Comments for: School consolidation: money saver or total failure?

Posted Feb. 20, 2012, at 9:47 a.m.
Last modified Feb. 20, 2012, at 8:54 p.m.

It has been three years since many of Maine’s school districts consolidated to try to save money on administrative costs. As more and more communities consider withdrawing from newly consolidated school districts, a major question has emerged: Did it work? Some superintendents think consolidation is a godsend. Others say it …

CORRECTION:

A previous version of this story said a group in Veazie recently had to start the withdrawal process over because it didn’t follow the department’s wording on its petition. The group was in Glenburn.

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  • hey-I’m-your-man

    Consolidation – everyone is jumping on this bandwagon to “save money” well it saves a bit in some areas but will cost more in others. All consolidations does is just save money for today – cost more money tommorrow.

    • Anonymous

      I think you are mistaken.  I think towns could have saved a bundle but the “local control” people have fought school consolidation tooth and nail.  They have achieved a certain amount of success as is evident by this story.  Consequently any savings are minor and the program is doomed.  Too bad, it was a great idea.

      • Anonymous

        I keep hearing Local control? What are they not able to control anymore? 

        • Anonymous

          What are we not able to control?   How about how the big town decides the union will operate since they have the majority on the board?  Since our school wasn’t good enough to send some of their kids to, it ended up getting closed after the threat of higher taxes to keep it open with the barest of services?  If the RSU decides it needs to expand, I can just about guarantee I will end up paying for a building in their town and not the use of ours.  Can’t control that.

          • Anonymous

            Are your kids going to that school now? Why pay for two buildings and neither one is close to capacity? What is the problem with combining? Thank you for your insight, This is an issue I do not know much about. 

        • Anonymous

          In my little city, we previously had a superintendant of schools who did what he was told to do by the local school board.  Now that same man has been hired to be superintendant of the RSU we belong to.  Our school board still tells him what to do, but now he ignores them.  He literally tells them that he will not carry out the policies set forth by the local school board unless the entire RSU board tells him to.  We have lost local control.

          • Odd, isn’t it, how people can ignore you when you are no longer able to influence their paycheck or tenure.

            Control, at the federal and the state levels, has very little to do with education and everything to do with politics.

            The entire ‘budget-as-theology’ mandate usurps the rights of two or more towns deciding, on their own, that consolidation may be good, but only if they get to hammer out the terms.  Otherwise, the only winners are the unions who get to negotiate contracts with fewer and fewer politicians (who, by the way, they have bought and paid for) and appointed bureaucrats.

          • Anonymous

            See any parallels with OBAMACARE?

            I thought so…

          • Anonymous

            Good grief!  Wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity.  Hang your head in shame!

          • Anonymous

            Don’t know where you live but in Washington County, I don’t think we can afford 15 or so school superintendents, with their secrateries and assitants. How many superintendents does Bangor have? Roughly the same population and probably Bangor has more students than all of Washington Co. combined. The money spent on these superintendents and their staff could still be cut down to maybe 2 for the whole county.

          • waynorth1

            Same thing goes on in northern Maine.

      • Anonymous

        The reason the “local control” people fought tooth and nail is because it is not the state’s responsibility to educate children. It is the school committees in the individual towns responsibility. They are elected to set policies and they are to direct the management ie superintendents and principals. We have bureaucrats, ie supts et al telling the school committees what shall happen in their schools. Wrong.

        • Anonymous

          Actually, you may want to brush up on your Maine Constitution.  Education is enshrined as a State responsibility. 

          • Anonymous

            “Section 1. Legislature shall require towns to support public schools; duty of Legislature. A
            general diffusion of the advantages of education being essential to the
            preservation of the rights and liberties of the people; to promote this
            important object, the Legislature are authorized, and it shall be their
            duty to require, the several towns to make suitable provision, at their
            own expense, for the support and maintenance of public schools; and it
            shall further be their duty to encourage and suitably endow, from time
            to time, as the circumstances of the people may authorize, all
            academies, colleges and seminaries of learning within the State;
            provided, that no donation, grant or endowment shall at any time be made
            by the Legislature to any literary institution now established, or
            which may hereafter be established, unless, at the time of making such
            endowment, the Legislature of the State shall have the right to grant
            any further powers to alter, limit or restrain any of the powers vested
            in any such literary institution, as shall be judged necessary to
            promote the best interests thereof. ”

            I see here that the legislature (elected) shall require the TOWNS to support public schools. Where does it say the state shall operate them and issue directives other than that? Is there another section I missed?

          • It may be YOU who wants to brush up on your Maine Constitution.

            As noted by ‘letsbehonestforonce’, the responsibility for education is NOT “enshrined” at the State level.

            The MEA and education establishment relies upon misinformation like you give.  They thank you for helping to maintain their stranglehold on our children’s’ futures.

          • Anonymous

            I know that you’d like all educational control to be left up to municipalities….I’m merely pointing out that that is not the way Maine as a State was formed and not the practice since its founding in 1820.  If you want all control to be up to municipalities, then start a movement to amend the Maine Constitution.

          • Anonymous

            Final (and ultimate) authority for education lies with the State…not municipalities.  

          • Anonymous

            Says who? Did you just make that up?

          • Anonymous

            Read it and weep, folks:

            Title 20-A: EDUCATION
            Part 1: GENERAL PROVISIONS
            Chapter 1: GENERAL PROVISIONS

            1. State responsibility for public education. 
            In accordance with the Constitution of Maine, Article VIII, the
            Legislature shall enact the laws that are necessary to assure that all school administrative units make suitable provisions for the support and maintenance of the public schools. It is the intent of the Legislature that every person within the age limitations prescribed by state statutes shall be provided an opportunity to receive the benefits of a free public
            education.
            [1981, c. 693, §§5, 8 (NEW).]

            2. Local control of public education. 
            It is the intent of the Legislature that the control and management of
            the public schools shall be vested in the legislative and governing bodies of local school administrative units, as long as those units are in compliance with appropriate state statutes.
            [1981, c. 693, §§5, 8 (NEW).]

