Support Sophie Warren

To the editor,

I am writing this letter to support Sophie Warren, who is running as an Independent from Scarborough for the Maine House of Representatives, Coastal District 29.

She will be on the ballot Nov. 3. I will proudly cast my vote for her.

Sophie is an educated, energetic young woman who will work hard for our town in Augusta.

She worked last year for U.S. Sen. Angus King in Washington, D.C. She learned a lot about collaboration and teamwork.

I met Sophie recently and found her a thoughtful, well-spoken candidate. She talked about helping our economy rebound from the coronavirus, about protecting Scarborough’s beautiful natural resources and about working to improve access to health care to all.

A veteran of the Vietnam War, I was impressed to hear Sophie talk about her grandfather, a World War II Navy pilot. She realizes many veterans are in their 70s and 80s and need good health care and property tax relief.

Sophie Warren has my vote for Maine House of Representatives, Coastal District 29. I urge my fellow Scarborough citizens in voting fo this candidate on Nov. 3.

Sam Kelley

Anne For Maine

To the editor,

Our vote goes to Anne Carney in the July 14 primary. Last winter we witnessed Anne working at the heart of legislation putting the needs of Maine people first in health care, schools and the workplace. The bill she sponsored, and is now law, regarding safe closure of tank farms benefits our District 29 directly but also safeguards all of the other places in Maine that have oil storage facilities.

Anne is a focused listener, a thorugh researcher and a careful thinker. Her legal training and long record of public service help her see several sides to the issues. Anne’s experience in the legislature, the committees she sits on and works with and her open problem-solving style will make her a vital part of the 130th Maine Legislature, which will face so many extraordinary challenges when it can safely convene.

Dr. Richard and Louise Sullivan
Cape Elizabeth

School budget needs to consider the entire community

To the editor,

There are at least three very powerful reasons to vote NO on the July 14 school budget referendum:

One: Total taxpayer funding for school operations and capital will increase by $1,249,000 or 2.6% over the current year. In contrast, taxpayers will be paying $194,000 or 1 percent less for municipal operations and capital in Fiscal 2021.

Two: The school budget includes the impact of a 4.8% average salary increase for teachers effective September 1. This is based on the just-signed teachers contract that provides a 15 percent wage increase over three years. How many working or retired Scarborough residents are expecting their incomes to grow at anywhere near those levels?

Three: The school budget includes the use of $700,000 of rainy day funds or fund balance to get down to the 2.6 percent increase. Without that infusion of reserves, the total taxpayer funding of the schools would have increased by 4.1 percent.

The School Board seems to have lost sight of the fact that the schools are part of the larger community. As such, the Board needs to consider the real world impact of tax increases on those who are paying the bills. This is particularly true this year when many Scarborough taxpayers were hit with huge tax increases last year and are now confronting the financial challenges and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.

A NO vote on the school budget will remind the School Board that they have an obligation to the larger community as well as the school department.

Steve Hanly

Vote NO on the budget

To the editor,

The Town Council and Board of Education, at a minimum, should provide the taxpayers of Scarborough with no property tax increase this year. Scarborough residents have seen their hours cut, lost their jobs or closed their businesses. This will continue through 2021!

Lodging and restaurant businesses were less than half full over the 4th of July weekend; a weekend when No Vacancies signs are the norm. Result. – Tens of millions of dollars of lost State tax revenue; revenue no longer available to fund Town activities. And a loss to local businesses and local wages.

Look. We are in the midst of a pandemic and a level of economic challenges not seen in our life times. Our leaders can do better. This is not a time to increase taxes. Vote No on Friday, Monday or Tuesday.

Larry Hartwell

Proposed budget is fair

To the editor,

The Town Council has worked hard to approve a bare bones budget in these difficult times. I applaud their effort. Some voices would like to have seen fewer cuts in the school budget (me amongst them) while others have set some sort of “Zero” standard in their messaging.

This budget is both a fair compromise and one that accentuates tax relief for those that really need it. Councilor Catarina advanced a change in the Senior Property Tax Relief program to increase the benefit from $600 to $750. This means that homeowners who are over 65, lived in town for at least 10 years, and make less than $50,000 will see their taxes go down. Nearly 400 Scarborough households participated in this program last year, with an average age of 77 and an average income of $19,000.

In difficult times we need to make sure we protect those most deserving of protection. Thank you Jean Marie for your leadership when it was most needed.

Bill Donovan

Vote for school budget

To the editor,

I want to factually clarify the misinformation and misunderstandings within the community related to the recently ratified and signed professional school staff contract for 2019-2022.

A recent LTE said the contract negotiations took 18 months, which is false. Our first meeting was on March 7th, 2019. Our tentative agreement of all remaining fact-finding issues was reached on February 26, 2020, so the contract dispute was just shy of a year by two weeks.

In school year 2022-2023, the state of Maine will require all teachers to be paid a minimum of $40,000.00. In the last year of their 2016-2019 contract, Scarborough teachers made a minimum of $38,067.00. Delaying the raise cycle in response to COVID-19 merely kicks the can down the road and puts the district at risk for violating state statute.

Our community has been underpaying our school staff for a long time, so the rhetoric this winter and spring that the current school board wanted to stick it to our wonderful educators is unequivocally false.

Here is some publicly available data that anyone can find with a little digging. Fact – COLA’s for 2013-2016 were 1.5%, 2.0%, and 2.5%. COLA’s for 2016-2019 where .5%, 1.0%, and 1.5% with some additional longevity steps. This school board’s first and last proposal was higher. So the reality is that prior boards have been under-investing in our educator salaries for quite a long time which has put Scarborough in a position of playing catch-up to surrounding communities. This contract attempts to begin to rectify the disparity, but it will always be a moving target since districts are not always on the same contract cycle.

This new CBA makes up ground, but Scarborough remains in the middle of the pack. According to publicly available information from The MEA Educator Teacher Salary Guide for 2019-2020, Scarborough is ranked 6th out of 14 Cumberland County districts with a new starting pay at $40,063. The Cumberland County average is $39,511.

When comparing Scarborough to the board’s proposed cohort group, which the majority fact-finding report agreed was a valid comparison, Scarborough is 4th out of 6. This group consists of Gorham, Brunswick, South Portland, Kennebunk, and Falmouth. So even with the largest raise our teachers have seen in a decade or more, Scarborough is still at the top of the bottom 50% for pay in our cohort group.

Maine projects a 35% loss of teachers to retirement over the next several years. Many young adults are not going into the profession due to negative rhetoric that creates a climate of disrespect about the profession. Many others are leaving early due to a high teacher burnout rate. Paying our teachers a competitive wage is vital.

Despite what some are insinuating in recent letters and online, the only delays in getting this contract in the hands of the public since the board ratification vote is the logistics of negotiations and ensuring the draft is proofread and accurate prior to the signing – not some nefarious plot to withhold information from the public.

Please vote yes on this school budget. The board of education has done what the town council asked of them. Their budget includes the cost of the teacher increases and the increase to the net operating budget is 1.6%, excluding the cost of COVID-19 expenses necessary for a safe opening. Voting no because a new contract was ratified to secure a competitive, albeit lower salary scale than three members of our cohort group, is not the answer. Our teachers are not greedy and our community needs to support them so they can focus on how they will safely reopen the schools to educate our children. That process is already at risk with this lean budget.

Amy Glidden
Former BOE Member and Chief Negotiator for the 2019-2022 Professional Staff Contract

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