out of jail.
    Many " educated successful " people end up in jail.
    Many very smart successful people have also have very little formal public education.
    So maybe we should quit with the " if this budget doesn't pass our kids won't get an education and you vote no then you are anti education". It serves no purpose other than to divide.

  25. To SD...We are all feeling the effects of the rise in cost-of-living versus wage stagnation. It is a nationwide problem and has been all over the news/internet. But, in looking at the RSU 9 teachers' contract for 2017 on the school website, teachers seem to be doing pretty well compared to others in the community. The starting salary for a teacher just starting out with 0 years experience and a bachelor degree, is $34,900. If you do the math....180 day work year....7 hour work comes to $27.70/hour. After a year on the job, that goes up to 28.39/hour and increases every year for 31 years. And, most of the teachers in RSU 9 have many years of experience and so are in the upper levels. Few in this community make $27.70 per hour even after many years on the job. In addition, teachers can get numerous and generous stipends. Teachers have first dibs on many coaching positions which all have stipends. They also get stipends for being on committees, overseeing student clubs, going to meetings, having a masters degree, etc. Then, teachers have summer months off. WOW, what a luxury. And so if a teacher needs more money, in addition to making extra money from school stipends during the school year, they can work at a summer job. Most teachers are working 7 hour days and 180 days of the year. The tendency is to compare teachers' salaries to full-time , year-round salaries. That is not a fair comparison. It should be noted, most people have to work full-time and year-round to make ends meet in today’s economy.

  26. SD, thank you for your well-reasoned, coherent response. I especially appreciate your portion, "I know better than to think any of this will be considered and reflected upon so I wish you luck and god bless the future generation. They will need it." Perfectly said.

  27. I am not a teacher but I have worked in a school before as support personal. Yes, some extras duties are stipend-ed, but the school day for teachers does not end or begin when the bell rings. There are contractual meetings, planning, parent meetings and committee meetings. Not all duties are paid extra for. They are built into the salary. There is grading to do. A high school teacher could have over hundred students to grade. Some parents and students have no boundaries, teachers get stopped at the grocery store, interrupted during their family time. I wasn't a teacher, but I had to shop out of town to avoid all of this, myself.

    Yes, Lindy, teachers get summers off but not with pay unless they take a second job. Teacher work on re-certifications, take classes and many are in the schools teaching summer programs. It is not as cut and dry as it seems.

  28. Lindy,

    I rarely respond to direct criticism of teacher salaries here on the Bulldog because a) I'm a teacher and my comments are usually dismissed because teacher salary critics say, "of course he's going to defend his wallet" and b) the comments here are often expressed by people who don't include their full names and well . . . it's an odd thing to defend one's own livelihood against the anonymous. Or perhaps you know what this feels like? I shouldn't assume.

    Like most professionals I know -- and some I don't -- teachers are paid a salary for fulfilling a contracted amount of work. We get paid by the school year and for the work of educating the students placed in our trust. We don't get paid by the hour, the day, or by the student. If you think that should change, there are legislators you can talk to about introducing policies that change it. (You have already done the math which will be appreciated.) Because of that salary, we have to do the job not within a 7 hour day or the 180 and day school year. We have to do the job. And that means planning and correcting in the evenings and on the weekends. That means spending significant chunks of the "free vacations" learning new skills, getting to be better at our jobs, and gearing up for the next stretch of contracted time.

    "And so if a teacher needs more money, in addition to making extra money from school stipends during the school year, they can work at a summer job."

    And I do work summer jobs -- actually additional year-round jobs -- and I have since my first year teaching. In fact, I've never only worked as just an educator, because I've never made enough money to feel like I could provide for my family or my kids a better quality of life than my parents provided me -- which for a long time was how most people I knew judged success.