          • How, then, do you explain the existence and role of the US Department of Education with its 4,000+ employees, $70 BILLION budget and authority to make states jump through hoops (or seek waivers)?

          • Anonymous

            The federal goverment’s role is known and understood.  However, we are not debated that here; only the relationship between the State and its municipal sub-units.

    • poormaniac

      Please explain your position .

  • Anonymous

    The whole is not always a predictor of the validity from its parts. As a teacher in Union #96 which morphed into a wheel spoke of RSU#24 I observed first hand the loss of cultural identity, the omnipotence of a greater power thrust upon students, faculty, and a community, and the
    unfortunate loss of local pride. There are other observable ways to consolidate monies, but no amount of fiscal  re-scaling can substitute for the lost variables and specifics that no longer permeate  schools which reflect the communities of their origins. Ken

    • Anonymous

      I can understand pride of place. It’s a shame that in some areas of the state that the number of children graduating from their schools have to leave to make a living.

    • Anonymous

      OK, here we go.

      First, cultural identity does not prepare anyone for employment.
      Second, local pride does not prepare anyone for employment.
      Third, as regards omnipotence, evidence proves you are wrong on this one.  If the RSU’s had been encouraged rather than having the “local control” freaks fighting it every inch of the way this would have been seen as a plus rather than a minus.  Both from an economic and a scholastic view.
      Forth, “lost variables and specifics that no longer permeate schools….reflect the communities of their origins.”  Say, with all due respect Ken, what do you teach?  I know what you don’t teach.  Look, the cultural difference between a town and the towns surrounding that town are not quantifiable until you get into an urban area such as Portland.  This whole concept of one town being culturally different from it’s neighbor is utterly ridiculous!  And if there is a cultural difference so what.  Believe it or not Ken, some towns actually embrace cultural diversity.

      None of your complaints have absolutely anything to do with the primary raison d’être of education.  The idea sir is to prepare our children to be successful as an adult.  The pride in a local school that you can walk to or the local football team will not prepare a child to be an adult.  Those things are nice to have but very distant from being essential.  I keep hearing this stupid argument about pride in ones school etc and it is beyond belief that people buy into it.  Between Hampden, Thorndike, Brewer, and Ellsworth the state and its people are spending almost $200,000,000 in new schools!  Meanwhile the kids lack computers and the teachers are buying freaking paper to write on out of their own pockets.  Crazy in the extreme.

      • Anonymous

        To be a successful adult means different things to different people.  Your beginning statements indicate to me that it’s perfectly fine to prepare someone for employment. If that is true than teaching someone to slide a window, smile, and hand out change and bags of “food”  is education.  I beg to differ with that view. All public school students should take part in an annual science fair. Let’s argue that statement for a bit, shall we? Yes I said ALL.

        • Anonymous

          You’ve made an incorrect assumption.  nuff said.

        • Anonymous

           Muddy the water a bit more with off the subject comments please, I beg you.

          • Anonymous

            Sorry, I thought the intelligence level of the people responding here would be sufficient to be able to make the connections. I was referring to watchdogME’s post above mine describing education as a preparation for employment. I was trying to make the point that all students should participate in a science fair. Probably was a bit of a jump, but my point was to show that students should be educated, all students should have basics, and that should have nothing to do with preparation for employment.

      • Anonymous

         Developing a sense of pride does not prepare one for future employment? You lost me after that.

        • Anonymous

          You quoted me incorrectly.  I said, “local pride does not prepare anyone for employment.”  I also said,  “The pride in a local school that you can walk to or the local football team will not prepare a child to be an adult.”  So to clarify, I am saying that having pride in your school or the local sports activities  will not do much, if anything,  to prepare you to earn a living and handle your responsibilities as an adult.   I am NOT saying that one shouldn’t have pride in oneself.  I think you knew that though didn’t you?  Want to help those kids prepare for their future as adults?  Nix the overpriced schools with university class athletic fields, 3 story glass facades, and performing arts centers for 12 year olds.  Then buy them computers, something they will actually use as adults working for a living, provide the teachers with the materials they need to do their job, and then pay the teachers really well.  Why pay them well?  Because the future of your children, our culture, and our country, depend upon these teachers much more than the aforementioned athletic fields and fancy schools that mommy and daddy are proud to see their kids attending.  I suppose there is one thing about these schools.  When your children grow up and are unemployed they can hang around the baseball diamond and play softball during the week after school hours are over.  Yup they, and you too, can be proud of their school then.

          • Anonymous

             Blah blah blah…….That does not address the question of the success or failure of consolidation, just throws a little more dirt into the water. Great job!

          • Anonymous

             Okay, I can see how pride in the local football team may not contribute to a good work ethic, and I’m with you on spending more on resources and structure rather than facade. But, remember that when trying to change all that you’ll be dealing with a great deal of competing interests, and each party will probably consider different aspects of the system as being a source of pride.  But, school pride is, unfortunately, one of the last remaining characteristics of a strong community that exists today. And, as such, should be encouraged rather than scoffed at.

          • Anonymous

            I am sincerely not scoffing.  I am setting forth what I believe to be the priorities of an education, preparation of a child to be a successful adult.  There is nothing wrong with pride in ones school, or a great athletic program, or a great arts program either.  I am just saying that with limited resources these things are “nice to have” not “need to have”.  Of course I am also saying that those limited resources would have gone a lot further if everyone had embraced school consolidation with an open heart and at least given it a 10 year period to prove itself. 

          • Anonymous

            You are absolutely corret. One of the 4 HS’s I attended in Pa. was an archeticturally beauty for its day. It had the largest HS campus in the nation and through the 50’s & 60’s the football team only lost a hanful of games. I can remember reading in the early 70’s with great pride, that they had their functional illitercy rate down below 15%.

            The first HS I attended, a parochial school, was built like a T, as where just about all of the parochial HS’s in the Philadelphia area. Four stories high, 1st floor 9th, 2nd floor 10th grade, etc. It had an elevator for anyone who couldn’t climb stairs. They don’t have any students who can’t read or are classified as functionaly illiterate. In any of the parochial HS’s in that area. The campus would fit neatly within the confines of the public schools football complex.

