[HCCN] Consolidation repeal and the Governor (at it again)

Dick Atlee atlee at umd.edu
Thu Oct 15 11:48:40 EDT 2009

Just in case you are a Democrat and receive the Governor's letter 
peddling false statistics (as his administration has done throughout the 
whole consolidation affair), it might be useful to be aware of the 
following.  It should be noted that the intent of the consolidation 
repeal effort is to permit those districts who have successfully 
consolidated and are satisfied with the current situation to keep that 
status, simply converting from RSUs to SADs.

Although the ballot initiative line-up makes it tempting to vote NO on 
everything, I hope you'll consider voting YES on #3, whatever your 
school district situation.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	Fw: Press Release
Date: 	Thu, 15 Oct 2009 11:32:01 -0400
From: 	skip greenlaw <skipg at midmaine.com>

Good morning everyone,

I have just sent this press release out to the Maine press in response
to the Governor's letter of yesterday paid for by the Maine Democratic
Party.  Thank you to all who helped edit.  Please give this press
release you greatest circulation to your many friends and
acquaintances.  Judy, please add to our website.  Phil, please add this
to our facebook page.

Contact Betsy Saltonstall, 596-4823, or www.betsyscs at aol.com
if you want bumper stickers.  She has 10000
in her car and she wants to mail them out today.

Let's all keep working hard and talking with our friends to vote YES on

----- Original Message -----
*From:* skip greenlaw <mailto:skipg at midmaine.com>
*Sent:* Thursday, October 15, 2009 11:25 AM
*Subject:* Press Release

Maine Coalition to Save Schools
Contact: Skip Greenlaw, 460-1260

Stonington-  Repeal of the school consolidation law (question 3 on the
ballot) will _not_ cost Maine taxpayers one cent.  There is significant
information which suggests that there is _no net cost savings_ to school

Gov. John Baldacci is making incorrect claims about the cost of
repealing his failed school consolidation mandate.
He is trying to confuse voters by saying the $37 million which was cut
from state aid to schools as part of the school consolidation law is
really savings.  "Even his own staff knows that is not correct," said
Skip Greenlaw, head of the Maine Coalition to Save Schools, which
collected 61,193 signatures needed to put repeal on the Nov. 3 ballot.
"Basically, the governor needed to cut $37 million in expenditures to
balance his budget last year," Greenlaw said. "Now he's trying to
influence the outcome of the referendum vote by rewriting history."  The
reality is that by voting Yes on question 3 to repeal consolidation,
Mainers will save money now and in the future.  Voters in 125
communities understood the issue of costs and savings when they rejected
the mandate despite the threat of penalties that are scheduled to go
into effect next year.  Consolidation in most areas of the state cost
more than it saves.

Here are the facts:

-Among the 26 new districts that did form under the consolidation
mandate, there has been an unexpected shift onto
  communities, with property tax rates going up by 25 to 30 percent in
some areas.  Towns that are getting hit by tax hikes want out, but there
is no escape hatch in the law.

-The largest hidden cost in the law is the requirement that teacher
contracts be merged, which will lead to a leveling up of pay scales.
Those merged contracts will cost some communities a half a million
dollars or more each year in increased teacher costs.

-The greatest missed opportunity for cost savings is the law does not
recognize regional cooperatives as a legal alternative to mandated
consolidation, even though these could apply to all school districts,
regardless of size.

-The current mandate actually exempts 65 districts, comprising 55
percent of the students in Maine- the same regions where the majority of
school funding is spent.  Governor Baldacci also claims that 85 percent
of Maine students are now served by the reorganized districts.  This is
patently untrue.  The law has managed to consolidate enough districts to
serve 27 percent of our students.

"Why aren't we encouraging all districts to work together on
collaborations that make sense for the cities and towns involved instead
of trying to perpetuate failed legislation?" Greenlaw asked.  The state
has spent more than $4 million to try and enforce the mandate, but
Baldacci's own commissioner of education acknowledges that it is too
soon to quantify whether any money has been saved.

Baldacci made his claim about savings (otherwise known as reduction in
state aid) in a letter paid for by the Maine Democratic Party that was
sent out on Wednesday, Oct 14 and emailed to enrolled democrats in the
state.  Greenlaw
said he was personally disappointed that the governor had decided to
take his case only to Democrats and not to all Maine taxpayers.  "The
letter to Democrats suggest that he wants to rally his political base to
defeat Question 3.
Educational matters have never been a partisan issue in Maine, and I
believe that the governor has done a great disservice to our children
and all Maine residents by trying to make this a partisan issue.  Why is
he so wed to this failed law when there are so many other pressing
issues facing the state?" Greenlaw asked.

Greenlaw invited the governor to participate in a public debate on the
repeal of the school consolidation law, but his office declined.   "I or
a member of the coalition will be more than happy to debate Governor
Baldacci or Education
Commissioner Gendron if they change their mind", Greenlaw said.  "It's
time to clear the air about how much this mandate already had cost
taxpayers in the state."

"The prudent choice is to repeal the school consolidation law by voting
YES on Question 3.  Repeal will cost Maine taxpayers nothing;
consolidation may cost Maine taxpayers much more in the long run,"
Greenlaw concluded.

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