2016-10-13 / Letters

Gamble wasn’t smart

To the editor:

If there is another attempt at building a casino in southern Maine, I would recommend it be built in Saco. There they will find plenty of people willing to chance incredible odds for some money.

In September, Councilors Dave Precourt, Roger Gay, William Doyle, Alan Minthorn and Nathan Johnston decided to block the Saco School Board’s request to ask Saco residents for a bond to get Young School students out of their obsolete trailers and into a real school. The bond would have also expanded Fairfield School so both schools could have started receiving state funding for a pre-K program. These councilmen preferred a long shot bet of having Saco grovel before the state Department of Education in hopes it will take away Saco’s responsibility for providing schools for our children. Even if this opportunity for this gamble existed back when the board requested the bond, I would have opposed it. First of all, bond rates at this time are at historic lows and will soon increase. That means for every year we wait for the DOE funding fairy to come through, our inevitable school project will cost millions more in interest. Also, the DOE considers a municipality’s wealth when they decide where this funding will go. Saco will have a tough time pleading poverty when its property values and family incomes are some of the highest in the state. What is truly sad is that for every year Saco waits for this gamble to pay off, we are turning down hundreds of thousands of DOE dollars that would have hired about a dozen pre-K teachers and ed techs. Having a pre-K program was a key component in our superintendent’s bold initiative to have Saco produce the best students in Maine. After the vote, Councilman Johnston was quoted as saying that if he did not take this gamble, he could not look our seniors in the eyes. I hope for him this long shot gamble pays off. Otherwise, he’ll have to look them in the eyes years later and explain why this project will cost extra millions in interest. He’ll also have to look children in the eyes and explain why they missed out on free pre-K education and had to attend school inside trailers instead of a real building.

Ted Sirois, Ward 6 Saco School Board

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