Lincoln County News | Newcastle, ME
Sunday, May 29, 2016 Serving Maine and Lincoln County for over a century. Volume 141 Issue 21


home : letters : letters to the editor May 29, 2016

8/27/2014 2:00:00 PM
Blatant Disrespect for Voters

To the Editor:

I came home from the special meeting of the Jefferson School Committee on Aug. 19 angry and puzzled by the committee's vote to confirm their denial of increasing the art, music and physical education positions from .5 to .8 days per week. By the raising of only three hands, the 242 votes cast in good faith by residents who favored the increase of these programs were discarded as unimportant and irrelevant.

I have lived in four states in the past 50 years and been involved in bureaucracies at both the local and county levels in each, and never have I seen such blatant disrespect for voters. Elected committee members have no business putting their personal agendas and opinions ahead of the wishes of 60 percent of the voters.

Three members of the committee decided their preference was for two ed-tech positions instead of the increased time for the students' exposure to the arts and healthy exercise. One member declared that he "can't believe that there's a teacher out there that doesn't want help."

He was quickly countered by Heather Northrup, a Jefferson teacher, who read a statement from the teaching staff that clearly said it did not support or approve of the committee's autocratic decision to cast out the town's vote. Have Jefferson voters been led down the rosy path of thinking that their time and effort in going to public meetings regarding an issue and then making their informed decisions at the polls mean something? Maybe not any more. Has democracy died in Jefferson?

Several folks at the meeting stood up to voice their anger and concern about the surprise change. A letter from a past student was read who expressed her appreciation for the special art education she received at the village school Then several budget committee members stated their opinions.

No budgetary issues were mentioned, but they were acting as advisors on education with the added bonus of the usual rambling and repetitive diatribe challenging the effectiveness of the school administration.

If only the budget committee would leave their black and white world of "running their numbers" and spend some quality time in classrooms to gain a better understanding of how the "kid-sized" human element increases the difficulty and complexity of both teaching and learning. Teachers and administrators are hard-working and dedicated people who deserve respect.

Their thoughts about how education can be improved should be valued.

The perception of a growing number of Jefferson folks is that there is an element outside of the school committee that is influencing, encouraging and maybe even coaching some members of the committee to undermine and challenge the efforts of school administration. If this perception is the reality, it is an alarming trend that should not continue.

I am hoping that this matter will be reconsidered and resolved to the satisfaction of the voters who have clearly spoken. I am unable to attend the board's Sept. 9 meeting, but let this letter serve as my statement of a total lack of both respect for and trust in the three committee members who are clearly on a power trip that is not in the best interest of the school or the voting public.

Ellie Day
Former Jefferson School Committee member

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