Maine School Boards Association
Maine School Boards Association Mission: To enhance the education of all students in Maine's public schools by identifying and serving the needs of local school boards through board development, information and support services, and by advocating for all Maine public schools at the state and national levels.
Resolution on School Reorganization
The Maine School Boards Association (MSBA) believes that the recently enacted consolidation law has numerous flaws that include:
1. Unreasonable time line requirements.
2. Unsubstantiated claims of cost savings and property tax relief.
3. Cost-shifting that will severely disadvantage some communities.
4. A cumbersome, costly, budget validation referendum approval process.
5. Not recognizing or honoring the demographic nature of our state with its requirement for 2500 pupil units.
The MSBA believes that, at a minimum, the law should be amended:
1. To give until July 1, 2010 for an approved Regional School Unit (RSU) to commence operation.
2. To require that the Department of Education prepare a validated financial analysis to show the citizens of each proposed RSU what the Department of Education (DOE) projects for General Purpose Aid and where the DOE believes savings could specifically be achieved.
3. To create a Special Task Force to identify the problems/issues being generated by the law as passed with the authority to make recommendations to the Legislature to correct and refine the law. The Task Force would be empowered to recommend changes to the school funding formula and recommend appropriations to accomplish the recommendations. The Task Force should be composed of school board members and other school representatives, municipal officials and citizens.
4. To give more attention to the benefits of regionalization of services as well as consolidation.
5. To authorize each RSU's Legislative Body to determine the method by which its budget is finally approved.
6. To allow each RSU to adopt its own cost-sharing agreements.
The above constitutes but a small portion of the issues that need to be addressed. MSBA believes that taking the time to identify, address, and correct the deficiencies of this law offers an opportunity to make voluntary consolidation and regionalization workable. If the Department of Education continues to portray this law as needing only minor adjustments to be workable, then the resulting consequences will directly and negatively impact all Maine students, schools, and communities.
The Maine School Boards Association directs its Officers, Board of Directors, and MSMA staff to work with members of the Maine Legislature and the Department of Education to achieve these significant and necessary amendments to the "Consolidation" law enacted as part of LD 499, the state budget bill. (Adopted 2007)
Repeal of School Consolidation Law
Whereas Public Law 2007, Chapter 240, Part XXXX mandates the formation of regional school units;
Whereas, small school districts and small schools have a proven record of providing quality education for our children;
Whereas, Maine citizens acting through their local school committees should be free to continue the governance of local education without financial coercion from state government;
Whereas the unsubstantiated claims of cost savings and property tax relief made to justify mandated school unit consolidation ignore the substantial costs of negotiating unified collective bargaining agreements;
Whereas, mandated school unit consolidation will require many communities to fund some of the cost of education for other municipalities within proposed regional school districts;
Whereas, mandated school unit consolidation will increase local property taxes in many municipalities;
Whereas, mandated school unit consolidation will diminish or destroy community involvement in education;
Whereas, mandated school unit consolidation burdens municipalities with a cumbersome, repetitive and expensive budget approval process;
And Whereas, implementation of mandated school unit consolidation expands the authority of state government and the Department of Education at the expense of local control of education.
Therefore, The Maine School Boards Association Delegate Assembly supports, recommends and advocates a citizen-initiated petition for a referendum to repeal mandated school consolidation as enacted in Public Law 2007, Chapter 240, Part XXXX.