That’s what my daughter Elise said when I told her about Question 2, The Stand Up for Students campaign that is offering a referendum for the Nov. 8 ballot that would increase funding for our public schools by more than $157 million.
The proposal is funded by a three percent surcharge on the incomes of the wealthiest Mainers. It won’t apply to individuals who make less than $200,000; those who do would pay an additional $30 for every $1,000 they earn above $200,000.
This 3 percent fee on the top two percent of Maine households would generate about $157 million for our schools. Here in Brunswick, it would mean an additional $3 million in education funding.
I’ve lived in Brunswick for over 20 years. My family and I are proud to call Brunswick home and I am very lucky that both my children can attend public schools in Brunswick.
But over the past few years, I’ve seen first-hand that our schools are being asked to do more and more with less and less. Brunswick, like many communities, has been shortchanged by the state.
Even though voters told the state in 2003 to fund 55 percent of the cost of public education, the state hasn’t kept its promise. While costs go up every year, state funding for our schools has actually declined.
When the state fails to adequately fund schools, local schools like ours are faced with the awful decision of what services to cut and how much to raise property taxes.
In Brunswick we have made many tough choices, including eliminating positions such as reading and math specialists that help our struggling students.
My children have seen the effects of inadequate school funding in their classrooms.
My son Everett is an 9th grader at Brunswick High School. He loves science, especially chemistry, he supports the Stand up for Students Campaign so that students don’t have to learn in an underfunded school environment.
My daughter Elise is a sixth grader at Brunswick Junior High School. While she loves her school and her classes, she also wants the state to do more for all kids, which is why she’s supporting the Stand Up for Students Campaign.
Elise loves music. We are lucky to have a wonderful music program here in Brunswick but too many schools across the state don’t have a music program because they are lacking the funds.
As Elise says, “we all deserve to have the opportunity to express ourselves for who we are through music and art.”
While my children and I are proud to support the Stand Up for Students campaign, I know this initiative is not just about my children and my property taxes and my local public schools.
Supporting our schools helps us all, not only as parents and taxpayers, but as Mainers. There is no better investment than our kids and our schools.
Voting “YES” on Question 2 is our best opportunity at this time to better fund our schools and to simultaneously lower our property taxes.
We all will benefit when our schools are well funded and when we are doing everything we can to provide every child with the best educational opportunities possible.
Teresa Gillis represents District 3 on the Brunswick School Board.