Friday, October 24, 2008

Petition On School Consolidation Carries over 61,000 Signatures

The first step in the possible repeal of the school consolidation act has been taken.
A citizens initiated petition with over 61,000 certified signatures has been filed by the Maine Coalition to Save Schools, according to Lawrence “Skip” Greenlaw, the coalition’s chairman.
“Our message is quite simple,” Greenlaw said in filing the petition. “The governor, the commissioner of education, and some members of the legislature told us that school consolidation would save us millions of taxpayer dollars. Having worked with the law for a year, we now know that there will be no net savings. In fact school consolidation will cost local taxpayers millions more in increased property taxes.”
The legislation, passed in June 2007 as part of the budget resolution, calls for a reduction in the number of school districts in Maine. One of its stated purposes was to reduce the amount of money spent on administration.
The legislation has impacted the Kittery School District that is still seeking a district with which to partner. Unsuccessful talks have been held with York and Well-Ogunquit but no suitable agreement has been reached.
The original legislation called for the reduction in school districts from the 290 to 80. The idea was to combine administrative operations, not to close schools.
“In such stressful economic times, why are our elected leaders in Augusta so adamant about imposing a law which costs more than it saves?” Greenlaw asked. “This insanity must stop. The law must be repealed.”
“We trust that the members of the 124th Maine Legislature will enact our petition and repeal the school consolidation law as soon as possible,” Greenlaw said.
Depending on the action of the legislature the process begun with the presentation of the petition with over 6,000 more signatures than required by state law, could end with the voters having an opportunity to vote for or against the repeal in November of next year.
Greelaw thanked “all the volunteers who have worked so hard and who are committed to protecting the education of our children” and well as coalition members.