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angler.k
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Local districts have ownership of school plan!

[url=http://www.sunjournal.com/story/215729-3/OurView/Local_districts_have_ow... blame sift begins[/url]

Apparently it won't take long for the MSM to help Baldacci and the legislature cover their tracks. Oh, if only those pesky rural districts had gone along with the plan it would have been a success.

Gerald E. Thibodeau
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Re: And here's the real story

[quote="threeifbywire"]Maine school consolidation today on Meet the Press!
[list][url=http://mdischools.net/20070603_MeetThePress.pdf][transcript][/url][/list...

A devastaing "interview" by Tim Russert with a member of the Maine legislature on the school consolidation issue. [i](Note --according to a below posting the interview although posted above and available on Google is a parody.)[/i]

[b][u]Excerpts:[/u][/b](From 10 pages of Sunday's, June 3, Meet the Press)

[b]Tim Russert:[/b] What's driving the timetable?
[b]Legislator[/b]: We need political cover.

[b]Tim Russert[/b]: You are advocating for an unprecedented number of school mergers. In the private sector, when businesses merge costs increase initially due to severance costs, broken leases, moving costs, systems integration, salary and benefit increases to equalize compensation, program integration and so forth. How could you save $36.5 million in the same year you will incur significant merger-related costs?
[b]Legislator[/b]: That's a good question.

[b]Tim Russert[/b]: Are you confirming that the real savings do not come from school administration, but actually come from reducing educational programming?
[b]Legislator[/b]: Indeed. The lion's share of the savings resulting from the consolidation plan will come from reducing the level of educational programming across the state.

Why couldn't the Maine drive-by press ask such probing questions? It is unfortunate that Maine's press has been little more than lap dogs for Baldacci's scheme to reduce the state funding and quality of education in Maine.

Gerald E. Thibodeau
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Re: And here's the real story

[quote="Gerald E. Thibodeau"]
...[b]Tim Russert[/b]: You are advocating for an unprecedented number of school mergers. In the private sector, when businesses merge costs increase initially due to severance costs, broken leases, moving costs, systems integration, salary and benefit increases to equalize compensation, program integration and so forth. How could you save $36.5 million in the same year you will incur significant merger-related costs?

[b]Legislator[/b]: That's a good question. ...[/quote]

Anyone care to guess the legal fees the State of Maine has run up so far on legal questions surrounding the consolidation? not to mention the legal costs the municipalities and newly created districts will incur in separating schools from municipalities and the legal costs of organizing new districts etc. Sounds like a full employment act for lawyers. New work for accountants too as schools that were previously within municipalities will now need separate audits along with new computer systems and computers.

Maybe the "savings" of $36.5 million will be enough to pay what Tim Russert called "significant merger-related costs."

Love this Legislator's (who supports consolidation) answer to this and many of the questions posed by Tim Russert -- [u][b]"That's a good question."[/b][/u] (Too bad Maine's press did not have some "good questions.")

angler.k
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26 School Districts

The governor was just on WLOB saying what a great thing the budget/school consolidation was. I'd like to hear him answer some of those "good questions".

BTW; as far as the legal costs go, is there some statute that says the state has to spread around the business? It seems to me that the same law firm is always mentioned when ever legal questions come up, at the town, school and the state level.

mainemom
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You do understand that the Meet the Press bit was a parody, not a transcipt of an actual show?
I first saw it in an email from Tim Wheaton of the Yarmouth School Committee. I don't know if he wrote it.

Gerald E. Thibodeau
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[quote="mainemom"]You do understand that the Meet the Press bit was a parody, not a transcipt of an actual show?
I first saw it in an email from Tim Wheaton of the Yarmouth School Committee. I don't know if he wrote it.[/quote]

???A businessman gave me a copy of a "Meet the Press Transcript, June 3, 2007," 10 pages in length. He seemed certain that it was on Meet the Press, and it is identical to the "transcript" that was posted earlier on this thread, and it also comes up on Google. If it is a parody, it did present good questions that do not seem to have been addressed by the Maine media.

angler.k
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Can someone put lipstick on this pig?

Ok; the eggs are broken so it's time to try and make an omlette.

No one seems to KNOW, who's supposed to develop a "plan" for consolidation (the towns or the school districts), who sits in on the decision making process, and how we get to the point where the new super school boards exist. I've seen different "summaries" and they say different things. I'm sure that those legislators who voted for this bill have some idea how the process would work. Surely they wouldn't vote for something, with timelines we have to meet or face financial penalties, unless it was a plan that could work. Surely they wouldn't vote for something that would have an unknown affect no or cost to their constituants.

