The burden of proof for the success or failure of the consolidated school system should not be placed on those advocating for its dissolution. Rather, it should be placed on the regional school unit itself. During the last several months of debate, RSU 5 has not proven that it improved academics, increased sports offerings, or created cost efficiencies. The outcome is clear – at Freeport High School there are 40 fewer (13 percent drop) Freeport students today than prior to consolidation, and 20 pecent of Freeport’s 2014 eighth-graders did not matriculate to our high school.

Our academics have not improved since the formation of RSU 5. Freeport’s schools had to “level down” their programming, in order to help fund the administration for a three-town system. The result for Freeport’s K-8 schools has been fewer ed techs, interventionists, gifted and talented staff and other support positions. Morse Street School alone lost eight of these positions. These educators are as important as classroom teachers, and impact programming.

Instead, over the last five years, tensions have increased between three neighboring communities, and friendships have been strained. Each May, residents of all three towns are sequestered into the high school gymnasium for the annual school budget meeting. We all compete to get more supporters in the room to either tank, or approve the budget.

We should take a step back, absent emotion and rumors. The third-person view shows the current system is not working as intended. This state mandate created an additional level of bureaucracy, which had a heavy impact on Freeport’s K-8 schools. Instead, we have constant friction between all three communities.

Voting yes Nov. 4 is not a gamble, any more than staying in. It is our opportunity to return local control of our budgets, and find a better model of cooperation.

Jerry Antl


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