BDN Letter to Editor shows MHPC research getting out there


Good to know folks are reading our stuff. The following Letter to the Editor, appearing in today’s Bangor Daily News, borrows heavily from our report on the Sinclair Act.
A lid on consolidation
Since John Baldacci and Susan Gendron opened the Pandora’s box of school consolidation, much that has been written about it has been confusing, contradictory and subject to constant change. Maine Heritage Policy Center’s Aug. 23 report has been a breath of fresh air. It reminds readers of the 1957 Sinclair Act and spells out its unintended consequences and their relevance to us today.
Many of us are concerned that we’ll lose meaningful control of the schools our precious children attend. Let’s see. The Sinclair Act caused a 50 percent drop in the number of local school boards. As regional school units blend large and small districts, citizens in small districts may totally lose representation to large districts that may not share their communities’ values.
The Sinclair Act caused Maine to lose 40 percent of its schools. Susan Gendron says our schools can’t be closed outright. If an RSU votes to shut down a school, a community can keep that school open if it can pay the increased costs of doing so. Can your town? Said costs are determined by Susan Gendron with no process of appeal.
The rationale for consolidation is that too large a percentage of the educational dollar is spent on administration. It’s an attempt to cut this so more can be spent on actual teaching. This is what they were trying to do in 1957. So why did spending on school administration then go up by 40 percent from 3.4 percent to 6.7 percent of overall education costs? Inquiring minds want to know.
I know education spending can’t go on the way it has forever. But let’s put a lid on this nightmare of a plan and really involve the people of Maine in creating a rational alternative.
Julia Emily Hathaway