2015-04-10 / Letters

Work together to keep community strong

To the editor:

Last week’s front page story, “Final town budget numbers are in,” was informative. Two somewhat related items caught my eye. Kennebunk’s latest high ranking as a welcoming place for retiring seniors is a lovely compliment to both administrators and residents. However, seniors (I am one) do not usually involve themselves in school matters, tending to be more worried about tax increases. Their concern is misplaced, and here’s why. While I was an elected village trustee and deputy mayor of a very successful village for 16 years plus seven years as a library trustee, I learned that a school district’s reputation had the most influence on home prices.

Two similar houses in the same neighborhood, even on opposite sides of the same road, would be priced differently by tens of thousands of dollars because they were located in different school districts, one excellent, one not as good. Some may think this is a good thing, but it is not. The additional taxes we pay to have a good school district will be returned tenfold when it is time to sell our houses. You may think that higher valuations will mean higher taxes, but as the tax base increases, the mil rate comes down. Besides, I don’t want to live in a village predominantly populated with elders like me. If I did, I would have left for warmer climes before this winter. We need families to attract corporations and to keep our communities vibrant.

The second item quoted Selectman Richard Morin referring to discussion about school funding as being “that can of worms.” Worms? Really? School board members are also elected officials, serving with less power, less funds and in RSU 21, with more facility problems than selectmen ever dreamed of, primarily because previous administrations did not fight hard enough for needed funds. Can of worms, indeed.

These are your fellow citizens, who have supported a dilapidated high school, that is now academically ranked fifth in the state, and Consolidated School, which, while falling down and borderline condemnable received the rare, distinguished Blue Ribbon School recognition. Mildred L. Day School is another success story. I have seen many citizens of all ages put in countless hours to try to bring our school buildings into the 21st century so we can compete for families with other southern Maine villages.

It is time for the selectmen, village manager, etc. to stop competing with education for tax dollars and instead to work with the board of education and together try to have a wider view of what will keep our communities strong.

Lou Miller

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