Tuesday, March 2, 2010

SAD 63 TEACHERS & SCHOOL BOARD WANT THEIR CAKE & ALL THE FIXIN'S

Anyone looked at the latest school newsletters in SAD 63? Seems the School Board and teachers want to take their "budget" to the taxpayers to vote take on increased taxes so that the teachers can have pay increases and to avoid any teachers layoffs.

"Say What?" you ask. As though the taxpayers in Eddington, Clifton and Holden are flush with loose cash these days - what with the $167,000 tax penalty hanging over our heads from Augusta because the School Board has done absolutely NOTHING all year to get any kind of an RSU or AOS started, much less close to a taxpayer-approved vote in time for the mandated July 1, 2010 deadline. Or the $125,000 taxpayer-share of the lawsuit settlement the Board entered into in order to settle the lawsuit with the former superintendent.

How about the teachers take a 5-10% paycut to help retain whatever teachers might be facing a layoff? The taxpayers have been taking it between the eyes for year after year while the SAD 63 budget has been going up and up in spite of taxpayer cautions of what was coming - what has arrived...that the State was going belly-up as far as paying its share of public education costs in this state. Did SAD 63 heed the caution? No.

How about the teachers' union taking a cut in union dues to help out their members? Don't think this writer will hold her breath on that idea. The union's primary goal is to collect more money - either through more individual dues (through pay increases) or more members (as in more hires regardless of student/teacher ratios that are no longer justified).

So some teacher positions may be eliminated. Look at the data. Student population in this state has significantly reduced but class size per teacher stays small. Used to be 35-40 students per teacher with higher testing results. Now there are smaller classes and the test results are lower, too. And this state spends over $11,000 per student per year. SAD 63 teachers are paid at a higher rate than teachers in the Orrington School District according to Ray Hart, SAD 63 Interim Superintendent.

SAD 63 teachers should be happy just to have a job. If their pay scale were lowered by 5% they'd still be better off than if they were unemployed - like many of the taxpayers in our three towns, or the ones trying to live (and pay taxes) on their social security income alone.

If YOU have an opinion you'd like to share with the School Board, GO to one of the Budget & Finance Committee meetings at the Holbrook Middle School on Hwy 46 - 5:30PM (scheduled to be SURE it would be convenient for those taxpayers who work until 5PM, of course):

Wednesday - March 3, 10, 13, & 24

OR - attend the School Board meeting - Monday night, March 22 and SPEAK UP during the Public Access at the Beginning and End of the meeting. Maybe YOU'LL be able to get something done. For sure the Board has a problem doing anything - especially for any of the taxpayers who elected them.

5 comments:

  1. More on the newsletters: Looks like the "Principals Column", where this news is located in the newsletter, was probably written in the Business Office - since all three district schools seem to be puting out the same message (and uses the Business Manager's special language). Although the figure quoted in the Eddington School edition is a shortfall in the amount of $800,000, it doesn't reference the $125,000 from the lawsuit settlement. Does that mean the shortfall could be $925,000?

    While the principals are encouraging parents to attend the Budget & Finance Committee meetings on Wednesdays this month, this writer is encouraging ALL taxpayers to attend. The number of taxpayer families in our towns is a minority number. The majority population is probably the retired, older population who is trying to take care of its parents, trying to live on retirement income, and tired of being the scapegoat for a spendthrift school district.

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  2. I would encourage you to go into these schools that you believe should have classroom sizes of 35-40 students per teacher. I would like to see you spend a day in a classroom that large. I stayed in this COMMUNITY not for choice of high schools I stayed for the teachers the school and the things they teach our children. These teachers are teaching our future leaders. I understand you think they should take a pay cut of 5-10% but if they take the cut are you willing to take the cut too in services you receive? I know I am not willing to have my children pay the price. I also know when I am older and on a fixed income I will realize that the kids that are in school at that time are the FUTURE. We want our children to come back to the community and give back then they see or hear things from people like you and you wonder why not as many of them give back. I know times are tough with everyone no one is doubting that but guess what with out a solid education these kids will not be all they can be! I would like to leave you with this thought if you think Orrington does much better with a school budget I encourage you to move there and give them a big taste of what you think COMMUNITY AND EDUCATION is all about.

    Tina Hinkley

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  3. The vast majority of Maine students LEAVE the state once they have finished their education here - whether it be high school or college. They don't stay here because they can not earn a livable wage here; toom any businesses have been driven out of this state because of this state's irresponsible government.

    Those individuals who are retired and living on a fixed (and usually meager) income are not in a position to earn any more, certainly not in a position to earn the additional money to pay the ever increasing property taxes that are forced on them because the state goernment doesn't pay its share (certainly not the 55% that the voters directed their state income taxes were to be used for). For over two years voters and taxpayers in the towns within SAD 63 have been warning that this financial situation was coming. We have been telling the School Board, Central Office and those teachers/parents who did should up at least to the Public Hearing for the projected budget (since they don't attend the School Board meetins) that the budget needs to be held - not expanded. No one listened. So now we are faced with an $800,000 deficit - and, according to Superintendent Hart, it will be worse next year.

    There is NO MORE taxpayer MONEY for increased property taxes from those of us who are retired. We have many who have lost their homes. It is time that the teachers and staff share the bullet the rest of us have been forced to bite these past years.

    Yes, the current school room size is too small for 35 students. But, there used to be good teachers who could teach that many students - and could teach them very well. We graduated and earned college degrees and went on to productive and commendable careers and lives. So, if our current teachers can't do that, then maybe they aren't working as hard as their predecessors did. And the current crop are paid much better.

    On the other hand, maybe the extra costs should just be born by the parents of the students if they think the issue is that important. It is their children after all. On the other hand, if you were at last Wednesday's Financial Advisory Committee meeting, perhaps, you, too, heard the first steps being taken to close the Eddington School. Think of the number of teachers who won't need to be teaching in SAD 63 at all when that happens.

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  4. Well Rusty you struck the nerve, I'll say that! As a parent, select person and writer of blogs I am in somewhat of agreement with you. Its funny how the cuts come quick to the NON UNION employees of SAD63. But I also posted some ideas on my blog. We are under student - teacher ratios, maybe we should increase the class sizes and reduce a few teachers, especially in this tough times. In no way can we afford more taxes, buts it all a ploy and scare tactic from Hart and the office. The minute you talk about cutting teachers - watch out that is the Holly Grail. There are good things with the SAD and bad things, I just wish they would be honest and look at some other ways of doing things. Things like after school care and tutoring like Otis, timely bus service, security and video on busing, open the school for community use, allow more volunteer mentoring programs after school. Why is it that scores from private academies and homeschooled are exceeding public schools in Maine? Is it because it has become all about ME? I talked with a few folks that work there about job sharing and you thought I was asking for the moon.

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