The RSU 5 withdrawal, also known as Moving Freeport Forward (MFF), is now in full gear with the public knowledge sharing that will lead up to the special election in Freeport, Dec. 17. Prior to last Tuesday’s election, the focus was rightfully on the RSU 5 renovation bond. MFF chose to not take an official position on the renovation to allow that to go through the needed political process. During that period, MFF collected nearly 500 signatures for a referendum on Freeport’s withdrawal from RSU 5. To be clear, Freeport’s withdrawal referendum on Dec. 17 is not related to the renovation bond. After five years in the RSU, the towns of Durham, Pownal and Freeport have never collectively approved a single annual school budget, or capital expense project. We believe that Freeport’s withdrawal from RSU is a necessary and prudent step.

The high school bond passed by 72 votes – a margin of 1 percent. In Durham and Pownal, it was rejected by 64 percent of voters. I don’t think any of us can argue that strong-arming two neighboring towns into capital investments they disagree with is a prudent way to run a school district – or a decent way to treat your neighbors. In addition, a scaled-back high school project would result in significant savings. In a May 9, 2012, school board meeting, the architects presented an option that showed Freeport’s cost for a 590 seat high school at $4 million. This compares to the $16.3 million bond we are currently forced to fund. A basic renovation without expansion would likely cost less, and result in significant savings. We have other options, and they can save us money.

The school board clearly stated that they would not spend a single dollar until the town of Freeport had the opportunity to vote on future participation in RSU 5. This public commitment was heard loudly and clearly by all who voted on Nov. 5. The withdrawal vote will occur and give the chance for Freeport to decide on the future of our schools.

MFF will continue to advocate for a fair and transparent process, to give all the voters of Freeport the information they need to make their decision. We believe that a stand-alone Freeport school district can be accomplished in an economical way and will result in a more flexible and nimble system. A scaled-back high school renovation can replace the expansion and reduce the current tax burden.

We invite all Freeport residents to join us at the public meeting on Dec. 3 to learn more about why Freeport should withdrawal from RSU 5. Join us as we advocate for a return to local control.

Jack Matheson


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