A recent front-page Sunday Telegram ad featuring a Falmouth home for sale concluded with the words “good schools.” Good schools sell houses, maintain property values and attract young families. Portland real estate ads don’t hype the schools.

Portland has a rare opportunity to ensure that all elementary students attend safe schools of adequate size and equitable facilities. The City Council should support the $39.9 million bond to rebuild and renovate our elementary schools that was unanimously recommended by the Portland school board and on which voters will have a say in November.

Establishing equitable schools throughout Portland ensures that regardless of neighborhood, students have similar libraries, gyms, special ed classrooms and security measures. Improved schools could lure those potential property taxpayers who work in the city and then leave at the end of the day to pick up their children from “good schools” in surrounding towns.

Hall School may receive state funding for rebuilding and Longfellow for renovating. Lyseth, Presumpscot and Reiche are aging, overcrowded and do not entice those who can’t see beyond the infrastructure to the excellent teachers and staff. Meanwhile, only some students enjoy modern buildings at Ocean Avenue and East End.

My children attended Presumpscot Elementary with committed teachers, a diverse yet united student population and energized administration. Yet precious learning time is wasted every day as all try to navigate the limitations of an aging building.

Ninety children don boots and jackets to trek from the modular classrooms to use restrooms. Special ed is offered in hallways and storage closets. Twenty-five or more students must play safely in a tiny gym-a-caf-a-torium during phys ed, limiting physical exertion and decreasing safety.

We must support this investment in our city, our schools and our future. “Good schools” are not just a selling point but an economic necessity.

Catharine Hartnett
Portland

For senior visiting MMC, valet parking is no luxury

An article in a recent edition of the Maine Sunday Telegram (“Amid cuts, Maine hospitals still paying million dollar salaries,” July 7) listed the very impressive salaries of Maine hospital executives and doctors.

A subsequent editorial (“Our View: High hospital salaries send jarring message,” July 10) suggested that “if a hospital isn’t meeting … stakeholders’ needs, the people who oversee the operation of that institution haven’t earned their salaries.”

This statement applies to my family’s recent experience.

Our appraisal of hospitals in the local area as patients has been positive for the most part. However, we did have occasion to write to the CEO of Maine Medical Center questioning the absence of valet parking. (We never received the simple courtesy of an acknowledgment.)

In past years when visiting the hospital, I was greeted by a courteous attendant who parked my vehicle and recovered it upon my departure. It is my understanding that due to a budget constraint, this service was discontinued.

As a senior citizen, I am now faced with self-parking. Due to my physical limitations, this involves an impossible walk to and from the garage or parking lot.

Last month, visits to my hospitalized husband necessitated family members having to leave their jobs to meet me at the hospital to park and retrieve my car. Valet parking may have been a convenience for some patients and their families, but for me, and many others, it was and is a necessity.

I am perplexed that this service, so vital to so many families, has been sacrificed to “budget” limitations that seemingly have had no impact on executive salaries.

Phyllis Kamin
Cumberland

Classical radio programming thriving part of arts culture

Although deeply saddened by the news of Suzanne Nance’s August departure from the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, PORTopera is hopeful that MPBN will truly follow through on its stated commitment to continue classical music programming in a meaningful way on the morning show, beginning with a nationwide search for a replacement host (“MPBN to replace classical music host,” July 18).

It will be difficult to find a host with Ms. Nance’s extensive knowledge of classical music, enthusiasm for the Maine arts community and the ability to convey that knowledge and excitement over the airwaves, but it will be well worth the effort.

MPBN’s “Morning Classical” show is a regular and valuable part of our daily lives. It enriches and entertains us with creative programming, while also highlighting the work of many exciting classical performing arts organizations in Maine, such as PORTopera.

MPBN’s classical music programming is a vital part of Maine’s vibrant arts culture. Please keep it that way!

Ann L. Elderkin
president, PORTopera Board of Directors
Cape Elizabeth
 

Veto of BPA disclosure bill won’t halt anti-toxin fight

Over the past few years, I have become more aware of the dangers of BPA, a known hormone disruptor that babies, children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to. This toxic chemical is found in many linings of cans and jars and can contaminate the food that we consume.

Recently, the Legislature had the opportunity to help people know which foods contain BPA so that we can avoid it. L.D. 1181 would have required the largest food manufacturers to disclose their use of BPA in cans and jars.

Unfortunately, after passing the state House and Senate, L.D. 1181 was vetoed by Gov. LePage, and an override of that veto fell just a few votes short.

Consumers have a right to know what goes into our bodies, and the passage of L.D. 1181 would have helped us make safe decisions about our food and choose to be BPA-free. While I am disappointed by our governor, I know that the effort to protect people from BPA in their foods is not over.

Xuan Du
Portland