So, what's the plan, how does this thing get off the ground? I'm really interested in hearing it from someone who voted for the bill. My (choke) reps seem to be unavailable.

Sheffield
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Reorganization Planning

No, I can't imagine any legislators voting on an issue until they have a clear understanding

:roll:

Although the language in the legislation is not entirely clear, it appears as though existing school units and their school boards have the responsibility for developing and submitting the plans with the "reorganization planning committees" (reps from school unit, municipalities, and general public) serving in an advisory capacity.

In any event, the all-powerful Gendron and her minions will be conducting the 26 meetings beginning June 18. It's going to be an interesting ride. I am eagerly anticipating receipt of my next property tax bill and seeing significant savings.

Roger Ek
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Tell your kids to enjoy their 2007/2008 school year. It will be the last year of school as we knew it. July 1 of 2008 will be the beginning of Baldacci's great experiment. The same boondoggle has been tried in several sates and failed miserably. It's time to learn about private school and home schooling options. That's where the only savings in this catastrophe lie.

angler.k
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[quote]Although the language in the legislation is not entirely clear, it appears as though existing school units and their school boards have the responsibility for developing and submitting the plans with the "reorganization planning committees" (reps from school unit, municipalities, and general public) serving in an advisory capacity. [/quote]

So the legislation gives school boards the authority to make these decisions for the municipalities? If it doesn't, then I don't think that the boards have/should have that power. If it does give boards that authority, that's just another huge power grab (shift from the municipalities to someone else of their choosing) by the state. When people elected us to the school boards it was to do a job with limits. We were never elected to do something of this scope.

Some people at the last schoolboard meeting felt that this law was bound to be challanged in court.

Roger Ek
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Existing school boards have no power after June 30, 2008. All they can do is recommend before that what their school's fate will be.

mainemom
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[url=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18980244/]actual MTP transcript from June 3[/url]

The piece Gerald links is a bit of genius.
But the clues that it's not real include the legislator depicted as saying, that's a good question, instead of deflecting the question in order to repeat his talking points, the one attribute all MTP guests have in common.

Naran
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[quote][b]Doubt cast on school savings[/b]
[i]Five school districts find consolidation might cost taxpayers more, but the state criticizes the report.[/i]

By TESS NACELEWICZ, Staff Writer June 21, 2007

Critics have questioned all along whether a new state law
requiring school districts to consolidate will save money. A new
study commissioned by five districts north of Portland suggests
that the reorganization could cost taxpayers more.

"When you look at this analysis, there's really no tax savings. It's
going the opposite way," Yarmouth Superintendent Ken Murphy
said of the New England School Development Council's study,
which was released in summary form Wednesday. [/quote]

[url=http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=116036&ac=PHnws]Source[/url]

According to a local friend running the numbers, that's certainly the case for Kennebunk. If we consolidate with surrounding towns, numbers show our costs would increase [i]another[/i] $2.1M, on the conservative side. Ain't progress grand?

angler.k
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Funny Money

Qoutes from the site avove;

[quote]"...can't say exactly how the five districts would be
affected because too many factors are involved..."
"...he noted that the $36.5 million cut will come from
a projected increase of $80 million, meaning state funding for
2008-09 will be $43.5 million above next year's level."

"... criticized the study for not including other savings – in
transportation and special education"... "that are
expected when school districts reorganize." "Most of what has to
do with regionalization goes well beyond administrative
savings,"
[/quote]
It's no wonder that the state didn't provide lawmakers with any cost projections before the vote... that's good cover for later. I would have been much happier if the state had just reduced the projected increase and let us figure out how to deal with it while standing ready to assist if requested. The fact that the "savings" are really just the old...."I saved you money by not increasing as much as I was going to" trick, and that this "goes well beyond administrative savings" isn't getting any press. It's being sold as actually saving real money, and only affecting administration.

Has anyone been to the meetings that have gone on so far? What happened (besides the tap dance)?

Roger Ek
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The regional information session for school consolidation was held tonight in a hot auditorium in Lincoln. The moderator read the information sheet to the assembled citizenry for the benefit of any attendees who might not be able to read. This was followed by a question and comment session. There were a number of comments and none were supportive of this new law.

I reached the microphone and said, "Our district has a responsible and talented board. Last week we passed a budget that actually reduced our taxes. We have a balanced budget and very low debt. Some boards in our region spend money like drunken sailors and I have seen drunken sailors spend money! In my opinion the best option for our district is to delay joining any new SAU until after the 2008 election when we may have a new legislature that will put an end to this monster."

