The Board Members of School Union 122 (Woodland, New Sweden and Westmanland) would like to share our thoughts regarding a recent decision to tuition our students to Washburn/SAD 45. The small communities of School Union 122 hold strong bonds to our two small rural schools. These two schools are the center of our communities. This is where we host wedding receptions, PTA meetings, basketball games, many community dinners, and our town meetings to name only a few of our events. This is not to forget the main reason for our schools, which is to educate our next generation of youngsters.
Most of you know the number of students has steadily declined over the past decade and the state of Maine has not met its legal commitment to fund our school at the required 55%. Keeping our schools open has continued to be more and more challenging each year. We have been making significant cuts in our schools consistently for the past 6 or 7 years. Any future cuts will directly impact our ability to educate our students.
School Union 122 has a long history (nearly 20 years) of paying tuition for our high school students to our neighbors in Caribou/RSU 39. This was not always the case, as many years ago the students of School Union 122, went to both Caribou/RSU 39 and Washburn/SAD 45. The Union realized about 20 years ago that an exclusive contract with Caribou/RSU 39 would benefit both Caribou/RSU39 and School Union 122. We have long appreciated this relationship and felt there were mutual benefits to both communities.
As our Caribou/RSU 39 tuition rates per student have increased yearly and our federal and state funds decreased yearly, and our student numbers continue to decline, we needed to begin to think about new options. After several recent meetings with the Caribou/RSU 39 Board, it became apparent we needed to look beyond this option. School Union 122 had paid nearly 1.8 million to Caribou/ RSU 39 in the last three years. In discussions with the Washburn representatives it was very apparent they are invested in their students and appreciated the value of our students attending their school. Washburn recognizes they do not need to hire extra teachers or increase their overall expenses in any significant way when they accept our students into their school.
A few years ago, School Union 122 began to work with Washburn/SAD 45 as a few of our students requested a smaller high school opportunity. Both Caribou/RSU 39 and Washburn/SAD 45 have very similar educational options and rate evenly in their state educational testing.
Washburn/SAD 45 has offered a substantial decrease compared to the offer from Caribou/RSU 39 and they also offered to bus our children at no additional cost, which is another significant savings. We talked with Caribou/RSU 39 and shared the amount offered by Washburn/SAD 45 and they were not able to match this.
We owe it to our parents, our students and our taxpayers of School Union 122 to provide not only a high quality education, but to be fiscally responsible to our taxpayers during these difficult economic times. This opportunity will save the Union upwards of six figures yearly.
This decision was not made lightly as we value our relationships with all of our community neighbors. We offer this letter to the editor as a way to help our communities and our neighbor residents understand this recent change in education.
Union 122 School Board (Woodland, Westmanland and New Sweden)
SCHOOL UNION #122
Mission Statement: The
primary objective of School Union #122 is to teach
Vision Statement: School
Union #122 in partnership with students, parents,
Our Shared Vision Includes:
Community, parent, and student involvement as an
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