      • Anonymous

        Dear Watchdog,
           Thanks for your comments and input. There is a very causal correlation  between the self worth/pride in students and their ability to succeed. I think you accurately reflect upon the poor economic choices which inversely impact upon students’ success. I believe that primary purpose in today’s high school environment is not to fuction as institutions of higher education as in previous generations, but to prepare for the specialized training which will occur ex post facto. I have personally observed the deterioration of students’ ability to access relevent services in high school because of the ethnocentristic methodologies and planning pursued by few individuals who blithely ignore the lessons of the past. In answer to your query, I taught a myriad of subjects at the high school level for 40 years as a Special Education teacher. I served as a Special Education teacher and Department Head at Sumner High School from 1999 through 2011. Thanks again for your response. I hope that you now have a beter understanding of my position. Ken 

        • Anonymous

          Hi,
          In my opinion self worth and pride are good, no essential, tools for anyone trying to succeed.  However I do not equate self worth/individual pride with pride in ones school.  Sorry but to me these are two entirely different things, one with merit the other without.  Perhaps I didn’t word my tirade well enough to make this distinction as you are not the only one interpreting my remarks this way.

      • Anonymous

        As a former member of the SAD#30 Board of Directors and a very outspoken critic of excessive expenditures in our “controllable”  spending, I couldn’t say enough if I had a book’s worth of space to express my disappointment with the consolidation scheme concocted in Augusta and then rammed down our local throats!

          I watched our spending as a hawk watches a field mouse. I asked for and received detailed accounts of every single dime expended by our school district during my tenure on the budget committee. Our Board of Directors worked tirelessly to fund our programs with the available funds as they also kept an eye on future needs and expectation of needs.

         In contract negotiations with the teachers bargaining team, we were able to accomplish a complete and satisfactory agreement between parties in less than 6 hours. Everyone left the table satisfied that they had met their obligations to their interested parties and there were no high priced lawyers involved to drag out the process and cost additional revenues that frankly, are darned hard to come by in small districts such as this one.

         There was a mutual desire by all the board members to maximize our direct services into the education of our children. My/our biggest frustration was the endless stream of state and federal mandates, broken promises of funding by the state and a declining enrollment.
          We were however able to make a few decisions as to our costs at a local level. We were not  hamstrung into excessive spending by those with a political ax to grind or a career ladder they were climbing. While we often disagreed methods of achieving those ends, there was never a feeling that we were just spinning our wheels in wasted effort.  We knew to a man/woman, that every single one of us had to answer to out own neighbors what we were doing. We did have local control. That has vanished as the smaller districts were swallowed up by their larger neighbors and stripped of any real local control.

         My property taxes have increased as the services desperately needed by our children declined and a feeling of total helplessness to control spending at a local level now prevails.
         I have seen Zero benefit from this warped scheme and expect to see none at any point in my lifetime.

        • Anonymous

          I understand your frustration firecap66.  I respond to this situation further along in the discussion.  Basically, it is my opinion that the ‘local control’ people have sabotaged consolidation. No, I am not accusing you of this. It sounds as though you and many of your colleagues did all that you could to embrace consolidation and were stymied by what ultimately can be traced back to the people fighting against consolidation. The constantly changing rules of consolidation were one result of their actions. I would suggest the ever changing interpretation of consolidation was a deliberate act driven by local control groups who intended to mess up consolidation for all who were trying to comply. Their long term goal was the situation we have now. No savings, get rid of consolidation. Was it a deliberate conspiracy by the local control groups. I believe it was.

  • Anonymous

    Towns and municipalities that would like to consolidate should do so on a voluntary basis. State-forced consolidation overlooks the will of the populace while trying to ramrod cookie-cutter plans down the throats of local governments.

    • Anonymous

      I agree, towns and municipalities should decide what is in their best interest.  Mandatory consolidation was not the way that this should have gone.  The state should provide guidance and direction towards the optimum education choices for towns, we shouldn’t get rid of it,  but it shouldn’t be mandatory as well. Having said that, they will need to amend to school funding formulas equitably, and not target consolidation systems. They will need to give a municipality their quota, and let the damn town decide how to spend it, not the state.

      Grass roots works, if you give it a chance.

  • Guest

    Baldacci lied and local control died.

    • poormaniac

      As with all good ideas , once they hit the legislature they become nightmares.  Ask the current governor ! The legislative process adds more to the problem than to the solution.  It seems everyone has to get in on the act and put in their 2 cents worth.  A big price for the citizens of Maine to pay for each legislators political noteriety ! The political process as we know it is badly in need of repair and is unlikely to be fixed by those on the inside !  A drunk once said ” we’ve lost the ability to keep it simple “.

      • Anonymous

        Thats why the multi-party government doesnt work, too many ideas can over kill the process to get things done ! Our government is broke and it hasnt worked for a long time !

        • Anonymous

          So you are for a one party system ? 
          Which ? 

          • Anonymous

            Maybe one without the media distorting and covering up what is really happening.I believe the idea of the media staying out of the process until it is a process is a good idea.If i did have some ideas for the governor would i feel comfortable with a back and forth on them no .With the media out there looking for every chance to crucify and spin any idea in its infancy it must be hard to get any help fixing problems.Good things can come from bad ideas if there is a chance to toss them around.With an attack media i would not just throw out ideas to be hashed out.

          • Anonymous

            Oh, it is freedom of the press that you don’t like.

            “…. the media staying out of the process ” …

            That is not an option. 
            Especially in a one party systems where the press is an arm of the Party and/or the Ministry of Information and Re-education.
            Like Fox and nothing else but Fox.

    • Guest

      You can’t blame this on Baldacci. The legislature changed his plan so much that we don’t know if would have worked. It might have worked fine without the politics.

      • Guest

        Was his veto pen loaded with disappearing ink?

      • Anonymous

        It wouldn’t have been fine, as it was pure and simple blackmail!

