December 1, 2013

Another View: When towns don’t benefit, big school systems don’t make sense

There are ways that districts can work together without being forced to combine.

By Mandana MacPherson

As Freeport voters, we are fortunate to have another chance to consider whether or not we want to be part of a regional school unit, and this time around we have some experience with the issue.

about the author

Mandana MacPherson is a resident of Freeport.

Last time, we were threatened with fines and lured in with incentives. Neither materialized.

On Dec. 17, we can go into the voting booth and make a more informed decision.

We can do what a growing number of other Maine towns have chosen to do and vote “yes” on withdrawal from the RSU model.

This is not a vote against our neighbors in Durham and Pownal.

It is a vote for an independent town school system that can amicably share services with its neighbors without the inflexibility of a state-mandated model that constrains the process.

Since the formation of RSU 5, much has changed.

Population projections are vastly different, cost sharing has become increasingly complex and contentious, and forcing our will upon our neighbors by outvoting them in every budget and bond vote is not feeling very neighborly.

We can simplify the process and create a plan that continues to have students from outside of Freeport attend Freeport High School and Freeport Middle School.

Nov. 11’s Portland Press Herald editorial (“Our View: Time to start over with school merger law”) accurately summed up the issue of why Maine towns might be questioning the RSU model: “Absent obvious proof that the town is saving money and improving education, it’s easy to see why residents would want out.”

Administrators, the school board, the teachers and staff have all worked hard to make this consolidation work, but they are struggling against a flawed model.

I encourage Freeport residents to learn more about the withdrawal question.

You will be convinced that withdrawing from the regional school unit model is clearly the right choice to make at this time.

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