Friday, October 24, 2008

Ogunquit News

Members of Ogunquit Rotary created this and other scarecrows for Rotary Park in Perkins Cove. It was entered in the annual Chamber of Commerce Scarecrow Contest for OgunquitFest October 24-26. (Pete Woodbury photo)

Central School “Dungeon” Receives Make-Over

When it comes to supporting her third grade son’s education, Robin Pastor is getting creative. The week before school began this year, Pastor completed a comprehensive mural that adorns the walls of the South Berwick Central School cafeteria. “I wanted to make the cafeteria an enjoyable place for the kids to eat in,” she explained. “They should be able to come in here and have a cheerful place to have their lunch.”
The hot air balloon-themed mural covers almost every part of the long cafeteria walls, and it took Pastor a solid week in August to complete. “It was supposed to be a joint project, but it ended up just being me. My husband Peter helped twice. And it included at least a couple long 11-hour days.”
The reactions by members of the school community have been positive. “The kids sent me letters. One little girl said: ‘It’s just so beautiful!’ and just to hear that was so priceless! To hear them say how much they love it and enjoy it just made the whole thing worth it.”
This is not the first time Pastor has made South Berwick Central School a more colorful place to be. During the summer of 2007, she painted a mural inside the school library. Her first mural, depicting children enjoying some outdoor summer reading, stretches from the library floor all the way up and onto the ceiling tiles.
Pastor has been recognized for her valuable artistic contributions to the school not only by the students and teachers, but also in a letter from her local state legislator Bonnie Gould. “This is addressed to me?” was Pastor’s initial reaction. “It turned out her kids went to school here ‘when it was a dungeon’. Then she thanked me for doing the mural, and that was so cool – It meant a lot.”
The school is hoping Pastor has at least one more project left in her. “I was approached for a large one that I’m not sure about – they’re looking for an athletic-type mural to go over some large windows that are now covered over in the gym.”
Pastor is a graphic design artist by trade, but is currently enrolled in courses to become a medical assistant. Why not paint full time? “I’m not sure how much demand there would be in this economy. But I love to do it, so I volunteer.”
Caption: The Central School cafeteria, or “the dungeon” as Bonnie Gould recalls from her childhood, was recently brightened by Robin Pastor’s handiwork. (Weekly Sentinel photo)

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.