The whole audience erupted in applause. It was the only applause of the night and it was thunderous. I was taken aback and forgot to ask my question. I went to the end of the line and when I got back to the mike I pointed out that three out of five high schools in the region are full. The other two are remote. Most superintendents are over 50 years old. The minimum district size is 1,200 students. Assuming two parents per student, where does the state plan to find 80 "super supers" that must deal with 2,400 irate parents at this stage of their lives?

angler.k
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Roger;
An interesting angle... delay until after the next election. If you get on your Reorganization Planning Committee you should get that put in your "notice of intent" :lol:
But, they don't need to find 80 new supers, some of them are already on the job. It's only in rural Maine where there's changes going on, and the outgoing supers will become assistants for the first few years so that should ease the pain of transition.

democrat
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Roger, the school consolidation plan will not be overturned after the next election. Baldacci will still be governor, and this plan passed the legislature overwhelmingly. What makes you think that a majority of people will change their minds, let alone 2/3s?

angler.k
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Democrat: You seem to think that just because the legislature passed the bill the athe majority of "the people" were behind it. That's not always true. And, in this case I suspect that the people who weren't for it may make their views known at the ballot box in "08. At least in rural Maine, who were the ones' that took the shaft, legislators have a lot riding on the success or failure of consolidation.

Editor
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Bar Harbor Times

Commissioner defends consolidation at forum
By Tom Minervino
(Created: Sunday, July 1, 2007 2:17 PM EDT)

ELLSWORTH — Addressing a predominantly hostile audience, Susan Gendron, Maine's education commissioner, said school consolidation is about more than saving money. It’s intended to address the rising costs and declining enrollments in schools throughout the state by creating a more efficient and cooperative structure.

"This is not about just cutting costs," she said of the plan, signed into law in early June as part of the biennial budget. "This is about the sustainability of the education system."

[url=http://www.mainecoastnow.com/articles/2007/07/04/bar_harbor_times/local_...

Shandier
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I do know a bunch of smaller school systems (close geographically) are working with Gendron to make their own districts instead of the ones that Baldacci set up. These districts will group five or six small schools together instead of placing small schools with the large districts next door.

angler.k
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For those who don't know, there's lots of new information on the DOE website, including "guidance" on forming the reorganization planning committees and a form to fill out for the "statement of intent" that must be submitted (after much carefull thought and input from all concerned) by Aug 31.
I was suprised to learn, at the informational meeting, that the law had given the existing school boards new powers. So, you should have been looking for someone to fight city hall when you elected a board member, not someone to look out for the education of your kids.
Oh, and Ms Gendren, just who are the new systems supposed to be more cooperative with? The state, when the next dumb idea comes along?

Mike Lange
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Maybe I'm off-base, but here's something that doesn't make sense to me:

[i]December 1, 2007 – SAUs must submit their reorganization plan or alternative plan to the Commissioner.

December 15, 2007 – Commissioner will approve plans or must return any plan that does not meet the requirements with specific suggestions and written findings providing reasons why the plan did not meet the requirements. Reorganization Plans that have been submitted and approved by the Commissioner by December 15, 2007 will proceed to a municipal referendum.[/i]

Does anyone really believe that the DOE will be able to examine and recommend or reject every reorganization plan [u]within 15 days?[/u]

Excuse me. I'm looking to see if any pigs are flying past my office window. :D

Roger Ek
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Hey, if the Bush administration can review the records of 21,000,000 alien criminals in one day I bet Gendron's minions could review 80 consolidation plans in 2 weeks.

angler.k
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For the DOE it's a no brainer.. perfect fit.

Since most of the districts don't have any real choice a lot of them will be a rubber stamp. And so what if "the plan" is no good.. it won't be the DOE that's to blame, all they're looking at is to see if the magic number of students and districts is met.

Naran
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26 School Districts

[quote][b]Group spent more than $103,000 on legal fees[/b]

By SUSAN M. COVER
Staff Writer Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel Saturday, July 7, 2007

AUGUSTA -- The group that represents superintendents and school boards at the Statehouse spent more than $103,000 on legal fees while lobbying on the school district consolidation bill, according to information provided to Sen. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake.

Last month, Martin filed a Freedom of Access request ... to find out how much time and money the organization spent lobbying on the controversial bill. The association works on behalf of superintendents and school boards.[/quote]

[url=http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/news/local/4067213.html]Source[/url]

angler.k
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[quote] From the article; "I guess I am surprised it is as low as it is," he said. "It does not take into account the superintendents' time who were there during that period. We had a couple of superintendents who never left the building."

[/quote]

If there had been an open process for the development of a reasonable plan superentendents might have been able to carry on with other work. As it was, the state was shoving through a change that had many of us very concerned with little information being available from them. We pay superentendents to look out for the schools, and part of that is keeping us informed. We're still trying to figure out the "details".

BTW; the reader comment was great.

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