Comments for: Orono group tries to withdraw from school district, becoming third town to do so

Posted Feb. 06, 2012, at 6:35 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 07, 2012, at 7:22 a.m.

ORONO | Pockets of residents in each RSU 26 community want out of the school district, citing the loss of local control over education. A citizens committee in Orono followed groups in Veazie and Glenburn by submitting language for a petition that would bring a bid for withdrawal before …

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  • Anonymous

    Every darn RSU in the state should fold. Supposedly these were set up to cut admin. costs, but that hasn’t happened. In fact, in the district I find myself in, a memo was put out by the Supt. office proclaiming success in keeping each and every admin. job with longer titles and more pay. Great plan by Wacky Baldaccy and his stooge Gendron.

    • Anonymous

      A positive trend for sure.  The state usurped community control over the education of their local youth in 1976 and for the last two decades the states have relinquished more and more of state control to the federal government. The results are in… and both get a less than royal  D-  for their efforts. It’s time that local school boards do a push back and retake control and funding of K-12 back and do what they did very successfully for two centuries.

      • Anonymous

        The RSU’s are trying to do their job but the problem IS local control.  Nobody wants to cut non-essential programs or staff to save money.  Rather than blame the RSU, blame local opponents who have fought it every inch.

        • Anonymous

          Why save money? .. it’s the states money.. it’s the federal dollars.. it would be silly to cut free money. The cure.. local control – when it’s YOUR taxes.. your attention and  habits change and you insist on maximum value from those chosen to administrate.  When your vote for the local school board counts.. positive results follow.

          • Anonymous

            What you say “should” make sense but in practice that isn’t how it happens.  School boards, town councils, etc are dominated by groups that gave meaning to the term “small town politics.”  They like being the movers and the shakers and are ALWAYS behind ANYTHING for schools.  Anything less is the third rail of town politics.  It is ridiculous in the extreme.  An administration such as the RSU which is built on regional needs, not local desires, is the only workable solution.

          • Anonymous

            I think your assumption that local control/”your taxes”…will insist on maximum value is far from the truth in many cases.  There are many school boards out there that have no idea what is going on in schools (whether they are getting the most bang for the buck, etc”)

            I think local control is overrated in so many cases.  To the outside world, Orono and Old Town consolidating looks like it makes quite a bit of sense.  Of course, “local control” can keep that from happening even though in this day and age, it makes complete sense.

            As for school choice, it creates way more problems than it solves.  Many states have nothing like what we call school choice in Maine.  Does it make sense that an RSU must pay tuition OUT of its RSU for kids who have school choice?  TO me, no it does not.  Whether Orono HS had enough space for those kids or not is irrelevant, because the parents would still fight for school choice if OHS had room for 3000 kids.  

          • Anonymous

            Once again….the RSU does not pay for the “choice” communities tuition to other students.  This amount is a separate line that is billed back to the community of the sending student.  There is NO money loss there.  Many additional costs would be added to the RSU budget if all the students attended OHS.  It is a mute point!  Please be educated on this item of contention which comes up again and again as misinformation to the public.

          • Guest

             Tuition payments to receiving school districts is not a moot point.  While there is no per se dollar loss, the tuition follows the student, the monies leave the RSU to the receiving district and cannot be spent in the sending RSU.s’  While I will agree there are some additional cost to every student who comes into OHS, the tuition dollars associated with each student add tot hje overall RSU budget.

          • Anonymous

            The tuition dollars are never seen by the RSU…..if the choice is OHS by the students they do not receive any addition funding into the RSU by the sending schools.  You do have added numbers which may in turn help the State Subsidy dollars….but not nearly enough to make the difference it would need to make.  The cost per student for Orono remains to be the highest of the 3 towns even with  the includes the “cost” of tuition for the other two communities,  Glenburn having the lowest cost per student.  The only remedy to these schools in all of the areas is if there are kids from all 3 communities attending at all grade levels….K-5 in one town, MS in another and HS.   If shareholders had to think about all of their kids in one place then there would be equality in cuts and additions.   Do I ever think it would happen……..I doubt any of the communities would be happy with the combining of schools.   If budget woes continues through the next 3 to 5 years though it would seem likely that something like this would have to happen in order to continue to offer the best education.  Only so many cuts can be made before the schools become skeleton like in offerings and only so many shortfall dollars can be asked of the taxpayers.  This is a prime reason for these towns to withdraw now before it comes to this point.

      • Guest

        While there are many sides in this dilemma, one huge problem is that two centuries ago Orono graduates would be competing with kids from Old Town, Bangor, Belfast, etc for jobs.  They are now competing with kids from Stockholm, Berlin, and Istanbul .  We must think larger than our own back yard and what worked in the past, for it is not what will work in the future.

    • Anonymous

      Well, RSU 26 (Orono, etc) used to have 2 superintendents, and they now have one.

      I think towns are overreacting about pulling out of RSUs because they see budget cuts coming.  Well, those were coming anyway (due to the economy), and I think these towns are going to find that as much as they may not like being in an RSU, their budgets would look just as bad (or in most cases much worse) without them.

