Portland Daily Sun Says Repeal Consolidation

The Portland Daily Sun recently released their November 3rd voter recommendations.  On the issue of school consolidation repeal, Question 3, the PDS recommends a YES vote.  A yes vote will repeal the current consolidation law.

School consolidation has been a quiet issue here in Portland.  There is a good reason for that.  Portland did not have to consolidate.  Portland’s large size allowed it to receive an exemption from the state, thus avoiding the troubles many districts have face.  Portland was able to avoid inflexible rules, penalties, and other headaches felt by communities that were not large enough, or did not have enough pull, to be exempted from consolidation.  That doesn’t mean Portlanders, and all those in Southern Maine, shouldn’t take a hard look at the consolidation law and hopefully realize it is unfair, unequal, and not working.  Read the Sun Daily’s full opinion after the cut.

This is not a hot issue in Portland for a very simple reason: We opted out of this mess in a hurry. Bigger districts could do this because Augusta let us off the hook, knowing that nobody here is going to tolerate Augusta making us merge school districts.

On the surface, the idea is appealing: Reduce school administration costs by creating more regional school districts. It’s easy to say “hey, this doesn’t close actual schools” and strike a blow against administrators. It mostly impacts rural districts with declining enrollment.

For Portland voters, this should be a philosophical vote. If you favor regionalism over local control, Augusta solutions over community solutions, bigger school systems over smaller school systems, then by all means vote for the district consolidations. If you believe local is better, then help your country cousins keep their districts and pray the state mandates are enough of a wake-up call to prompt community-level responses to school budget challenges.

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