The week in the Education Committee -
Two bills stand out from the education committee this week.
First, LD 1689 - An Act To Repeal Certain Provisions Regarding the System Administration Allocation Affecting Maine SchoolDistricts in the 2018-2019 Biennial Budget
This bill seeks to remove the state mandated penalties to school districts if they fail to install regionalization components into the yearly plan.
This is a challenge for me on several levels. As a believer in the benefits of regionalization, I find the development of regionalized programs very exciting. They are important ways for local school districts to provide services in cost effective ways.
Yet, the current legislation attempts to work the situation from two different perspectives. First, the legislation seeks to create incentives for regionalized service centers. There is no guidance on the nature of what these service centers should look like; however, that’s OK as it allows those local districts to be creative in their approaches.
The central challenge to the current legislation is that it also provides for penalties. The penalties are taken from the administrative budget for the district. If the school district does not create regionalized service centers, then the penalties increase and negatively impact the administration of the district.
Regionalization is a good thing when it is created and managed by local school districts. No one opposes cost saving or service delivery efficiencies. But when the mandate is non-negotiable and contains significant operational penalties to the district, we must examine carefully the impact of the legislation.
I do believe that the best legislation creates incentives. I also believe that penalties do little to create anything but resentment. I will support LD1689 - in order to remove those penalities.
The second bill of the week which requires some commentary is LD 1761 An Act Regarding the Prohibition on the Possession of a Firearm on School Property. This is a bill which seeks to allows firearms on school grounds when that firearm is unloaded, locked and in storage - as in a gun rack in the back of a truck.
At first blush, this bill seems innocuous. It’s Maine, we have guns, we hunt. Why not?
The bill, however, falls short on three related issues.
First, the measure contains no enforcement measures. Who will determine that the gun is unloaded, locked, and locked up? Is that the job of the parent, or is that the job of the school? Shall the school hire a person to inspect cars and trucks as they enter the school parking lot?
More importantly, the measure contains no indication of liability. Who is responsible if something should go wrong? Is the parent responsible? Is the school responsible? Liability is not present as a discussion in the bill.
Most importantly, the measure represents that great American conflict between individual and communal rights. Is the individual, the gun carrier, to have greater freedom than the community’s needs for safety and security?
I believe that allowing guns on school grounds, despite the good intentions of the bill’s sponsors, is not a good idea.
A view of the Androscoggin
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As always feel free to contact me with qustions or observations.