Gorham voters spoke on June 13 when they rejected the $51.5 million school budget. The Town Council took unanimous action in response by mandating $2 million in reductions. Councilor Rob Lavoie said, “People have spoken, we need to listen.” Unfortunately, Superintendent Heather Perry wasn’t within earshot. Her reaction was to claim that the reductions were not supported by the community. She urged voters to go to the polls on July 25 to tell town officials that we actually support the budget that we rejected.

Perry lacks the leadership qualities necessary to manage an organization with a $50 million annual budget. She called this the “most difficult budget process thus far” in her 16-year career. That doesn’t explain why the $849,000 salary accounting error survived until after the June election. What other mistakes are lurking? Her shotgun approach to cutting $2 million is to ax 19 positions and some expenditures for after-school activities. That is sure to catch the attention of parents. Perhaps there is some creativity lying dormant that Perry and the school department can tap to identify and implement programming alternatives within budget constraints.

The Gorham School Committee faces a challenge to provide a quality education that the town’s property taxpayers can afford. Gorham homeowners made their concerns well-known last fall. New property assessments led to substantial increases in taxes for many homeowners, in my case 28%. Adding several hundred dollars more in school taxes is hard to swallow, especially when you are retired. Gorham is getting hard to afford and it is likely that some homeowners will be forced to move. The median value of a Gorham home is out of reach for families with average incomes, especially when interest rates rise. Gorham homeowners’ pockets are not a bottomless source of money.

Priscilla Wheatley