In tough economic times there are always reasons to tighten the belt, but as Dr. Cook mentioned at a recent budget meeting, sometimes the more important step is to look at what you are getting with the money you are currently spending.
This year’s budget is up by only 0.65% over last year. Not many school districts can say that, and certainly few districts have accomplished as much with as little. Here is just a short list of some of the benefits the district has to offer:
- A significant increase in district NWEA scores.
- A rapidly growing Farm to School program that teaches students valuable skills.
- Robotics teams that help students learn technology in a hands on way that also fosters problem solving, curiosity, collaboration, and communication.
- A performing arts program that has seen a large number of alumni go on to have a career in that field.
- A number of sports teams and extracurricular activities that are accessible to all and that help build community and cooperation.
- A corps of teachers that contribute to the community in a multitude of ways.
- New staff members that have brought a great deal of energy to our schools, and veteran teachers that still strive to innovate in the classroom with programs like WES Math-movement.
- A high school tagging system that allows students to get the extra help they need in all classes.
- Kennebec County’s teacher of the year, Andy Forster.
- Maine’s assistant-principal of the year, Paula Callan.
- Elementary schools that are incredibly welcoming, and staffed with teachers and support staff who care deeply about the children.
- An expanded high school curriculum and schedule that allow students to discover and follow their passion and earn college credits.
It is easy to see the benefits for those families with school age children, but the truth is that having successful schools benefits the community as a whole. Good schools protect home prices and can increase sales price and shorten sales time. According to surveys conducted by Realtor.com, 1 in 5 buyers said that they would be willing to pay 6 to 10 percent more for a home in a neighborhood with good schools. In a rural area like ours, our schools also provide a community hub that offers valuable services and cultural programs.
RSU 18 has tried extremely hard to be responsible to taxpayers in our community while still trying to continue to provide for the education that our students need and deserve. We believe this budget balances these needs and hope that everyone in our community will come together to support this budget.
The district budget validation referendum will take place this Tuesday, May 24th. Polls are open from 8am to 8pm