    See, my dad has been a retail manager and then small business owner my entire life, my mom, a secretary. Middle class, hard working, church going, folks. Two years ago, they were able to provide a means for our extended family to take a modest beach vacation in Myrtle Beach -- limited eating out, lots of state park visits, lots of meals in the rental kitchenette -- that I could not, despite nearly 20 years in the classroom and both my wife and I working full-time jobs while driving used cars, living in a refinanced farmhouse on a half-acre of land, and little debt. (You don't need those details to get my point, but my car and home ownership has also been attacked in the Bulldog recently so I thought I'd toss them in there for flavor.)

    When I thanked my folks for the trip, I was a sobbing mess because I knew I truly could not do for my own family what my folks provided did for them. But even moreso, I know that when my own kids are grown it is unlikely that I'll be able to pay it forward. Unless I keep working two or three jobs -- not just in the summer, but all year long -- as I do, it will be even more unlikely. I'm not looking for pity here because there's no need to do so. I'm just trying to be real about what I've always used to measure my success as a husband, a partner and a dad and why I get gnarly when people tell me I'm paid too much for the work I do and that I don't deserve it. (I get even more gnarly when people suggest that some of my colleagues don't deserve what they get paid.) .

    I hustle. I work hard. My friends and colleagues in the profession also hustle. They also work hard. Some make more money than me doing the same job, but in a different district. And that's okay. It's how the system works. I get to work in an amazing school with outstanding students in a community I love. It's worth it to me.

    Also, I'm imperfect. I screw up. Wanna figure out a way to dock some of my pay when I do so? Totally fair. Work with the school board, legislature and governor to come up with a system. If it's fair and evidence-based, it is probably quite reasonable.

    However, when I read, "Most teachers are working 7 hour days and 180 days of the year," I take some serious exception because I don't believe your statement based in substantial evidence. I am around most of the teachers of Mt. Blue High School and many of the teachers in the state of Maine a great deal of the time. And those folks are working 9.. 10.. 12 hour days at least five days a week and several hours on the weekends. (Many hourly employees on a 40 hour week get two days off per week and do not have to give their work much thought unless they choose to do so.) I don't have time to keep a more accurate clock-in, clock-out, so perhaps I'm being something of a hypocrite here. Lindy, I have to admit -- if your goal was to get to me and bring out some of my worst side as a human, congrats. Well played.

    So yup, I may be doing well compared to others in the community who are working hourly jobs. I prefer not to compare apples to oranges because we not doing the same jobs. Just as you may find it unfair to call teaching a full-time job, I find it unfair to compare the work of education to working retail or food service -- both of which I have experiencing doing and hold the utmost respect.

    In the words of Click and Clack, there you go again, having wasted a perfectly good chunk of time reading Dan Ryder's words in the Bulldog. I've done a fairly good job holding my tongue as of late here. And this time, Lindy, points and kudos -- you got me all kinds of underbitey and riled up. That's saying something since I've been a lot better about that the past year or so -- ask my friends and my students; they'll tell you. 2016-17 was a much less underbitey year in Room F215 at Mt Blue Campus.

    And perhaps that's the thing that gets me -- Lindy, Buckshot, Jesse and the anonymous like here on the Bulldog. While I write these words to defend the profession I love, as well as my own paycheck and those of my friends and loved ones -- which feels super weird -- you can say, well, anything you please, without being held accountable for those words. That goes against what I teach my students about the power of language and what I teach my own children about responsibility. I may rarely agree with Bill Reid, Nancy Porter or Tom Knight here, and at the same time I can respect how they own their words and opinions. We can agree to deeply and fundamentally disagree.

    I'm also a verbal processor. And now that I've come to the end of this Scott Erb-esque missive (my brother in wordiness) I realize that I'm not as mad as I was before. Instead, I feel a little lost, a little confused, and a little sad, because it's been a long time since I knew the fear and worry that compelled me to remain anonymous when it comes to expressing my opinions in public -- especially opinions with a direct and human target.

    That must be a very difficult way to live day-to-day, no matter how much or how little money you make.

