Name:

Alfreda Fournier

Email address

[email protected]

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Alfreda Fournier

Occupation or primary source of income

Retired educator, Maine educational system.

Education

University of Southern Maine, Gorham, preparing for the superintendency.

University of Southern Maine, Gorham, Master of Science degree in education: educational administration and special education administration

University of Maine at Farmington Bachelor of Science degree, general elementary K-8 and learning disabilities K-12.

Family information

My husband, Robert Fournier (now deceased), and I became Auburn citizens after marriage and obtaining work in the Auburn school system. Our daughter and son attended Auburn schools through graduation and are employed in the health care industry. I am proud of my three beautiful grandchildren. They are my constant reminders of my own need to give back to my community and to contribute toward creating a better future for them and all our citizens.

Public offices sought or held

I’m a member of the New Edward Little High School Committee, whose work will resume once state funding is forthcoming. I have been a public servant through my work as executive director of Child Development Services, Androscoggin County; elementary principal; special education director; and special education teacher. In these positions, I have had experience with consolidation of schools and school construction projects. My work as a change agent has created innovations which are still successfully in existence today, CDS programs within public schools being the most current. It is imperative that we continually evaluate current programs to determine their efficacy, and if there is need for a better way, pursue all options with input from related constituencies.

Do you favor consolidating the Twin Cities?

Yes.

Why? What is the benefit?

This answer requires a “big picture” view of how our cities function. It will take much time to explore each aspect of our operations to determine areas of efficiency and/or inefficiency. I think of this concept more as a partnership where we maintain our individual community identities, develop a “new collective identity,” and benefit from improvements financially, socially, esthetically and in overall services.

We are in financially constrained times. Many communities and schools are being forced to merge in order to survive. However, they do so quickly and may not take sufficient time to study costs, both present and projected, before a merger occurs.

Clearly, we need to do our research, consult with communities and schools who have merged to determine the pitfalls and recommendations, move slowly, and give opportunity for public opinion and input. We know that redundancy is costly. There are many areas where collective contracting of services and purchases are known to reduce costs. Public transportation readily comes to mind as another area of savings. Shared equipment is another. These areas can be effectively implemented.

I am in support of small businesses. Our cities’ small businesses struggle to survive. The idea of combined purchasing and services would encourage local businesses to become competitive in the bidding process and inspire them to be innovative in their delivery of these services.

Experts and specialists are needed in any field, be it civic or in schools. We currently have them. Singularly, these may entail part-time positions needed on either side of the river, which does not attract experienced, proficient individuals willing to move to our communities. However, if that need is shared and combined by both entities, it becomes affordable, reachable, and attracts the very best. Here, I am talking about positions we already have, not adding another layer.

What would convince you to change your opinion?

First and foremost, I would be opposed to consolidation if it would not be in the best interest of all citizens on both sides of the river.

Our cities possess tightly knit communities which have their own identity in which they take pride, find support, feel comfort, and which add to the overall fabric of these Twin Cities. This is one of the values which attracts newcomers to our communities.

As I have seen with previous consolidations, there may be hidden costs to taxpayers which were not evident from the start when the plan was not carefully thought out beforehand. In particular, I have seen cases where one community bears additional costs, far surpassing existing valuations, to make consolidation possible. This is one way to financially destroy that community, as citizens unable to afford higher taxes will move away. This would not be acceptable to me.

These are hard times, and the purpose of consolidation is to provide a more cost-effective way for our cities to operate efficiently and effectively, making it possible for our citizens to remain and prosper here, as well as attract new citizens. I would change my opinion if the commission’s plan were to evolve into a hierarchical ramping-up of new administrative positions and experts at taxpayer costs, while reducing many other positions.

We should look at our current workforce, streamline, reinvent job descriptions to fit the needs of both cities while maintaining rank-and-file labor as much as possible. In summary, we need working people who are proud to work here, want to live here, and whose taxes will support our cities’ infrastructure.

What is the single most important question for the Charter Commission to settle?

Will the commission’s plan be affordable and create communities in which we all want to live?

If the cities are combined, where should the city offices be located and why?

I believe in maintaining a presence in each city. As the plan fleshes out, this may be decided based on various departments. If we are to envision our Twin Cities as a shared community, then our offices need to be maintained within both cities.

Where should the main police station be located and why?

Considering our cities’ populations, it would be wise to maintain our police within both cities for proximity and safety purposes. The place and manner of conducting official business should be conducted on advisement of our police administration. We are not the experts in this area.

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