2017-09-01 / Letters

Writers weigh in on school budget vote

To the editor:

I am a proud graduate of the Scarborough school system. I started at (Bessworth) then Wentworth and was excited to be part of the first class of students to attend the new middle school. I graduated from Scarborough High School in 2003. I cherish the special experiences that the school system provided me.

We took school trips to faraway places from New York City in seventh grade to Costa Rica my senior year of high school. If it weren’t for these experiential learning opportunities, I would be a less well-rounded and less-educated version of myself. Many of the courses I took in high school, such as Spanish and art, made me excited to learn more and pursue higher education. I never tested well in school and was always appreciative of the hands-on learning opportunities.

The special programs that the town funds should not be cut any more than they already have been so that future students can take advantage of the same high quality educational experiences I had. I now have two young children destined for the school system. In the blink of an eye, they will be learning, growing and benefiting from the same high quality education that I moved my family here from New York City to be a part of.

I implore you to vote yes on Sept. 5 if only so that the young children of Scarborough will not be detrimentally affected by additional budget cuts.

Amber Hoxha
Scarborough

To the editor:

My wife and I moved our family to Scarborough 20 months ago. As a father of two young children (a 2-year-old son and a 4-month-old daughter), Scarborough was the ideal fit. This town offers a short commute to maximize my time with family, a safe and welcoming neighborhood and most importantly, a strong school system. Recent budget struggles have been frustrating and disappointing.

Publically available data suggests we do not do nearly enough to promote our schools. Comparing the investment our town makes in its school system with respect to education spending as a percentage of total spending or per pupil spending in secondary schools demonstrates the lack of such support. We are outranked in one or both of these metrics by nearly every community nearby including South Portland, Saco, Biddeford, Gorham, Cape Elizabeth, Portland, Westbrook, Yarmouth, Falmouth, Gray, Buxton and Windham. These weaker school investments have come as Scarborough has boasted one of the lowest tax rates in the area.

Also disappointing are the signs opposing the proposed budget. Listening to friends and family discuss these signs, it is clear that these signs have led some residents to incorrect conclusions. The total tax rate increase proposed is now only 2.89 percent. Included in that proposal is an increase of only 2.78 percent in school expenditures during the next fiscal year.

Still, I am proud to be a member of our Scarborough community. Without a significant investment in education, our schools have demonstrated that they can be among the state’s best. Despite reductions in services, I have been encouraged by the leadership and hopefulness of our superintendent and members of the education community.

As a resident, I believe the school system is vital to our town’s success and will support it before, during, and after my children attend. As a father planning to send my children to Scarborough schools, this vote has felt very personal. Please be sure to vote yes this Tuesday to support our schools, our children, and our community.

Dan Quinn
Scarborough

To the editor:

I am writing to encourage everyone to vote yes on the school budget vote on Sept. 5. I live in Scarborough and my children are not currently in school yet, but they will be entering kindergarten within a few years. Although they are not yet students, I feel it’s important to be engaged in the status of our school resources both today and in the future, as any cuts made now will affect our future students as much as our current students, and possibly more. I would especially like to speak to other parents of young children like myself, who may or may not be as tuned in to the current situation.

I understand that there are two sides to every story, and I can certainly appreciate the concern some folks have on budgetary issues and taxes in general. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t specifically point out that our mil rate for taxation purposes is lower than the average of surrounding towns, and our per-pupil spending is significantly lower than that of surrounding towns. Scarborough is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 school districts in the state, which speaks to the quality of both the teachers and administrators, but also the community of parents and students at large. I fear that if we continue to handcuff the faculty and scholastic programs with a financial shortfall, it will be near impossible to keep Scarborough the kind of district that it is today. The students of the future, like my kids, will be the ones to bear that burden.

There are things to be done at the legislative level, to address state funding, or lack thereof, in the future, but that is a topic for another day. Let’s come together as a community and pass this budget, to avoid further rounds of negotiation with even deeper cuts. Vote yes on the school budget on Sept. 5.

Josh Bergren
Scarborough

To the editor:

On Sept. 5, Scarborough voters will have one more chance to vote on their taxes this year. We will be asked to approve a 6.7 percent increase in taxpayer funding of the schools. This is only slightly less than we voted down at the second budget referendum on July 25.

A no vote tells the town council that the 6.7 percent increase is still too high. It also tells them that a target of 3 percent or a little less for the overall tax rate increase it too high for many Scarborough taxpayers every year. We live in a very economically diverse town and many of those on Social Security saw an extremely small increase this year (outweighed by cuts in Medicare) and nothing last year. Think about that for a minute. Also those that lost a spouse, also lost their spouse’s Social Security income and are struggling with the same bills they had before the traumatic loss of their loved one. These are our parents, our kids’ grandparents.

Annual increases of 3 percent year after year may be affordable for higher income households, but they are not for many other families and those on fixed incomes including retired teachers I know. We should be helping those less fortunate and tightening our belts in town budget/school budget spending instead of always asking them to tighten theirs. Someday, you too will be on fixed incomes and retired and, hopefully, those that are younger will help look out for you. Children learn what they live. Yes, children are our future, but we owe it also to take care of those that took care of us. I have many friends in the education field and many children I love in these very schools, but I do not believe a no vote is, as some have stated, an anti-education vote just as I don’t believe a yes vote is anti-senior citizen or anti-less fortunate vote. A no vote is affordability for everyone.

Please vote no on Sept. 5 in support of affordable taxes for all Scarborough residents.

Paula Corbeau-O’Brien
Scarborough

Return to top