2014-02-14 / Letters

Message from voters was clear

To the editor:

Dr. Steve Maraboli, bestselling author, speaker, and behavioral science academic, once wrote, “Get out of your own way… stop the paralysis by analysis … decide what you want, create a simple plan, and get moving.”

It would seem that our RSU 21 board could benefit from this advice. At its meeting on Feb. 3, considerable time was spent dealing with the resounding defeat of a $75 million spending question, one of the single largest school bond requests in Maine history that experienced an unprecedented turnout for a single-issue, off-cycle vote in of all months, January.

That townsfolk among our three RSU communities “misunderstood” the well meaning message to approve the spending seems logical to our board. It couldn’t possibly be that its cost was excessive, or that voters recognized the economically unsound decision to invest $22 million in two outlived elementary schools when existing modern facilities are underutilized presently, a trend that is projected to become more profound in just six years. Or perhaps the involvement of the special private interest Southern Maine Center for the Visual and Performing Arts in a publically funded school was indeed seen as a conflict with the public trust.

Rather than acknowledge the reality of an excessively ambitious price tag that only board member Frank Drigotis seems willing to do publicly, and regroup immediately to a plan with significant cuts, our board opted to consider hiring consultants at a “possible” cost range of $10,000 to $50,000 to study the “depth of sentiment” that contributed to the defeat, in order to better understand it. What?

Until the question of closure of Mildred L. Day and Consolidated schools is asked and answered at the polls, RSU leaders will be spinning their wheels incessantly trying to develop an effective approach to regain direction and purpose.

There’s no penalty to member municipality voters that choose to override a board vote to closure, cost sharing remains as is, and so what’s the problem? Rather than succumb to paralysis by analysis, let’s deal with the elephant in the room and then get moving. Until they do, we’re wasting time and students suffer.

Jeff Cole

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