RSU 16 budget is 'progress'

Sometimes the misunderstanding about what public education can do for a community is breathtaking.

In a recent letter to the editor, Bernice Fraser of Minot opposed preschool for 4-year-olds — which adds zero to local taxes — claiming that it does "nothing" for education.

But, says Kathleen McCartney, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, "There's increasing evidence that children gain a lot from going to preschool . . . they become exposed to numbers, letters and shapes . . . more important, they learn how to socialize — get along with other children, share, contribute to circle time."

Among the legacies that Mary Martin left Mechanic Falls was the pre-K program she started two years ago at Elm Street School (also under way at Poland Community School). When I visited that classroom every week, the kids demonstrated that, with loving and structured supervision, the thrill of learning is contagious. Just ask any kindergarten or first-grade teacher since then. They see the results every day.

What's more, according to former Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe, formal pre-K education actually leads to a reduction in juvenile crime, which helps explain why some 40 states now offer state-funded pre-K education.

Some taxpayers say that "my kids didn't get anything like that." OK, but with the proposed tax increase having shrunk to nearly nothing (actually nothing in Mechanic Falls), I know that one generation can afford to help the next one. It's called progress.

Dave Griffiths, Mechanic Falls

Member, RSU 16 School Committee

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Comments

 's picture

PLEASE check FACTS!!!

Bernice, with all (due) respect, you really are in over your head in this conversation. I've heard you say things like "We are not allowed to volunteer in the schools" and "Many of us could probably do things like...teach first grade". Now, "I have read reports that by the time they reach 3rd grade they all average out." I've taught for going on 18 years, and I've never been part of a school system that has not taken volunteers. Perhaps the reason you've not been allowed in is because you are unqualified to do so. You speak with a feigned confidence in this subject, when just the 3 above comments that I've plucked are so riddled with inaccuracy that I don't know where to start. But don't worry--your side has won the vote tonight. By 12 votes. And I'm sure that your misguided opinions were at the center of it all. But the FACT is that if you truly listened and tried to understand what was being discussed at these budget meetings, maybe you wouldn't have to make up numbers of what may happen in the next year or more of budget talks. Remember the $1.6 million shortfall that was projected last year? It never came. Because people who are foolish enough to try and "project" what next year's numbers could be are destined to, well, end up looking foolish. Just make it easier on everyone who needs to listen to you at these meetings and read your letters, and admit that you simply don't value a quality education. At least then I can give you credit for your honesty.

Bernice Fraser's picture

the facts

As far a the voulenteering? I had just moved into this town from adifferent state, I made a telephone call to the school, they( I imagine was the secretary told me they DO NOT accept volunteers). In the 30 seconds or so that I was on the phone they could had not been able to verify my qualifications. Unless you were listening on the phone you have no knowledge of what was said. I also volunteered to donate a large amount of craft materials that I owned and that too was denied. The senior citizens group in Lewiston was happy to receive this items to help them make craft projects for their craft sales. I have 2 children with Master degrees, and value education, but am also fiscally conservative and do not feel that this is the time to raise taxes, or take money for our emergency fund to give raises.

JENNIFER GAGNON's picture

Volunteers

I WORKED in RSU #16 and WE DO welcome and ENCOURAGE volunteers - that's what the "Volunteer" stickers are for in the office when you check in - just so you know. As far as the craft supplies go - talk to individual teachers and see if they need/want them. A secretary won't take something that may be thrown away. Check to see who needs them and they'll take them for sure. I would have loved to have them when I was there - depending what it was...

Bernice Fraser's picture

No pre school

I have no objection to kids getting an education, and any day care centers in the town will teach your children shapes,colors, how to use scissors safely,socializing skills. This is not the time to put extra burden on the tax payers. I have read reports that says by the time the children reach 3rd grade they all average out. For every study for the program you can find one against it. And eventually Mr. Griffith the tax payer will have to pay for this class, unless you and all are volunteering to run it at no expense. I volunteered 20 hours a week for 5 years, and 10 years actually working in the school systems, in the past, working with k-4 th graders, and in my time spent with these children I have found that family life and values were the important things to the children, and that is what kept them from being juvenille delinquent. Some kids will succeed and others will leave the schools, and get into trouble. Like I said previously it all depends on the family life.
In a time when families and seniors are struggling this budget is a slap in the face, if a few teachers have not had a raise in the last seven years give them the raise, it does not have to be across the board, and if Mr. Duquette is so intersted in helping out the kids let him give up his raise to help them. I was raised to believe that when times are difficult you buckle down and save, then when economics prosper you can spend . But to take money out of the emergency funds for raises is irresponsible.Maybe you come from the generation of I want it now and forget the price, but I sir am from the generation of, in hard time take it easy and stretch that dollar. You are entitled to your opinion and I to mine,lets put it in the voters hand and let them decide. I am not attacking any one, and I am not alone in my thoughts.

JENNIFER GAGNON's picture

For education?

So basically you are saying that since your children are no longer in school, you're not willing to pay for others' education.

"EVENTUALLY" the pre-k will be state mandated as it is in 40ish other states. So why not MAKE MONEY from it while we can? It is NOT a tax burden - it brings IN money - get your facts straight.

"It all depends on family life?" - What happens when the family life is increasingly bad in an increasing amount of homes - as seems to be the trend? Should we just forget those kids? I guess we're going to have an overwhelming amount of juvenile delinquents because we teachers can't help them, according to you. I'm sorry to be a part of that world.

Raises across the board? THE RAISES ARE NOT ACROSS THE BOARD! Again, as said in SEVERAL meetings - they are to make teachers in the RSU being paid less than others even with those getting paid more. SO I guess that's ok with you since you said give those that haven't had raises a raise. SO stop voting no for that point that you are apparently misguided on.

I can almost guarantee you that my household makes less than yours. I have been hit by the school budget twice.... I no longer have a teaching job. I AM IN FAVOR OF THIS BUDGET! I will stretch my dollar to find the small amount each month to help the children of the RSU. They are more important to me than coffee each week.

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