  29. Lindy, Thank you for your rational presentation of important facts.

  30. Most of you people are missing the point. Teachers are paid well in this district. If you don't like the pay, then move on. Quite simple. There is always some one to take your place.To say if you do not spend more will take education away from the kids is totally ignorant. One director tried to raise money for the music department and was shot down, however the same ones that shot it down voted to hire more people! Mr. Erb claims the district is frugal. How can you explain a million dollar increase each of the last three years frugal, when many districts are cutting their budgets. By the way, if you drive up the Whittier Road to go this state of the art building, why isn't the edge of the fields mowed. Total disrespect for the students and tax payers.

  31. Mr. Ryder,

    While I still have issues with the budget; I have always respected you. I appreciate your passion and bluntness which is conveyed with a real name.

    True respect. My former teacher.

  32. Dan, I would like to advise, "Don't feed the trolls" but I am sure these comments get your back up. I'm sorry you have to deal with it. I have two kids going through the district schools and I am constantly seeing the work that goes into preparing the classroom, meeting with parents and colleagues, training, etc. including in the summer. My husband has a good (not great) salary and he too works a second job to try to stay ahead. It's a professional job but the second isn't! And not once has he complained about the school budget. I work two part time jobs and raise the kids. I see the needs in the schools and my kids see for themselves. Go spend a day as a volunteer or sub and you will get the picture quickly. Honestly, i do not know how our bus drivers don't get into acvidents given the behavior of students on the bus. This us vs. them mentality is only understandable to a point. I feel like we are supposed to apologize for working FOUR jobs so we can afford a decent life. And we pay taxes and we donate to the needy left and right. But we expect a great public education for our kids. And we expect our kids to in turn be good citizens, give back, and work very hard at school.

  33. Lindy, look a bit further and find most teachers are in the $40,000 and $50,000 range. Now let's look at some in each school getting $57'350,$59,750, $57.750 AND add on benefit packages of $21,912, $24,931, $26,939 and there more than a few realizing $75,000 to $84,000 a year! The average teacher salary with benefits is $63,000+. Teachers in most districts have options on receiving payments. Maybe in 26 checks a year or fewer with a lump sum for the summer months. Anyway, not bad for Maine with a B.S., OR B.A. Especially when both husband and wife teach. This information comes from the RSU 9 list of employees under instruction which gives pay, benefits, and retirement benefits 2017 and 2018 Fy.

  34. To the wonderful teachers/educators/staff of this district and beyond: I apologize for the misdirected and uninformed comments that disparage the profession and all the efforts and hard work that go into helping young people develop the skills that will enhance their futures.

  35. Lisa, thank you.

    You have very reasonable expectations regarding what you put into our district and what you expect in return.
    I don't see my comments as "feeding the trolls." People have their points of view and while it would be far more productive to come together and explore solutions through empathy and understanding, some folks -- on both sides of the issue of school budgets -- just haven't been able to put those differences aside.

    As someone who has used hypnotherapy and well-proportioned prescription medication to address his anger management, depression and anxiety, I know how exhausting it can be to go through the day to day with so much anger. I'm fortunate -- I rarely feel that anger these days.

    The assertion that my colleagues only work part time and for 7 hours per day set it off. I expressed my piece and similarly I'm quite at peace now having expressed my frustration.

    It's a sad state of the economy and our culture that two working parents working multiple jobs feel like they need to do more. It's one of the reasons I'm trying to teach students to think like entrepreneurs, to explore ways to be successful financially while doing meaningful and fulfilling work, and to be prepared for a work environment that isn't anything like those of the 60s, 70s, 80s or even 90s.

    It would be fantastic to have some more dialogue around outcomes from our schools that would make folks in our community feel they are getting their return on investment. And to have this dialogue based not on one or two anecdotes, but on some real consideration about what students need to be successful, what this community needs to thrive, and how schools can be part of those two pieces coming together.

    I had a wonderful conversation -- two hours plus -- as a result of my last comment on the Bulldog. I've also had a number of people approach me on the street and in stores with their thoughts -- from both sides of the issue -- and its been insightful and helpful. Face to face. Improved understanding. I hope to have more.

