Selectman Mike Grass (left) listening to Selectman Dale Piirainen. file photo

WEST PARIS — At last Thursday’s meeting, Selectman Dale Piirainen read a letter from the Paris Board of Selectmen which addressed their concerns about the SAD 17 school budget. The letter, which was signed by all Paris selectmen, compared the budget to a “runaway train” that is “crippling” the SAD 17 towns.

“We (Paris Selectmen) are not suggesting that they (school board) do not work hard on the budget,” the letter states. “What we are suggesting is that they are coming at this job in an entirely different manner. School board members are basically led through the process by the superintendent and told that this is the amount we need and to question that amount infers that they don’t feel the children are worth the money or that education isn’t important. It is far from the truth and there is room to cut the budget without the children being negatively affected.”

The letter also said if any other towns would be interested in exploring ways to save tax dollars, the select board would want to meet with them.

The letter ended by saying “The first step is to come together. The next step would be to outline a brainstorming process. Then approach the superintendent and school board to share ideas that could possibly cut costs and avoid the ever rising school budget, which has a detrimental effect on our town’s taxes.

“It’s good that they’re interested and that they want to do something about this,” Piirainen said.

Piirainen encouraged residents to provide more input on the budget if they want to see change.

“The ball is in your court,” Piirainen said. “The issue is public involvement. You have to pay attention to things and you have to vote. The ultimate responsibility for the school budget rests in the residents, because everyone gets to vote on it.”

Selectman Mike Grass agreed with Piirainen, echoing that much of the town’s money goes toward the budget.

“This will continue to happen until the public comes to the budget vote and votes it down and sends a clear message to the school board and superintendent saying enough is enough,” Grass said.

Piirainen added that in the past, not many people have showed up to vote on the budget.

Selectmen agreed to craft a response to the letter.

SAD 17 voters approved a $40.9 million budget, 744-415, in June.


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