June 18, 2013

Letters to the editor: Story overlooks impact of school cuts

On June 12, the Press Herald reported the passage of the Gorham School Department's FY2014 budget, outlining the 2.2 percent overall budget increase.

click image to enlarge

A teacher leads a class at Gorham High School in 2008. A reader says the Gorham School Department’s 2013-14 budget trims spending in ways that will hurt students.

2008 File Photo/John Patriquin

While this is important information, it tells only part of the story. Missing from this article was any information on the cuts our schools are suffering.

A quick look at the budget document available on the Gorham Schools website reveals that our vote to approve the school budget was a vote in favor of $642,845 worth of cuts.

Or, in more relatable terms, the loss of two full-time teachers, 5½ educational technician positions, one technologist and the reduction in hours for all educational technicians districtwide, from seven-hour days to six-hour days.

Other cuts are included, but the bulk of them represent people -- educators who won't be there on the first day of school and whose students and colleagues will suffer because of it.

We have come to view education as a cost, an expense. But this is the wrong way to look at it. Education is an investment in our community, and it always pays off.

When education is well-funded, crime rates go down and property values go up. A vote to cut the school budget is a vote against the well-being of our community.

It makes our town a less desirable place to live, lowering the value of our homes, But more importantly, it hurts our children; it limits their opportunities and their chances for success.

Like the 45 percent of voters who did not approve the budget, I wanted to vote it down, too -- but not because we're spending too much. When it comes to investing in our schools and our community, and preparing our children for the world that awaits them, we're spending far too little.

Tara Connor

Gorham

Gun permit mandate backer should reread U.S. history

A Voice of the People writer of May 30, Jeffrey Lord ("Gun permit mandate honors unarmed Mainers' rights"), is quite confused when it comes to gun rights, it appears.

His lament that those unarmed have no right to freedom from guns would indicate that he does not remember history or the important rights backed by our founding U.S. Constitution.

Does he not know that when seconds count, the police are minutes away? Does he not know that gun owners have been protecting him and his family all these years because in a pro-gun state like Maine, the bad guys know the risk of being shot is greater and therefore do fewer such crimes?

He further stated that that the U.S. has a serious gun problem. Does he not know that there are 22,436 gun laws across the nation already? It isn't a gun problem, it is a law problem!

It is apparent that those who think as he does have a very narrow view of the world and have no idea that gun-free zones are where the perpetrators know they are free to strike.

I think that most gun carriers do because they know that the police cannot be everywhere. They also carry concealed because to do so openly creates many police confrontations that are caused by busybody reports of offended unknowing citizens.

Instead of being offended that those who have met the intent of the concealed-weapons permit law, Mr. Lord should be thanking those honest gun carriers who have taken the time to train and meet all the requirements of the law.

Most gun owners would rather not have to jump through all these expensive hoops, and would not have to, if it were not for easily offended busybodies who think the world should revolve about their liberal views.

George A. Fogg

North Yarmouth

New Orleans offers lesson to Camp Ellis on jetty spur

To the residents of Camp Ellis who believe the Army Corps of Engineers will have a solution to the problem it created in the 1860s; that is, creating a jetty to facilitate shipping (last used for that purpose in 1940):

Let me tell you how eerily that scenario reflects what happened to New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina.

In its wisdom, the Corps of Engineers created the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Canal, a 65-mile channel to aid shipping. This channel was seldom used.

However, this same channel was the artificially created path that allowed the Gulf waters to rush through the Lower 9th Ward, responsible for hundreds of drowning deaths and unbelievable destruction.

I lived in New Orleans for 37 years, including 2005, when Katrina turned my adopted city into a likeness of Dante's vision of hell.

So good luck, Camp Ellis. Let's hope the Corps can keep the ocean at bay with a proposed jetty spur! Nature does not suffer well the arrogance of those who would challenge her.

Linda Cornish Rioux

Old Orchard Beach

Small sales tax increase won't drive away visitors

My wife and 1 have been in our Mesa, Ariz., manufactured home for 13 winters. The real estate taxes on our home are $150 a year, not $600 to $800.

Why is that so? The sales tax in the city of Mesa is 8.05 percent, and the town next to us, Apache Junction, charges 8.9 percent for sales tax. (Both of these totals include state, county and local sales taxes.)

These areas realize that hundreds of thousands of seniors come storming down from Canada and from Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota and other Northern states for the winter months. We all pay the tax because "it is what it is."

Here in Maine, we should realize that the many visitors who enjoy coming to Maine in the summer and winter can help us pay a small increase in our sales tax from 5 percent to 5.5 percent. I don't want to hear that a half a percentage point increase is a burden on us poorer folks.

Carroll Guest

Windham

 

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