  36. Dan and Scott, DB should have a word limit on comments. My swiping finger is raw from getting past your blather.

  37. The point I was trying to make is that teachers don't have it as bad as we are told over and over again by the administration and most on the school board in order to justify raises every year. They tell us how teachers are underpaid compared to other districts, and that salaries are below the average. And, how many times have we heard how cost-per-student is less than other districts? And, it is our duty, in the name of education and our future, to pay more to the school to get in line with other districts. Reality check here, too many in this area can no longer afford to pay their property taxes because they have gone up so much in recent years due to the huge increase in the RSU 9 budget. All these people making comments against the school budget are in the same boat. We are not enemies of education; we are just trying to survive. How do we get that through to this school district? Schools have to be in balance with the community. We are not comparable to other districts economically, yet we continuously hear how we are not doing our part for our kids, like other districts. When does real consideration for the retirees and others struggling financially kick in for this school district? They talk sympathetically, but continue to spend beyond our means. Our school used to be part of the community. Unfortunately, by continuing to ignore the community, this school administration has made it; school versus the community.

  38. Lindy,

    Most liberal roads lead to other people's money. Welfare and education costs are destroying the middle class in Maine. We created a monster with these endlessly increasing costs which apparently cannot being reigned in without the world ending. Hey folks, Maine has reached the tipping point where we have to starve the beast if we are to survive with the assists we have available. If you can't pay for all the bells and whistles, let's figure out what we can do without. Are the heroin addicts, Somalia welfare surfers, police,and fire services worth cutting our huge education administration costs, sports programs, and transgender accommodations in grade schools? All things should be in balance when making financial decisions. Watch the screaming start when you start to chip away at the established gravy trains. These decisions are coming and kicking the can down the road is how we got in the mess we are in. Have a great day out there.


  39. @ Marie E.
    I just read all 38 responses and I don't find even one instance of someone disparaging the teaching profession or the efforts and hard work and yada yada. I did see several comments, including yours, disparaging the motives of those who criticize the way the education business - yes, business - is being run, at the expense of many, for the benefit of few - and I don't mean the children.

    I did see many comments expressing frustration with a system that treats the public as just a cash-cow for public education.

  40. I have heard the claim, discussed here, that RSU9 spends less per pupil than other districts, hence we need to up our spending. There is a factor that most forget when they consider this statistics “argument” and that is that those districts, likely, have had a decline in the number of student they serve. Those districts probably do not cut back expenses even though this happens. This makes it appear that they are more generous than RSU9. I don’t know how to check this decline in enrolment possibility, but I recall that some districts have experienced declines in student enrolment. Statistics are tricky.

  41. Dan, a few advantages you have to protect your precious job and paycheck are a liberal school board loaded with people who make or spouses make enough money to not care about tax increases each year, an administration that puts salary increases first in every budget, the right to vote in one's own pecuniary interests at budget meetings,and the right to ERBALIZE on how wrong the public is to question the spending and tax increases caused by RSU9 each year. These are a few of the issues that anger and frustrate the guy or gal that pays you. Another issue for another time would be the quality and achievement of the English program at MT. BLUE.

  42. Lindy and Dan, thank you for bravely sharing your honesty and thoughts. These are the kind of perspectives that lead to meaningful change.

