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RSU pullout decision for Dixfield
To the Editor:
Next week, we all need to vote as there are many important decisions we must make. One issue is about the RSU pullout decision for the Dixfield voters.
Right now, only Peru has a petition going to join us. Carthage just started making noise about doing it as well. So Dixfield residents, vote if you feel it’s best for us all to pull out, because Dixfield and Peru cannot do it alone; it takes all four towns. And we will not proceed until all four towns agree to.
A strong "yes" vote in Dixfield might get the other towns motivated to get going. That said, we all know that taxes seldom go down.
But there are steps that we can take to help them not go up as much as they have. Staying in RSU 10 will only continue to cost us more. The last three years we were in SAD 21 (that’s as far as I could find records for), we were always below the state average in educating our students.
The last year we were an SAD we were $200 under the state average of what it costs to educate each student. Plus we had over $200,000 in reserve. Now, every year we have been in the RSU, we have paid between $300 and last year $800 over the state average!
Does that sound like we are saving money? That is around a $1,000 per student turn around. And that’s every student, from grade one to senior, about 2300 kids. Do the math (almost $3 million), and it should scare you!
We are constantly told we are saving by being in an RSU but look at what our school budgets have done recently. I realize that it’s hard for the budget to not go up but does it have to increase that much? I think not. Just ask any retired teacher or administrator and they can tell you the areas that there is still a lot of fluff.
Of course the current teachers are trying to protect their job and rightfully so. No one is going to tell their boss, “well, we really don’t need this.”That’s only common sense. But the folks in the administration should be able to find the fat and reduce it.
Another problem with staying with the RSU is that we lose local control. For example, there are a few folks each year that put on a spaghetti feed for the football team before every game. Guess you could call them Friends of Dirigo Football. They have always used "our" school’s kitchen to put the meal on. And why not, didn’t “they” pay for our school and the kitchen with their tax money?
The “Friends" pay for everything, pasta, sausce, plates, drinks deserts, everything. All they did in the kitchen was warm the pasta and heat the garlic bread, then washes up. Now that we have joined the RSU, they must have a kitchen employee there the whole time they use “our” kitchen! At a cost of what because it’s overtime for them. Never had to do that when we were an SAD. Is that saving money?
Also, Dixfield voted against the budget this past year but the budget passed anyway! Did we again lose local control? Our school budget last year was almost 60% of our entire tax bill!! An increase of about 20% from when we were an SAD. And this is just the beginning, what will they take away or add to us next? And if Dixfield votes against the budget again, it still can be passed no matter what we do or say!
In conclusion, for Dirigo to remain Dirigo and remove ourselves from the RSU, the towns of Canton and Carthage need to come aboard as well or this won’t work. Peru is now in the process of doing what is needed to go back. The reason the other two towns must come with us [if they want to go back to what we were] is that the pullout process is similar to a divorce.
When our four towns sold out to the RSU, we did not get anything in return. So in order for us to get our schools and buses back, we must all be involved. Just one or two towns can't do it without it costing us more than we pay now. So it is vital that Canton and Carthage start the same process that Dixfield and Peru have. It won’t work without them!
So if the folks in those two towns are happy with the RSU, so be it. I just think they and we will continue to pay more than needed. This is not going to be easy. But bigger is not better and it’s also more costly. Right now the talk is that a merge won’t happen for eight to 12 years but just a few months ago it was put on the table to do it for next year. And now it’s going to be eight to 12 years? Why such a sudden change? Everyone knew the state was not going to be giving any money for any new schools for years to come.
So Dixfield, vote the way you feel and remember, if it will cost us more to remove ourselves from the RSU, it will not be done.