Yes On 3: “We can’t afford these kinds of savings.”

Dick Dyer, a member of the Maine Coalition to Save Schools, believes the current school consolidation law should be repealed.  Large districts, with possibly the most room for savings, were given exemptions because the state government knew they would refuse reorganization.  Small communities’ concerns were brushed aside and they were slapped with penalties like disobedient children.  Governor Baldacci promised large savings from consolidation.  The estimated $36.5 million savings has not been seen.  Many communities have seen unfair cost increases.  Dyer highlights in his release why this sort of “savings” is not something cash strapped communities can afford.  Please read Dick Dyer’s full statement after the cut.

Over the last two years, the Governor and the Commissioner of Education were emphatic that the School Consolidation Law would save 36.5 million dollars statewide and another $30 million locally.  Last month, on September 17, the Commissioner now says to the Legislature that it’s too early to determine whether school districts have realized savings as a result of consolidation.  “I really don’t think it will be until the end of the year when we know what we’ve achieved,” she said.  Apparently the administration does not know if there will be any savings.

Here’s what some of our neighbors have experienced because of the school consolidation law.

The Sheepscot Valley RSU –This eight town consolidation including Alna, Wiscasset, Whitefield, Windsor, Wesport Island, Palermo, Chelsea and Somerville have voted down the RSU budget three times because all three budgets “have exceeded the $25.9 million spent on the eight towns’ school during the 2008-09 school year, before the towns became one district.”  We can’t afford these kinds of savings.

Monmouth voters approved going into a RSU only to find their taxes rose by almost $300,000 in the first year and the surplus they had set aside was usurped into the RSU budget. We can’t afford these kinds of savings.

Winthrop and Fayette voters rejected consolidating with Maranacook based in part that no savings were reported in any of the three public hearings before the vote.  Winthrop additionally faced losing the summer salary money that was set aside to pay their teachers over the summer and both communities now face penalties of $176,000 and $39,000 respectively. We can’t afford these kinds of savings.

To our south, Freeport, Pownal and Durham merged under the notion that they would save money.  Pownal and Durham have now had their taxes raised by 19% and 25% respectively. We can’t afford these kinds of savings.

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