    I feel that I need to clarify: Lindy, I'm not doubting your assessment because this is how it appears on a contract I would just like to give perspective. As a teacher and someone works a second job, I have yet to only work a 7 hour day and I don't know a single teacher does. My day starts at school an hour and half before my contract to prep and work on required state teacher stuff. This means I leave home very early. My day begins at the bell and teach from 8-12 without a bathroom or other break until my 20 min lunch and then it's back to non stop classes until 2:30 ish. My average day ends two hours after the school day when I leave the school to drive home but then picks back up (sometimes late into the night) to do more prep for the next day. I run two after school clubs by volunteering my time for the kids who want to stay. We teachers donate part of our paychecks to emergency funding for student needs. This is all above and beyond contract. I know many other teachers who do this and run sports booths, fundraisers, school events... all volunteering. I remember thinking about these assumptions of teachers this winter and thinking, "I've been working a stressful 50-60 week since school started and this is why summer is not really a full vacation. I'm putting those hour in now." This summer I'm in a full-time class for one month to fulfill ongoing state requirements. If you ask a salary worker at the hospital if they only work 40 hours a week, I'm sure you will hear the same thing about nights and weekends above and beyond the contract. But in empathy with your story, I too have loved and worked many jobs and struggled to get by in this community. I still do. The overbearing debt I have accrued in FED students loans will be paid back three time the amount borrowed. Does any of this come back to our schools? I work very hard for salary and for my students.

    Unfortunately this conversation is time and place less. The last few years we have seen a major shift in the way schools and communities receive support from our own tax dollars.

    It's frustrating and we do need to figure out ways to successfully fund our schools and community that will balance out the cost of living. Franklin county is not a cheap place to live but it is an amazing one. I for one would not like to see it turn into some dystopian landscape because we value jails and parking lots over education. We are tough and when the times get tough we will weather it by working towards solutions not burning by burning the farm.

    Pete, the only response one can have to your comments are "Get your tinfoil hats ready!". This is the type of absurd demolition ideology building narrative that will dumb down the conversation so that nothing is produced but anger. Great political tack-tic and I'm sure it ensures some blind rage voters to vote for you but we don't need Russian trolls to influence public issues in Frankin County. I pay taxes on my income, property, SS, Medicaid, and I make hefty interest payments to the Fed Dept of Ed. So how is public money only your money? What is your contribution? Who do you receive your income from? Who exactly are you to sum up a complicated system which you don't seem to fully understand with with fear- pressure statements? Shortsighted ideology is strategy of a propagandist and I know you understand this.

  43. Agree with apples and oranges--teaching is a skilled, professional job. It is not cashier or handyman or housekeeper...which do not require the same level of responsibility or education.
    Why do you want teachers to be taken down a few notches financially? Is this truly just about taxes or is it also about envy? That is what I hear in the tone of many comments.

  44. SD you're not the only person nor any other teacher that works 50-60 hours per week. I've been working those hours for 20 years making much less than you and your colleagues. I have children in RSU 9 and some of the things they tell me about what happens at school tells me many teachers should be replaced !!!! My son will be having a teacher this year that has used the system to keep her job. I know a former teacher that was forced into retirement for less than what this teacher has done his name was Dan DeRaspe one of the best educators RSU 9 has or ever will have. It's not that we are against education or the teachers but you're not the only people in this area that deserve cost of living increases every year, many people havent had one for man many years just because of the economy. So many companies cant afford to do so because of health insurance costs or because they are simply trying to stay in business period. Like I said in my first comment I will be at the next budget meeting. See you there.

  45. The stats on spending and comparisons - that show we do have a frugal district - are here:

    You can download and compare districts in different years, check out stats. Suffice it to say, one can't dismiss it by a wave of the hand saying "maybe other districts aren't cutting funding when they lose students." That's silly - and the numbers show it. And really - there hasn't been any evidence given of flagrant or unnecessary spending. It doesn't exist!

    The argument that "teachers get raises and others don't" is misguided. First, many others do get raises - some don't, most do. Second, we're in a capitalist market economy. The market sets salaries and wages, and the market demands we be competitive or we lose good teachers. That said, we are still below average for the state and for districts in our region - this budget doesn't change that (and salaries are set by negotiation, so even if the budget is cut salaries won't be reduced). Teachers are professionals who are well trained, must continue training during their careers, and have the awesome responsibility of educating our young. To me having good teachers is like hiring a good doctor or lawyer - you need someone who is up to this very important task, and recognize that it costs money.

