2016-04-22 / Letters

Cost of school district withdrawal just doesn’t add up

To the editor:

$2 million a year? Withdrawal will cost Arundel over $2 million a year more in taxes (not a typo) for the next 20 years. On June 14 Arundel voters face a major decision, when we will vote on whether to move ahead with a $45,000 financial study and initiate the withdrawal process from RSU 21.

Why so much? Basically it’s because Arundel now has a great education deal. Arundel participates today in a cost sharing as part of RSU 21. Arundel has approximately 10 percent of our three-community property valuation, supplies 22 percent of the kids, and will pay $4.5 million this year for education, or about 13 percent (rounded up) of the total RSU 21 education cost. In return, the RSU 21 delivers an outstanding education for our children. ML Day now ranks in the top 10 percent in Maine. MSK is well up in the top 5 percent. KHS, recently nationally acclaimed, is in the top 10 percent as well.

Clearly the withdrawers didn’t do their financial homework before initiating this withdrawal petition. For Arundel taxpayers, leaving RSU 21 would translate into at least a $5 mil per $1,000 property valuation increase. That’s about $1,000/year on a $200,000 home. The huge increase would be driven by the difference between paying about 13 percent and having 22 percent of the kids versus 100 percent of the costs if we are on our own.

Arundel’s new solo school district operational costs would be an estimated $8.9 million less the $2.99 million state subsidy for a total of about $5.9 million. The key drivers are special education ($1 million more) and tuition ($2.9 million more) – and we would pay for all of it on our own.

Then add in the cost of buying back a newly rebuilt K-5 school along with paying back the RSU for the many improvements made over the past seven years. Add in the other contractual obligations associated with the $56.6 million RSU 21 bond. That’s another $1-2 million per year for 20 years.

The sane alternative by voting no to withdrawal this June 14 means you can stop this insanity – now. We don’t need another independent study costing some $45,000 to fine-tune the numbers. The costs of withdrawal are clear enough right now.

Please vote no to withdrawal June 14, 2016. Absentee ballots are available May 16.

Jack Reetz

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