    •  I’m not sure if he lied or not but Baldacci clearly tried to impose a one-size-fits-all solution to a diverse set of local education agencies. He tried to dictate a solution rather than to propose one and then spend the time needed to work with the stakeholders on coming up with solutions that worked for at least most LEA’s.

      Unfortunately for Maine, LePage learned nothing from Baldacci’s heavy-handed approach at trying to dictate solutions. That approach ignores the legitimate role of the Legislature and promotes a partisan, confrontational atmosphere.

      • Guest

        HE LIED. That’s why school consolidation was tacked on to the budget bill and rammed thru in the middle of the night with little, if any, lip service to things like public hearings. The bald one and his deputy Fife needed a quick $125-million in budget hocus pocus to create the illusion of fiscal balance.

        Oh, and stop with the whining about the ‘confrontational atmosphere’. You sound like those gutless wonders Langley and Katz with their knife in the back letter to the governor. Paul LePage was right on the mark when he called the Maine Legislature the “biggest adult daycare center” in the country. The notion that the Legislature can serve any kind of “legitimate role” when it is dominated by illegitimate spawn (euphemism for you-know-what) is ridiculous beyond measure.

        •  So what other parts of the Maine Constitution would you suggest we do away with?

          • Guest

            We need not do away with them, but it is important to recognize that, like e-coli, legislators are rather disgusting, but have their proper place deep down within the bowels of the system. Let them (either e-coli or legislators) escape the confines of their proper place and they will poison the body politic.

          •  That’s a unique – and rather entertaining – view of Maine government.

      • Anonymous

        If you count the work history of the Maine Legislature, you’ll find more teachers, or former teachers, than any other single background.

        Care to connect any dots with this issues then?

        •  Not really – but I’m anxious to hear your explanation of what it means.

  • You get w hat you pay for!

    Sometimes!

  • Anonymous

    I voted NO because I don’t believe they went far enough. There are still entirely too many people at the top of administration.

    In counties like Washington County where the population of young couples with children is in a steady decline, the inevitability of closing schools and consolidating is only a question of time.

    • Anonymous

      I worked at a school for nine years, during that time (even through this whole process), I did not see a whole lot taken or cut from the top down….only from down and just a wee bit up, it was disgusting to watch.  I could have personally gone around with a clip board and cut many things that actually made sense and would have saved tons of money.  But the only jobs being saved, were the jobs at the top of the food chain, lots of high paying administrative jobs, you know, ones who carried titles that were so vague or creative that no one really knew what they did, but they sounded important.  Very clever sounding, completely unneeded, made up, craziness if you ask me.  I could have told anyone that wanted to listen what each of those people were responsible for day to day……..jobs that the teachers and or principals could have been doing, hell, they could have even have supervised a low paid ed-tech to do most of it!  There is so much waste in a public school, but you wont find it if you are looking IN THE SCHOOL OR IN THE CLASSROOMS!!!

  • poormaniac

    This comment addressed to watchdogME below : Good point about the local control people. However well intended people just can’t seem to get along long enough to really tackle the important problems. I think fear has a lot to do with it !

  • Anonymous

    I noticed that the “savings” just went to expanded programs, so in reality there were no savings for the taxpayer.  It was a good idea, that didn’t pan out.  There should be one purchasing office per county, and maybe even one superintendent per county (which won’t happen).  If you compare Maine to Nebraska (another rural state) you’ll see where my ideas came from. I voted no.

    • Anonymous

      The fact you think this was a good idea that didn’t pan out doesn’t recognize that the plan had nothing to do with saving money and everything to do with power consolidation and the authority of assets, staff and students being taken away from elected town governance and placed into the hands of unelected hired management.

      • Anonymous

        There are no elected superintendents that I know of; and in most cases, each town school board still is in place.  My points were about saving money not local control (which there isn’t much of in any system).

        • Anonymous

          That’s my point, superintendents are not elected and without an elected and responsible local school committee or board, they are free to create their kingdoms. And don’t doubt that’s what most do. I have seen it firsthand, the God Almighty complex I call it.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s put it this way. I was downsized out of my job as a school librarian in 2005. Consolidation followed that. The students did not have a librarian after that and now the school is closed and the kids farmed out to a neighboring town. All because administrators have hidden agendas that the public is only now beginning to see. If I were responsible for the education of children in my town and this travesty was the result of my decision making, I’d be thoroughly ashamed of myself. Do you see anyone who is ashamed?

  • Anonymous

    If the State had kept out of education from the beginning, we wouldn’t have the troubles we do.The cities and towns would never let the bureaucracy creep in the way the government promotes, and run it as a business. The legislature can screw up a cup of coffee.

    • Anonymous

      I started school in 1946 and the State had some involvment then, but not as much.

      • Anonymous

        My dad was a school teacher when the state took schools over and he said at the time it was the worst thing to happen to schools.
        Politics and common sense about schools do not mix. Every kid cannot qualify for every job but the government seems to think so. Our legislators mean well, I wish they would not take themselves so seriously, run the roads, bridges, etc. and stay out of our lives.

        • waynorth1

          I totally agree about the politics and common sense don’t mix.  There are “users” around every corner.

  • “the only ones that havent saved are the ones that havent consolidated” do a little investigation into MSAD 24 and see how they would feel about that statement. 

  • Anonymous

    Don’t fall for the RSU saves money bs from Bill Webster…All that happened was that the taxpayers in Ellsworth see there tax dollars spent outside of Ellsworth keeping 50 kid schools afloat. As far as his claim that kids in other schools have opportunities that they did not have before, there in NO video conferencing allowing kids from Gouldsboro or Franklin or ANYWHERE ELSE to take classes at Ellsworth. Ellsworth taxpayers should talk to their city leaders and ask hard questions about the impact of the RSU on Ellsworth. 

    • Anonymous

      Is Bill related to Charlie?

    • Guest

      The best thing for Ellsworth was that the taxpayers (those paying attention) found out how much the superintendents and school board had STOLEN from them — over $ 1-million in “unexpended fund balances” (a euphemism for SLUSH FUND). 

