As a Freeport resident, I feel it is important to speak up on the current debate surrounding the future of Regional School Unit 5. Durham, Freeport, and Pownal have a history of shared cooperation on education, but in recent years, relations have grown tense.
I don’t believe the current situation is sustainable. As a result, I’ve become an advocate for dissolving RSU 5. Dozens of towns are now having this conversation, and I believe the time is right for us to have it as well.
A vote to roll back consolidation doesn’t mean that we stop working together. All three towns can sit down at the negotiating table as equals, and have a discussion on how to move forward. We can return to a more flexible model. This would allow us to regain local control, and help keep costs low.
Many rumors are circulating which are meant to stifle debate. Free choice is still an option for towns that decide the RSU model is not working. Projections of multi-million dollar deficits are excessive and haven’t included cost efficiencies we had prior to 2008, like shared K-8 services. We are forced to build more capacity at the high school, while Brunswick has several hundred empty spots.
The current model is not working as intended. Five short years ago, we cooperated as neighbors, but we are now bound into a system that doesn’t account for local dynamics. I believe a return to local control is in all our best interests.