Letters to the Editor, Week of October 26, 2017

Food drive to assist residents in Puerto Rico

To the editor:

Erskine Academy Spanish teacher Sonia Stevenson has informed me that the school is holding a food drive to assist residents of the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico which, as I’m sure all readers know, was almost completely devastated by a recent hurricane. In an attempt to support three specific towns, Erskine students and staff are seeking foods that are stable and that will better survive what will possibly be a long journey to the island. This includes dry vegetables like beans, rice, canned foods like tuna and chicken and also, over the counter medications. There are drop boxes at the Erskine Academy campus and any and all donations will be greatly appreciated!

Bob Bennett
China

Local production nominated for Grammy

To the editor:

A few weeks ago I made reference to the music presentation that was done last year for the board in connection with the Holocaust. I told you that it was catching on nation wide. I was holding off until it became official, but I can now share with you the rest of the story:

On Monday, October 16, 2017, the Grammy Awards ballot was published by the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. In the Choral category is listed the Messalonskee Public Schools album “Songs of Darkness and Hope.”

Yes, the production that was produced by our students has been nominated for a Grammy. I heard from Kevin Rhein today, the CD is being sent to every Holocaust Museum in the country.

Congratulations to everyone involved. As you can imagine they are incredibly proud and excited. I know you are as well.

Carl Gartley
Superintendent of Schools
RSU #18

Urges large voter turnout on school question

To the editor:

On Election Day, Winslow voters will decide if they will borrow $10.325 million to consolidate the Winslow School system. Of that total amount, $5.14 million will be spent to expand and renovate the high school for the addition of the seventh and eighth grades, $755,000 to expand the auxiliary gym at the high school, $230,000 to expand the cafeteria at the high school and $2.95 million for a 600 seat Performing Arts Center. Another $600,000 will be dedicated to the renovation of the Elementary School to accommodate the sixth grade. In addition, $650,000 will be provided for demolition of the Junior High if other uses can not be found. Over the next 20 years, Winslow property taxpayers will repay at least $13.73 million including interest.

For the median household, property taxes will increase by at least $158 more per year to pay the annual debt cost of at least $687,000 per year for the next 20 years. Combined with the existing school debt payment of $415,000 per year, the median household in Winslow will need to pay over $250 per year to support the education debt. The Winslow School Board concluded that the Junior High structure was no longer viable due to the decrease in school’s sixth to eighth grade enrollment from 413 students in 2000 to a projected 227 students in 2020, and the significant capital investment needed to restore the structure to an acceptable standard. Overall, Winslow’s school enrollment is decreasing. In 2020, there will be 472 fewer students than were enrolled in 2000.

The proposed $2.95 million expenditure for a 600-seat Performing Arts Center is based on the stated need for more space to support the programs and activities. In 2008, there were 527 students in the high school utilizing the existing 210-seat auditorium. In 2020, there will be a projected combined 7-12 grade enrollment of 533.

When the school board voted to close the Junior High in August 2016, it was reported that the proposal to consolidate to the existing Elementary and High School would cost less than $5 million. Voters are now being asked to support a $10 million project.

I would urge Winslow residents to vote early or on November 7 since the outcome will have a significant impact on property taxes as well determine the voter’s approval to borrow $10.325 million to support the school consolidation proposal. A large voter turnout will ensure that the will of the people of Winslow is represented.

Ken Fletcher
Winslow Town Councilor

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