  • Anonymous

    As with any other Lib plan when the money dries up the chickens come home to roost

  • Anonymous

    Education MUST be taken away from the government’s control.

     The union is in control of the public system at this point and time, and the government buraucracy is at the whim of the union through their member’s non-voluntary support of the democrat party.

     Vouchers will bring this inequity back in the form of competition amongst the public, government funded school systems, and the private school systems.

     The system as we know it is broken, graduating idiots on the low end of the scale, while the students on the brighter side tend to be dumbed down.

    Baldacci’s consolidation plans were just more pandering to the union vote buyers in order to allow the system to take more control away from the local populace.

    • Anonymous

      Without government there wouldn’t be a public education system!  Rather, the free market GOP jerks would have the kids toiling in the fields and minimum wage sweat shops of America.  In fact, your man Lepage suggested that very thing.

      • Anonymous

         You left out a key word in your post.

         Without “LOCAL” government………………………………….

         As for the rest of your babble, you must have been graduated with the rest at the low end……

        • Anonymous

          What a lowbrow, and I hate to say it, ignorant, excuse for a response.  Your claim that local forces were the driving impetus behind government mandated public education is mistaken (look it up Madam Smart Pants).  Even better, you try to taunt me with some ridiculous attack on my education.  Good grief madam, you’ll have to do better than that to get a rise out of me.  I’ll bet you blame your spouse for not being able to rise to the occasion too don’t you.  I knew it.

          • Anonymous

            Mission accomplished!!!

  • Guest

    Of course  Heather Steeves and her editors at the BDN would NEVER THINK of grabbing the budget docs and verifying the claims of ‘saved money’.  That’s just too much like real journalism.  The BDN would much rather just regurgitate whatever line of manure the political hacks feed them.

    • Anonymous

      Again, you will find precious little in savings because the local control people have sabotaged the consolidation effort to the point of being useless.  Sadly consolidation was never given a fair shake or an opportunity to flourish.  Constant court challenges, constant bickering and fighting, constant partisan politics by opportunist’s with political ambitions, constant finagling of the rules, constant misrepresentation of the economics, and in the end it has become just what the control freaks wanted, a lost cause.  Too bad.

      • Guest

        Hogwash !! This was the same song and dance the Augusta geniuses peddled to us in the late 1960’s with the creation of the MSAD’s. Every dime, and more, of alleged ‘savings’ was spent on more layers of administration and non-teaching payroll (e.g. ‘business managers’, athletic directors, special ed directors, ‘curriculum coordinators’) and increased transportation.

        This was a total fraud, pure and simple. Baldacci and Gendron wanted to cut state education subsidies, but couldn’t summon the testicular fortitude to be up front about it. Hence, they concocted this BIG LIE and booked $125-million in bogus budget ‘savings’.

        And then Baldacci and Gendron both left town before this frozen pile of manure thawed and started to stink up the room.

        • Anonymous

          Not much of a beer drinker. When I used to drink though, Sam Jackson was way better. It got me drunk!. Now to the topic at hand. The federal government needs to stay the heck out of our classrooms. It seems to me that people were well educated and did just fine without their meddling.

  • orono and veazie were doing just fine alone before all this crap came about….  the smaller schools with 200 or less students should have been the only schools forced to combine to make one bigger school district…

  • Anonymous

    A total Fallure.   Our taxes went up by 1 million and kids were bused to the new school 6 miles away.

  • Anonymous

    This mentality is quite fascinating. People seem eager to
    cut anything and everything so long as it is not welfare. People will march to
    the capital and protest in the streets if so much as a word is mentioned about
    reducing welfare, yet even a whisper cannot be heard when cuts are actually
    made to our education system. A system in which provides many people with jobs,
    and provides children and young adults with an increased ability to strive in
    society. As long as we have our priorities straight.

  • Anonymous

    the school unions are a very strong force inside of the lobbies that push for or against laws that are for or against the teachers.our school district has a top heavy administration and teachers with tenure that have teachers aides in the class room and special ed teachers with their teacher aids so you never know who is teaching and who is milking the system.in the 60s and 70s the teacher had 35 students per class  with no help,the total tax bill for your local school district would be scary if you figured it out most are in the 40 to 60 percent range of your total tax bill but nothing is said about that short fall.but we can cut our aging population,pay our part time lawmakers all their perks,and never quibble over a thing.The working majority just keep on working and paying taxes and wondering when it even out.      

    • Anonymous

      Don’t know who’s feeding you your information but as a middle school teacher, I have no aides.  I have 5 classes of over 20 kids in them, about 15% are special ed. students.  Each sped department decides where the aides will go; and NEVER do the aides in the regular ed classroom TEACH the class.  If that’s going on, it is wrong.  They are not paid to teach, assess, plan, observe, direct, manage, counsel, negotiate, coerce, etc. the students.  The reason classes were so large in the past is because our society was very very different.  Kids were mostly subservient, polite, had manners, and generally were ‘kids’ – meaning they had no, or very little rights.  Today they run the show!  School admin’s are petrified to ‘stand up’ against them for fear of a lawsuit; I’ve seen it personally in my building.  It takes an act of Congress to kick a kid out for being disruptive, dangerous, threatening, physically or verbally abusive, not to mention being a major pain the butt for teachers and students alike.  The tail is wagging the dog these days.

      • Anonymous

        nonalee, I know what you’re talking about, having worked in schools over a long enough period of time to notice the changes coming in. Brats are now labelled as “oppositional defiant.” According to a 10 person IEP meeting, those unfortunate children so afflicted are in need of many extra staff members and meds  just to get through their non-productive brat day. Meanwhile the school gets extra funds for providing the specialized services, therefore they have no reason to actually deal with and solve the child’s issues. The public has no idea what goes on in schools, other than what they are told by those for whom the truth is a threat.

  • Anonymous

    To save money on administrative costs the districts have to have on supt for each county.  That is where the savings come from.  When you have local school committees electing a Supt for each school district, you wind up paying them way too much money and not enough left over for educating the students in those districts.

