Letters, Jan. 30

Jan 30, 2014

Representative not seeking re-election

It has been a great honor to serve the residents of Maine House District 44, Islesboro, Lincolnville, Morrill, Searsmont, Liberty, Hope and Appleton as their state representative to the Legislature.

It is my decision not to seek this office in the upcoming elections.

The choices a person makes must be true to his or her own self. It may seem selfish to some but at this point in life it seems that spending time with my immediate family is most important. My wife and I have been blessed with three great children, five grandchildren and many friends. Now is our time to step back and cherish every moment.

Serving all of my constituents has been extremely important to me. It was important to me that I answer all and listen even if not always in total agreement. This I think I have done to the best of my ability. Hundreds, maybe even Thousands of calls, e-mails and personal contacts have been dealt with as they have come along. Others have told me to concentrate on the work at the State House only, but that isn’t me.

Each contact was an opportunity to make a new friend, not always in agreement, but a friend no less.

Your leaders today and in the future have many difficult choices. Government is shrinking, as it rightly should. Yet, the difficulty is that it is shrinking not by well thought-out planning and agreement, but by the forces of the well being overspent. At all levels of government, cuts are being made, many not pleasant.

As we, you and I and future leaders, we must trust one another and communicate, communicate, communicate. Your representatives at all levels must here from you.

Be engaged. Be active in town government, local boards, volunteer groups and/or in your schools.

People are often telling me they don’t get involved in politics. Bunk! Each day we all have different thoughts ideas and opinions than others yet we get along. That compromise, agreement, that give and take is politics. The greatest example of politics is family. We bring out different thoughts, debate, win and lose debates and still work together.

Once again, thank you all for this fantastic opportunity of serving you!

Jethro D. Pease

State Representative District # 44

Statement to the RSU 20 school board of directors

I come before you tonight to make two statements and a request. The first statement is that I hope the consolidation of the two high schools is no longer on the table for consideration in this school year. There has been no compelling evidence that the Searsport campus is far more costly to operate than the high school and middle school in Belfast. And the continued pressure by some on the RSU board to close the schools in Searsport may be illogical and irrational at this time. The movement of students and perhaps some staff to Belfast will only overload an already inadequate school, on the high school level, and even require portable  classrooms be installed to handle the crowding. Since there is an outstanding campus already in place in Searsport, with space to take in new students who might want to come, there is no rationale for reassignment at this time.

The second statement I will make is that the constant pressure and cliff hanging, supported by the reception of “pink slips” for the two administrators in Searsport, has created a stressful working environment and that that stress has been transmitted to the faculty, staff, students , volunteers and parents at the Searsport campus and the citizens of both towns. This is being clearly manifest in their overwhelming response to withdrawal petition drives, in both towns, organized and fulfilled this past week. This is a seriousness of purpose that is heartening to see. The restoration of peace and educational focus is needed as soon as possible for the successful completion of this school year on our Searsport campus.

I have been asked by Brian Campbell to serve on his development team for the STEM/focus school that is in the advanced planning stage. It is time for the good ideas and concepts to take form and for Searsport to become that Science, Technology, Engineering and Math center for the mid-coast. The pieces of the development of the STEM puzzle and the understandings needed from business and academia are in place. This center could be the shining star of the RSU 20 or an amazing standalone K-12 educational environment aimed at combining higher education, businesses and communities all contributing to the advancement in what will be something unique and special. They are on board; it is time for us to get this done. Combining schools is not in the plan for this program. So, once again, take the Searsport campus off the table for this year and consider a two-campus solution as the real solution to our middle and high school problems as stated above.

Finally, I have a request. I would ask that the RSU 20 administration prepare a valid cost per school and cost per pupil statement so that the RSU board will be prepared to make some difficult choices down the line. The per pupil cost of $17,000 per pupil in Searsport high school, should have set up a “red flag” due to it’s out of proportion costs. Since so many of the cries to consolidate the high and middle schools were predicated on that cost, and the savings expected by the closure of Searsport high and middle, the present situation is untenable at this time.

The lack of “due diligence” is somewhat disgraceful but this is in the past as of today. It is up to the administrators and their staffs to determine the full time equivalence (FTE) for each and every person paid in part or in full by the RSU 20 school department. If there is a gym teacher in a building for a quarter of a school day every day, they are a .25 paid staff to that school. When all of their time is added up among the schools they cover, their FTE should be 1.0. So Searsport did not have a full time principal at the high school and middle school but rather a .5 for each, or 1.0 for the two buildings. Teachers in the middle and high school were also counted twice and while it would be nice to be able to do two jobs at the same time, well —.

So there needs to be an accounting of everyone in all positions in the RSU 20 to develop a clearer picture. This is done in every school system that I have worked in with great clarity of cost. With the actual costs in place, a plan could be formulated to address the needs and placement of students in outstanding facilities with well qualified staff at all levels to see to the needs of our students.

Dr. Veronica Garvey Magnan, EdD.

Stockton Springs

Maine needs Medicaid expansion

I have been employed full time and uninsured for most of my adult life. Last summer I waited a week to go in for an x-ray on what turned out to be a broken foot because I couldn't afford it. The federal government has come up with a compromise solution to get everyone covered, and it is inhumane and foolish for the state of Maine to opt out of that solution.

A handful of Republican legislators stand in the way of 70,000 Mainers having access to health insurance through expanding the Medicaid program with federal funding, including Waldo County Sen. Mike Thibodeau, who basically does whatever LePage orders. These people are out of touch with the needs of the real working people of Maine and Waldo County. I bet Sen. Thibodeau and Governor LePage have great health insurance.

April Thibodeau

Belfast

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