Vote YES! – RSU 18 Budget Story by Bob Bennett RSU 18 Board of Director from China

Posted: June 23, 2015 in Uncategorized


To The Citizens of China (RSU18),

I started composing this letter in my head as I sat in the China Lake Conference Center on the evening of June 12 watching the 8th graders “graduate” from the China Middle School. As I watched these kids receive their diplomas, A number of thoughts ran through my mind.

These young people were students I had in class when I did a two week substitute teaching stint at CMS my first fall after retirement from Erskine Academy. Watching them move across the stage, I was amazed at how much they had matured, both physically and as young adults, as evidenced by the various awards and recognitions that many had received, according to the commendations read by Principal Carl Gartley. I also realized that these students, and their peers, are the foundation of our future. Through them and their accomplishments, or difficulties, our society will be determined for the rest of my life and all of theirs. It is for that reason that as citizens we must give them the best possible education and school experience that we can. At this particular moment in time, this hinges on the passing of the 2015-16 RSU 18 budget in the referendum on June 30.

Regional School Unit 18, comprised of the towns of Belgrade, China, Oakland, Rome and Sidney, is the largest school district in central Maine. The combined student enrollment exceeds 3,000 and the staff numbers about 500. The district functions very efficiently. The per-student cost for the proposed budget is $11,362, the lowest in our immediate area. Yet, the percentage amounts spent on student instruction and support are among the highest, and administrative costs are considerably lower than most neighboring school districts. These facts reflect an intelligent and effective use of your tax dollars. And yes, this proposed budget, even with its less than 3% increase, will impact property taxes, mine included.

Much of this increase concerns issues over which the towns of the district, and the district administration, have no control. The state has shifted an increased amount of teacher retirement costs to local districts, and at the same time is not meeting the legally required funding levels as set by the State Legislature several years ago. Given these issues, it is remarkable that the RSU has kept its financial outlays and requests as low as they have been for the past several years. And, this monetary care has led to other issues as well since our contingency or emergency fund level is extremely low, to the point where getting necessary loans may become difficult.

In closing, as a member of the RSU 18 School Board and a resident of China, I sincerely request that you get out and vote to support the district’s budget on June 30. In addition, gather support from friends, neighbors and family members; every vote counts and it is crucial that this budget be approved. Our society and the way it functions depends to a great extent on the ways that our students are educated. OnJune 30, give them, and us, a fighting chance for success!

Bob Bennett

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