    • Anonymous

      “you wind up paying them way too much money and not enough left over for educating the students in those districts.”  You got that right!  Too many ‘administrators’, not enough in the trenches.  School personnel should mostly be paid to work WITH  students.  These days we have “literacy coaches” (who supposedly ‘teach the teachers’ new strategies to help kids learn to read and write better; all this when over half the teachers in my building have their master’s plus 20+ yrs. of teaching experience) and a lot of other ‘fluff’ jobs….paying these so-called ‘specialists’ to NOT WORK WITH KIDS.  In my building we have a librarian who literally does nothing; she’s shared with the elem. school and does have an assistant who ‘holds down the fort’ and does all cataloging, etc.  She ‘teaches’ a library class and the kids all say  it’s a joke.  Most of the time it’s a study hall.  We also have a social worker and for the life of me I’d like to know what she does all day long…but I’m not sure what ‘social’ entity is paying her.  It’s VERY frustrating!

  • Anonymous

    Public schools are just daycares. Educating these little minds is so far from what the teachers think they are there for. It is now about fitting into the community with ten million behaivor issues (from what I hear means more funds), feeding them breakfast is of utmost importance because parents don’t know enough to feed their children BEFORE they send them to daycare….I mean school…..The three R’s are gone. Now it is a matter of medicating and raising them to all conform….to what I have yet to figure out. We need teachers that want to teach, principals that aren’t too lazy to take care of the problem children and parents that parent. I know, asking way too much.

    • Anonymous

      …..oh, you mean you want a perfect world:)  Me too.

  • Anonymous

    What about all the gas (diesel) used to transport these students to RSU’s?   At today’s prices it doesn’t seem fiscally responsible.

  • Anonymous

    If you truly want to keep costs down keep it local.

  • Anonymous

    Probably the first plan, based on vo-tech districts was most promising. The legislature diluted the basic idea and added to local distrust.
     We should be trying to make K- 12 education effective and affordable. Too many central office administrators are only part of the problem, too many  small schools are a much larger part.
     There is some size, below 400 -500 , that is just too small to offer a program that meets the needs of  today’s pupils. These needs include teachers well qualified in the subjects they teach,approriate levels of instruction,  guidance services, AP classes,and  special education services to name some. It requires money to provide these,  the smaller  the school the  more difficult to accomplish. Economies of scale come with numbers of pupils. There should be numbers to work with,at least so many pupils per superintendent – maybe at least 2,500 – so many K-8 pupils and 9-12 pupils per building. There should  be provisions for exceptional circumstances at the school level. Island schools and the very rural 9-12  schools,maybe 20-25 miles from the nearest larger school, should recieve additional subsidy to meet their needs.
     We often compare our economy  to NH. They seem to operate pretty much on a larger scale except for a few isolated schools in remote regions.
    It is traumatic to give up the old town school with all of its traditions, but in the interest of the taxpayers and to meet the needs of the pupils we need to change. Over time many towns  have consolidated, several recently. Many more need to take action soon in the face of  declining enrollments and increasing demands on student outcomes.
    We have a number of things to correct. Schools that do not offer quality need to model those that are exceptional. We need more days in school, at least 200. We need all administrators to effectively evaluate those they hire to teach and continue the evaluations semi-anually to ensure that they are maintaining their skill, many schools do this now.
    Our future as a state depends on the graduates of our schools to be well educated, to have a strong work ethic, and hopefully to contribute to our states well being as adults.

  • Anonymous

    This “consolidation” thing sounds a lot like “The Hotel California.”
    Seriously there is big and sometimes there is too big.  Some school districts are likely fine the way they are & why muck them up.  On the other hand in many cases consolidation may make sense.  Don’t throw out the bath water until you’ve secured the baby!

  • Anonymous

    I dont know about larger districts but in Hancock County the smaller schools lost the most funding while the larger schools funding increased. Forced consolidation and little thought put into the impact on the smaller towns within the new formed districts. 

  • Anonymous

    I would rather have seen consolidation tried with formation of road districts.  It is a much less emotional issue than consolidating schools.  Lessons learned from using local roads as the driver for consolidation could then be applied to the more difficult problems like education or emergency services.

    It is going to be really tough to truly reform state government until local government reforms.  “Local control” generates a lot of emotion.  At some point, we are going to have to recognize that for a resident in Freedom, Unity is “local”. Likewise, St. George and Thomaston, Mapleton and Presque Isle, even Portland-South Portland-Westbrook, are in the same local area.

    Until we are willing to acknowledge this, the municipalities will talk about “local control”, while expecting State revenue to assist — the question then becomes, “Who really is the local government?”  In the area of road maintenance, the State government really does act as the local road department on a significant portion of the local roads (the State-Aid system).   The same is true with the age-old problem of the State share of education.  The towns want the State to do what it has been tasked to do, namely, provide the 55% share of the funding, but if the State provides 55%, is the issue really local?

    Maine has been so focused on local control, that it has lost local control.  Consolidation is a way that larger areas, with greater combined tax base, can provide the base for funding, which could be a good way to return control to entities larger than the individual town, but considerably more local than having the State function as the local road department, the local school department, etc.

    Or we can rely on the same local government model and expect different results.  I wouldn’t bet on that one.

    • Anonymous

      Boy are you barking up the wrong tree. There is a draft plan by the Muskie School calling for Municipal service districts or MSD’s. One example is 16 towns west of Sebago Lake being consolidated. Creating a population of 29,000 with 16 representative, one from each town. Taxes would be paid to the MSD and Land use would be dictated by the MSD.
      Here is the kicker the report states. “The New England town is a thing of the past…by creation of MSD’s you will still know your local mailman and snow plow operator as such there will still be a connection. Here’s good news….this state and this country is founded on government by and for the people. The character of New England is formed on the basis of the town meeting form of government. Local people make the decisions..not one person from what would be a defunct town. The Town of Mount Desert Island was chartered in my 5th great grandfathers home. All of my ancestor’s participated in Town government. MSD’s would be an offense to over 200years of self reliance.
      Now comes the “new world order” Local control is leaving our grasp, our representatives do not listen to us. It is time to end this madness, save our Maine and New England heritage and do not capitulate to those who will destroy our way of life. As far as state revenue to assist…where does it come from..the taxpayers. They take it from you and give it back to you with a mandate just like the feds. Well if they didn’t take it we would well enough be able to afford to run our towns. But hey we need big bureaucracy to tell us what to do.

