The Education and Cultural Affairs Committee of the Maine Legislature recently heard a bill (LD 1553), sponsored by Sen. Garrett Mason of Lisbon Falls, to authorize the creation of public charter schools in Maine.
I am deeply troubled by this proposed legislation. It raises fundamental concerns about the impact on existing public schools, which already struggle for support. As a former chairwoman of the Minot School Committee, and current member of the Budget Committee, I often hear concerns expressed about the cost of educating children. Just last week, townspeople from RSU 16 (Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland) gathered to vote on next year’s proposed school budget. The budget passed — by four votes. In this week’s final budget referendum, the school budget failed to pass, by significant margins.
In a rural state such as Maine, it will be more expensive and less efficient to create entire new schools out of today’s existing resources — resources that are already underfunded by the state. The result: increased burdens for local taxpayers.
Providing a quality education for young people should be a high priority. That’s not just a nice sentiment about doing right by our kids — it’s smart for Maine. The future of the state’s economy depends on an educated work force. It’s just that simple.
People should focus on making the schools the best they can be, rather than creating an entire new system of education to be regulated and funded.
Colleen Quint, Minot