2016-05-20 / Letters

Watch out for what other people are wishing

To the editor:

Once again, Arundel is starting down a path that could lead to its withdrawal from RSU 21. There are some folks in town who think that would be a great idea. Those folks say that withdrawal would return Arundel to post-primary school choice and local control of how we spend our tax dollars.

The first step in the state-mandated process for withdrawal comes up for a secret ballot vote by the town’s taxpayers on June 14.

Yet lost in all the emotional outcries for withdrawal are some pretty basic facts that clearly show that Arundel would be not only educationally, but financially, crazy as well to cut itself loose from the educational system that our RSU 21 association with Kennebunk and Kennebunkport gives us.

In a nutshell, if we are stupid enough to pull out, it will cost our little town a huge amount of money. Plus, it will quickly result in lowering the quality of education as we will struggle to pay kindergarten through grade five staff.

Withdrawal will likely cripple our future economic development, burden our many retirees (and others living on a fixed or modest income) and lower the quality of education for our youth.

Prove it, proponents of withdrawal will cry. “We need a new financial study. We were independent once and could be again.” But once was a time not too long ago when our primary school was struggling, there was never enough money for teachers or supplies and our rankings by the state put us in the bottom 30 percent of all Maine schools academically.

Now, since consolidation it is a different story. Mildred L. Day is ranked among the top 10 percent of all Maine primary schools and the rest of the RSU 21 schools are top-ranked as well.

There are really only three numbers that drive why it makes absolute sense for us to stay in RSU 21. They are these: 22 percent, 10 percent and 13 percent. We have 22 percent of the students in RSU 21, we represent 10 percent of the three-town valuation, and our computed fair share to educate them is 13 percent of the annual RSU 21 budget.

Today, that’s true whether or not that education takes place in the RSU system, which includes sending tuition money and kids to TAMS and Thornton Academy. Pull out and we alone will be paying 100 percent tuition for all Arundel children in grades six through 12. That is an extra $2-plus million annually that we alone as taxpayers would be taking on.

So watch out for what other people are wishing for you.

If Arundel residents don’t show up and vote no in the June 14 election, it could end up costing us millions for years to come and raise the property tax rate by 35 to 40 percent.

Dorothy Gregoire
Arundel

Return to top