July 24, 2013

Letters to the editor: Elementary pupils merit 'equitable schools'

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).

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