  • Anonymous

    It seems to me now that all three schools in the RSU want to withdraw we can work together and get this one everyone’s ballot by Nov. 6th

    Sadly I think our biggest obstacle will be  the State Dept of Education putting up roadblocks in attempt to make it financially for communities to withdraw.

  • sassyfrazz

    Whoever thought of these cockamamie laws for withdrawal is the most brilliant psychopath alive. This proves once again that the state of Maine is maniacally arrogant in its blatent disregard of the opinion of a large number of people.

    “Of the people, for the people” my rump.  Press forward I say.  Send a message.

  • Anonymous

    Ironic much? Wasn’t it the voters of Orono and Veazie that passed the last budget increases?(Glenburn majority over-ruled.) If you don’t have “local control” it’s because they DIDN’T VOTE.  Unintended consequences?  Still too many Superintendents/administrative staff per RSU. ‘Cause nobody wants to give up their control…

  • Anonymous

    So, Connerty-Martin’s only comments relate to how difficult it is for towns to control their school’s fiscal & academic performance? No talk of actually facilitating improvements to the situation. This is a difficult (by design) process, we’ll just sit back, watch, and see how long it takes for them to realize they can’t get out.
    They can withdraw, but the last one out is a rotten egg, and will have to remain in the RSU.
    Resistance is futile, just give up and swallow your medicine?

    How much will we be paying bureaucrats as the Department of Education to be obstructions rather than actually help? This will waste dollars on both ends of the rope & the kids are left hanging.

  • all the schools that combined are loosing money in these bad deals that 
    Wacky Baldaccy put together to try and save money all the schools should of stayed with what they had already… i grew up in vz went to the old John r graham school and than went to orono for high school…. nothing was wrong with that… classmates of mine from middle school went to jb  for harder school work, some went to bangor or moved out of town….  the state dept of education is so run by other dumb butts that only are the only ones that should get paid……….

  • Anonymous

    Welcome, Big Brother! 

    The state has foisted this idea of cost saving as an alternative to maintaining local control onto the towns, and now they say that even if they (the state) is wrong about the cost saving, the towns can’t get out of the RSU’s!  This IS Big Brother taking over!!

    The RSU’s are like Hotel California.  “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

    • Anonymous

      Once again you’re wrong HeaganMtn.  It is people like you who fight attempts at efficiency (and you have a history of that don’t you HeaganMtn?) that screw up what would otherwise be a great method of lowering educational expenses.

      • Anonymous

        No, watchdog, once again YOU’RE wrong.  I’m simply all for Local Control.  It’s people like you who want to blindly turn all local control over to Big Brother, no questions asked.  You believe that Big Brother won’t lead you astray.  I don’t believe that.  I believe that the bigger Big Brother gets the more Big Brother only looks out for itself. 

        The State of Maine sold the people of Maine a bill of goods by promising a “better” educational system and now the people who don’t like what the state sold them can’t get out of the RSU’s.  What people choose to spend on education (or anything else) is a decision that should be made by the people in the town and NOT the state.  It should be up to the towns to do their own consolidation if they see fit and to the extent they see fit.   

        It’s interesting that getting INTO the RSU’s was a decision made by the people in the towns but allowing them to get  OUT of an RSU is a decision that’s being made by the state.  Once the towns got into the RSU’s Big Brother took over.  We need to stand up for Local Control – making our own decisions as to what we spend and how much we spend.

        Here’s a bulletin for you:  The farther your get removed from your tax dollars the more gets wasted.  Small towns waste very little money.  Cities waste more.  Counties more yet.  The State wastes even more, and the Federal Government?? OMGG! 

         
         

      • sassyfrazz

        My property tax bill (post consolidation) shows that I will soon be required to pick up a second job to pay for the increase in my taxes.  They’ve gone up several HUNDRED dollars.

        So, no, there really is nothing ‘efficient’ about this process IM(taxpayer)O.

  • Anonymous

    I have to admit, I am one of the parents who didn’t attend any of the RSU meetings prior to its creation.  I haven’t been one of the parents to complain though, except at the thought of cutting programs rather than finding alternatives, which not many seem to be trying to do.  Is it true though, that Glenburn and Veazie students still have the option of what high school they can attend?  Which would mean the town/RSU is paying tuition to other school districts rather than keeping those funds in the RSU budget?  That seems to defeat the purpose of creating a school UNION and trying to save money.

    • sassyfrazz

      Orono can’t take all of the students in the RSU.  School choice was the sticking point for many parents in Glenburn.   They only agreed to do this if it remained.  Many of them invested a lot of money into homes simply because the town offered school choice. 

      Remember that the voters of the state passed a vote to force the state to fund schools as they said they would back in the late 80s (but never fully did).  Consolidation, IMHO, was the answer to the vote.  Rather than admit the state was flat busted broke, the state reworked the law into forcing towns to consolidate.

      At some point, people need to realize that ‘consolidation’ doesn’t save a lot of money in the long run. 

      Oh excuse me – I’m wrong.  It saves the STATE money on the books, but the townspeople (with the exception of those former owners of foreclosed and now empty houses in the swanky subdivisions) get to pick up the tab.