      • Anonymous

         We can continue to do what we have always done.  The results will likely be what they have always been.

        I think you have a false dilemma.  I didn’t suggest no local government, nor elimination of home rule.  I did suggest that the municipalities, in general, are too small.  I think for a Mt. Desert resident not to think of Bar Harbor or Trenton as local is getting to be a bit ridiculous.  If we could think of local in just a bit broader sense, then perhaps we could have municipalities that really could determine their own fate.

        As things stand now, state government has to assist.  That is going to come with strings.

        There are places where the New England town is not the be-all and end-all.  I suspect Montana and Idaho have residents who are every bit as interested in liberty and freedom as New Englanders are.

        Maybe Phil Congdon was right – more of us do need to get off the reservation.  But that would get in the way of our traditions. 

  • Anonymous

    I agree the whole is not always a predictor of the validity from its parts. Consider four small  schools with a combined enrollment of  169 students (33,34,69,33 .)  Some communities who are wealthy can well absorb the investment in a small school while those who have meager means suffer when they see their taxes increase by mils for education.Are these folks heartless and want to close schools? Emphatically NO! Yes, these folks  do support education. They are decent hardworking taxpayers struggling to get a balance as to what they can afford. Do not discount their concerns.
    Would it be cost effective to merge these four small schools into a K4-8 elementary school with an enrollment of 169 students which with 10 grades would mean an average of 16.9 students per classroom?  Would it open these students up to a diversity of ideas and learning experiences? Would the cost of education be higher or lower per pupil?  Class size is not a indicator of learning.  What is important in education is involved parents and good teachers !
    So as leaders look at what your community can afford. Innovate,create learning opportunities,  support good teachers and help parents take an active role in education. Don’t worry about loss of cultural indentity .

  • Anonymous

    If you had to vote between the two, Baldacci or Lepage?

    • Anonymous

      neither

    • Guest

      I will vote again!!! for our Great Governor Paul LePage!!! 

  • Guest

    This consolidation never had a fair set of rules to begin with. My kids belonged to a rural district that was a K-12 school that encompassed 6 towns. This district was adminsstered by 3 people. The 3 salaries combined did not total the salary of a superintendent in one of the areas that did not have to consolidate because they already met the criteria for number of students.
    These districts that did not have to consolidate are also the ones that have assistant superintendents who’s salaries exceeded our only superintendents salary. I could be wrong but I didn’t think a staff of 3 to administer 6 towns worth of kids from kindergarten to grade 12 was excessive. An assistant super following around the main super to meetings is a bit much. Maine is not a state where one set of rules works everywhere.

    • Anonymous

       Makes sense to me!

  • Guest

    Everyone keeps comparing our structure to other states. Other states are business friendly and have school districts administered through county government. These counties are in it for business and spur economic growth to assist in supporting their education. In addition other states use the lottery funds to pay for education. Maine puts all revenue in a general fund and then money gets spent where it shouldn’t rather than it going where it belongs

  • Anonymous

    Maine has 1.3 million people and 164 school districts. Nova Scotia has 900,00 people and… eight school districts. They do have 11 universities in NS, though. I guess they need them. In Maine, we’d rather waste the money on administration.

  • midmainer

    If consolidation is a failure, it is because the citizens of maine let it fail. the statewide attitude is that consolidation to save money is a great thing, until it involves my town, my police or fire department and my school. Consolidation has shown to be a huge success all across the country, but first we must give up our identity crisis and feuds that started for us in high school. Grow up folks.

    • Anonymous

      Education and government involvement in Education has been a dismal failure. There is no control over the system by the parents or local towns now that boards are consolidated. Regionalization is a path to destruction. There is nothing in the constitution that creates a federal board of education and the Maine constitution states specifically that Maine towns are responsible for educating children. There is no basis for the State department of education or the state school board. If you wanna save money get rid of the bureaucracy. Now comes the National common core standards…preparing our kids for a new form of “global governance”…not the Constitution, not Freedom…Don’t believe me…go to the Maine State Board of Education website and find the report on preparing our kids for the 21st century. Read the summary. Your “Statewide attitude”
      is nothing but a boatload of bunk.  Why is it that you operate on the premise that the Town next door gets a new fire truck so your town deserves one also. It is what taxpayers of a town can afford and the less control a taxpayer has the more expensive a system becomes. You need to grow up and look at reality which is not allowing government to tax us to death.

    • Guest

      I know what you mean, If I drive across the country,  there is not one city that doesn’t have a wal-mart… I agree with you and don’t understand why any city or town anywhere in the country needs an Identity.. I would go along with you to put a Wal-Mart, Lowes, Home Depot and  Best Buy in Bar Harbor, Rockport and any other little niche town in Maine.. I agree with you that if every town in the country is the same, we will never have to leave home.. How cool is that…..

  • Guest

    Let’s see: Eliminate one  or two management positions and then give 20 teachers a significant raise so that they come up to the pay level of the towns in the RSU they just formed. By the way- the teachers deserve raises regardless of the consolidation.

  • Anonymous

    Maine is a collection of towns, cities, and villages.  We are not a single mass that can be handled as such.  It was great foolishness to think consolidating based on imagined numbers created by the DOE number two (yes, I am aware of the connotation) who could not make it as a car salesman when the dealership was handed to him.  Mainers have always looked for way to work together.  We just don’t tolerate being told how to do it by failed restaurant managers, failed used car salesmen, and failed educators.  It doesn’t matter who is in the Blaine house, they are only out to further their own futures.