    All that said, if people really think that even with the state help, meaning NO TAX INCREASE due to school assessments (and almost certainly a decrease next year) we can't afford this budget, then I respect your no vote. Just don't say the schools are spending flagrantly - that's been debunked.

  46. For all those concerned with pay..maybe its time for a real discussion on what actual jobs pay in Maine....hmmm

    This site is just a summary of thousands of jobs, and pay based on years of experience.....Look! people get paid a lot more, as they gain experience in Maine!

    Why not have an intense discussion, based on factual at a about the economy of Maine, and how to get even more jobs here that start in the $40,000 dollar a year range, an higher...They do exist......

  47. Reality vs ideology. If the supply of money can't keep up with the demand for money, the demand has to be decreased, unless the supply can be increased. Same for schools as businesses or families. People can't spend what they don't have. As the song says "You can't always get what you want, ........." Another old song, "And when you ask them, "How much should we give?", all they ever answer is "More, more, more, more!"" On the other hand, we could do as some of the commenters might suggest, and just raise the Minimum Wage to $15-$20/hour nationwide and then you could AFFORD to give the schools what they want, right?

  48. "I just read all 38 responses and I don't find even one instance of someone disparaging the teaching profession or the efforts and hard work and yada yada."

    I'm not at all surprised, considering the source.

  49. So just wondering .. have you all considered what it would cost you to pay an elementary school teacher an hourly wage per child in his or her care... for 7 hrs per day for 180 days? Because let's face it..most of the folks here are thinking that the schools are glorified day cares ..therefore each child must be paid for and accounted for. Each child is an individual client actually. A separate business account with the school system.

    So let's just say that there are 20 kids in each class and the teacher gets paid per child min wage. Because when you pay for Day Care, you pay per kid. Min wage has just gone up to 9.00.. [When this first circulated back in the 80's it was done on 5 bucks an hour w/ equally astounding results] So 20 x $ 9 x 7hrs = $1260/day [ BTW... Babysitters in the Farmington area are currently charging 10 to 20 dollars per hour and rates increase depending on amount of children. info found on best babysitters in Farmington website ]

    Now $1260 x 5 days a week gives me a healthy pay check of $6300 gross a week. Now that would have kept me teaching a lot longer... yup, I could have managed to stay in much longer.

    So let's see that $1260 per day x 180 days required pupil days not including required teacher days would be $226,800 gross.. Why that would make teachers qualify for the 3% above 250k special tax.

    Earlier I mentioned this circulated back in the early 80's and 90's under the guise of yes, pay me babysitting wages... It was based on 5 dollars an hour per student. Even today, with the same 20 students, a teacher would get 700/day, 3500 per week, or 126k for the 180 student year [all gross pay].

    A teacher does get a BA or BS for a teaching degree, has to pass national certifications and then continue to take course work so that they can renew their teaching license. You think nothing of paying your doctor 135 dollars for a 15 min appt. Your lawyer a 400 dollar retainer fee and then 200+ per hour for their services. Your mechanic for your car you are paying 40 to 80 dollars per hour and your plumber and electrician are equally expensive ..45 to 150 depending on what the job is...

    And what do they all have in common? Not a one of those other professions, lawyer, doctor, plumber, electrician, mechanic, your hair dresser, could be doing what they are doing today if they hadn't had teachers in their lives who showed up to work every day and worked. It wasn't about the money. It wasn't about the prestige. It was about the kids that showed up every day and walked through the door and sat down in all shapes, sizes, and readiness to learn.

    It is so sad that the most noble profession on earth, that has the role of educating and inspiring the minds of our future , is looked down upon by so many. Treated as public SERVANTS, threatened frequently w/ I'm a work for me.. I can get you fired. You get asked by others... How can you work with kids all day? They drive me nuts? You LIKE THAT age group.. what is wrong with your head? Oh you teach the "tards" Why are they even in school... and yes those comments are still floated around about Special Needs students by people who are insensitive to others' needs.

    I could go on, but it is late. My rant is over. Good night.