Public schools in general and teachers and administrators in particular have become popular targets of late, the most recent example being Gov. Baldacci’s criticism of school officials for exceeding the Essential Programs and Services model – the state funding formula for public schools – at a Jan. 17 press conference. Baldacci’s disparaging comments are off the mark for several reasons.
Until now, EPS was not promoted as a spending limit, but rather as a funding formula to determine the amount the state will reimburse local districts. LD 1, Baldacci’s highly touted budget reduction law, makes specific provisions for local voters to exceed the amount set for their district by EPS. If the governor is looking for someone to blame, he should look either to himself and the Legislature who are responsible for LD 1, or to local voters who chose to exceed the EPS model. If he did not want schools to exceed EPS, he should not have given the people the power to opt out of it, and he certainly should not criticize them for exercising that power.
Additionally, the top four performing districts in the state, based on last spring’s SAT scores, exceeded EPS limits by an average of 15 percent during the 2005-2006 school year. The higher test scores for which Baldacci and Maine Education Commissioner Susan Gendron have been calling will take resources to achieve, and if they want results, they are going to have to pay for them.
Donald J. Reiter, principal
Buckfield Junior-Senior High School