  • Anonymous

    So people from small towns, small school districts, etc, how would you pay for your schools if the evil state didn’t send you funds from the larger cities?  I am guessing many of the smaller towns depend on outside sources to meet budget needs.  You want local control, rely on local taxes.  I apologize if in fact all of these small schools could go it alone and do.

    • Guest

      Why do you think they left the larger schools alone??? They needed you to justify the take over.. It’s always divide and conquer, make people like you hate the smaller schools when you have no stake in it, because your school stays the same and is not effected by the changes. Hitler needed a certain class of people to allow him to remain in power, and did so but pitting one class against another.. and there will always be the followers…

      • Anonymous

        First, I attended a small school a decade or so ago, that being said I was just curious about the people (the citizens of the small towns) mentioning for people (the state) should stay out of local affairs and leave the towns alone all in while taking taxpayers money to subsidize the smaller towns schools, which in some cases are no longer needed….at least as far as the multiple layers of administrators go.  I am guessing many on here who are bitching are like myself a fiscal conservative, but yet when it comes to saving money by getting rid of many layers of uneeded admin positions they dont see the need in this case.

        • Anonymous

          Spoken like a true “other Mainer”

  • Anonymous

    School consolidation would have been a fine idea had it been thought through.  Even Baldacci’s original 26-district concept made more sense than what ultimately passed (in the dead of night w/o public input or knowledge).  The spin that most of Maine’s students are in consolidated districts ignores the fact that close to the majority of students were in Maine’s largest school systems – and those systems didn’t have to do darned thing except change their names. Those of us in rural areas know the 2007 law for what it was: an exercise in frustration and futility.

  • Anonymous

    This was a poor thought out plan.  This does not work  does not save money this was just another example in the game of politics.  All this was.. was an  to students and families. 

  • Guest

    Federal and State Mandates have given the wrong people control.. When was the last time if ever have you seen anything cost less with them in control???

  • Anonymous

    Baldacci and the Dem’s lied and why would anyone be surprised?

  • Guest

    I know how to save Bangor 10 millon of it’s 40 millon dollar school budget per year, maybe even more…  Put it out to bid, ahhh!!! yes!!! The Superintendent and school Board can Bid against  other Management compainies to run the Bangor Schools… Simple enough… Imagine saving $10,000.000 yrly, in Bangor alone….  thats alot of zero’s..

  • Anonymous

    So nobody likes school consolidation because it takes away local control but then they turn around and support the liviathan of our federal government with its ever growing love affair with expansion of authority and increased centralization of services across the board?  

    Give me a break…

    • Anonymous

      The teacher’s union runs the schools.

      • Guest

        ….

    • Anonymous

      Consolidation was a brain child of Mr. Baldacci to create some sort of legacy, Well he did and it fits well with all of his other blunders! So much time and money was wasted.
      Every day I realize more just how much impact on our lives that a few elected bureacrats have and they use it only to promote their own agendas.
      I become more cynical every day, but I can’t keep up.

  • Anonymous

    why do schools even need administration? last i knew the teachers, secretaries, and the principals, as well as the janitors run the schools… why pay someone 60k a year to maintain a budget? when the school itself can run itself with another 60k??? I’m sure it can be done.. 

  • Anonymous

    The teacher’s union runs the schools.

    • Anonymous

      a public misconception

  • Anonymous

    This was a joke from the beginning.    Politicians  were saying this is will save thousands of dollars. Where are the savings?    Another example politicians have no clue what they are doing.

  • Anonymous

    First of all what it all boiled down to was the Baldacci administration BLACKMAILING these districts into consolidation. Secondly, MSAD #25 – Katahdin, and CSD #9 – Southern Aroostook each had a budget of 3.5 million. We consolidated because we were told we HAD to, and lo and behold, our total budget is 9.5 million. Anybody can do the math and see that we are now 2.5 million over the budget before we consolidated. Taxes have gone up in Sherman and Patten.  No explanation yet as to how we ended up spending more, except that the Supt is getting $400. a day plus mileage, we are now paying a business manager $55,000. a year. Next year Katahdin is losing it’s SAVE program – kids will have to travel to Houlton. Haven’t seen one thing yet that has benefited the students. Give us back our MSAD #25 – things were much better then.

    • Guest

      John Baldacci and  Chris Galgay in unison: “I Love It when a plan comes together!”

      cue music – (theme from The A-Team)

  • Anonymous

    Shouldn’t the success of school consolidation also take into account student achievement?  Has student achievement increased or decreased in schools that were forced to consolidate?  Unfortunately, RSU 1 and RSU 2 have seen significant decreases in the % of students considered “proficient” on the SAT since schools consolidation (especially in Math).   School consolidation was never about increasing student achievement, it was about saving $.   The RSU’s try to save $ by mandating the same textbooks in all schools.  Since consolidation, input on curricula has been pushed out of reach of the parent and taxpayer funding the textbooks.  Before consolidation, it was much easier for a parent to address a curriculum concern with their local board.  If your child is now in an RSU, good luck trying to get the RSU to consider reviewing their approved curricula choices.  Parents questioning the fuzzy elementary math curricula pushed into nearly every school in Maine (Terc Investigations, Everyday Math, Trail Blazers, etc.) are managed using the “Delphi Technique.”  Outside organizations such as the Maine Math and Science Alliance have more influence on local textbook spending than local taxpayers, yet they aren’t accountable for their recommendations because they aren’t elected officials.  School Board reps tell parents that they must trust the “hand-picked” curriculum committee recommendation because they don’t have the time to do the research on their own.  Before consolidation, the towns in my area had well over 20 elected school board representatives.  Now, we have just 7.  They are spread so thin that they simply cannot do the research necessary before voting on important matters.  Perhaps, this was the goal in the end….

  • Mary Stubbs

    You think you’ve lost local control to the state now? Just wait until the National Common Core Standards go into full force. The federal government will have education by the balls! It’s already it a pretty firm grip on them now!

  • Anonymous

    EPIC FAIL

  • Anonymous

    Again another example of an unfunded program from the past.Wonder what magic can the dems can kick for this one.

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