      There is no such thing as an “unfunded” mandate.  If there is any true savings to be had – it must start at the table of the ‘mandate.’  We must be careful what we wish for if we don’t want to pay for it IMO.

      Consolidation is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.  The school boards prior to this consolidation mess, worked very hard at saving money for the town.  They cut a LOT. 

      Still, it wasn’t enough for the state which was collapsing at a record pace.  People all over have lost their jobs, their homes, and small businesses (the so-called ‘backbone’ of the economy) were folding up like accordians.  Think of the 2nd mortgage companies in the Bangor area alone – gone. 

      The plain fact of the matter is that people need to stop mandating everything and then refusing to pay for it, and that includes parents who want the very best education for their little Johnnys and Johnettes.

      Times are tough and people are hurting.  There are much smarter ways to save money than to lump everyone together in a giant “McSchoolDistrict.” 

      Unfortunately, in our fear of what the state would do, we chose the path of least resistance.  Now we’re going to pay through the nose for it.

      We have no one to blame but ourselves.

      • Anonymous

        I guess I’m missing the point you are trying to make in regards to my question of school choice.  I just wonder how much might be saved by using the schools in the Union rather than paying tuition to other schools.  Or is that even a factor?  As I admitted before, I did not attend any of the RSU “creation” meetings. 

        I was not complaining about the consolidation, funding or unfunding, or whatever point you are trying to make about lost jobs, foreclosed homes.  I do believe in paying for the needs of the schools and/or students–and extra curricular activities (sports, music, etc.) are needed. 
         
        Times are tough for everyone–for my household as well.  I don’t agree with wanting something and not being willing to pay for it, but I do believe there are alternatives and cost saving strategies so that the students are not on the losing end.  It comes down to being able to work together and compromise. 

        • sassyfrazz

          Let me try again without quite as much ‘sass’  I’ll try to post the condensed version of what happened.

          Orono doesn’t have enough physical space to take all of the students in the RSU even if they wanted to.  Originally, the state wanted to pair Glenburn with Corinth (and their outlying towns) and Orono with Old Town and I believe Milford.

          Glenburn didn’t want to be paired with the Corinth area, and Orono didn’t want to be paired with Old Town, so they reached an agreement to consolidate with Veazie in order to make the ‘required’ number of students demanded by the state.  A big sticking point with people from Glenburn and Veazie was to maintain the choice of high school.  This too, caused some in Orono to be miffed that they would have no choice but their own high school while others could pick where they wanted to go.  Alas, we can’t make all the people happy all of the time.

          It was a long process in which the state kept changing the rules of play repeatedly, and the poor people tasked with trying to keep abreast of the changes tore their hair out trying to find the best possible scenario for the towns.  They really did.

          Still, there were those who had tried to convince people that they should stand up against the state and just pay the fine (which it turns out was much less than now – to the tune of $125,000, but don’t quote me verbatim). 

          In the end, the fear of what the state was going to do next won out, and those who were on the board had the unenviable task of picking the lesser of the evils. 

          Upon consolidating, salaries were raised to the highest paid level (which at the time was Veazie). It costs a lot of money to merge everything from teacher salaries to basic building maintenance.  It was a complicated situation and I remain convinced most people don’t even begin to realize just how complicated it was.  

          Ultimately, the only entity who have realized any ‘savings’ is the State of Maine which forced this consolidation on the towns because IMHO, it could no longer play ‘shuffle the accounts’ as the economy tanked and funds dried up. 

          So ultimately, while I would love to see people be able to work together and compromise, the loss of local control (and human territorial nature in general) seems to not be working toward that end. 

          I predict that due to the twisted way this process was designed into not leaving the people with any power to vote for what they want locally, it will remain in place.  It was purposely constructed to do so, and I’m not sure which scenario angers me more: The fact that the state has thumbed its nose at us and said “Tough – you’ll do this or else” or the fact that we allowed them to do so in the first place.

          • Guest

             Nice explanation.  My understanding is that the State had already “booked” the anticipated savings which made matters potentially even worse.  I do not if ws just the fear of the State winning out.  There is a rational explanation  for consolidation and partnering with others as funds dry up. 

          • sassyfrazz

            I’m all for savings as long as they’re real savings and not imaginary (or sleight of hand) savings.There are a number of cost-savings measures that could have been implemented (such as pooling resources for supplies for example) in place of consolidation.   None of the towns in the state were allowed to explore those. 

            I agree that the state had already “booked’ the anticipated savings. This should not surprise anyone. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems this state loves to project revenue that never seems to materialize.

            I think it was more the fear of who the state would force them to partner with for a few reasons.  One very legitimate reason was the sheer logistics of the pairing with Corinth for townspeople who work in the Bangor area.   It would be pretty difficult and costly to travel for everyday after school activities.

            Another reason was ‘educational philosophy.’

  • Guest

    Baldacci and every legislator who voted for the school consolidation law should be rounded up, given quick, fair trials, and thrown in the Warren SuperMax. 

  • Anonymous

    baldacci at his finest. Typical democrat, biggergoverment  more control. Give us your money we will take care of you. Tax and spend.

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