Thursday, October 15, 2015

Brunswick Schools: Not as great as we’ve been told? Housing values depressed accordingly?




    Vulnerable individuals advised to have smelling salts at the ready!

   Schoolies should take special precautions; articles of faith at risk in what follows!


After years and years of attending town budget sessions, we’ve become virtually immune to fervent testimony from the Mommy Mafia asserting that “Brunswick has the best schools,” and that “my child’s teacher is the best teacher ever,” which is a variation on “Brunswick has the best teachers.”

We don’t have children in the Brunswick Schools, but we’re pretty convinced you could hear the same words in just about every town in America.  Who’s gonna admit they moved to and live in a town with less than ‘the best’ schools?  Is any parent going to say, in a public setting like budget deliberations, that they send their child to anything less than ‘the best school,’ or has anything less than ‘the best teacher?’

We don’t think so, Tim.

In recent years, BCU has brought union-like organizing to the ‘best schools, best teachers’ annual 25 mommy march for more money.  And now that we have an experienced realtor on the town council, we’ve been assured that the reason most people move to Brunswick is ‘because our schools are the best.’  If only she could tell us the reason most people move out of Brunswick; what tales that might tell.

How real estate agents would know this is beyond us, since objective evaluations of schools so a comparison can take place are verboten.  We must rely instead on realtors to evaluate them when shopping for a new home town.  Surely they’re objective; it’s their stock in trade.  Look at those ads they write in the Sunday papers.  Every home is the best, and just what you’re looking for.  Even more, the home has been looking for you -  ‘awaiting your personal touch to bring it to fullness of life once again.’  Hence, when such a sales agent tells a prospect that “Perfect’s schools are the best,” said prospect can take that to the bank.

We understand very dedicated realtors actually convene at quarterly retreats to discuss school rankings in their territories, thus ensuring their testimonies in this regard are timely and accurate.  We were going to confirm this by talking to agents in towns with schools that are less than the best, but we couldn’t find any in time to make our deadline.

You’ll just have to trust our local realtors on this; they’re not like all the rest.

So what you are about to read may be a problem for many of you.  A ‘noted’ opinion columnist and free-lance writer moved to our fair town last year, from a nearby town about which he frequently frothed.  Under the circumstances, we’re not sure why he moved; it surely couldn’t be the Downeaster tracks close by his former property, and discussions about expanding service on those tracks to 22 trains per day.  If he did, it would be a deft play on NIMBY-ism, and he’s too common-good oriented to do that.


A few weeks back, the local free weekly ran an article on the joint council-school board meeting held to discuss the state of disrepair for Brunswick’s government owned, maintained, and operated schools.  The article included a comment section, and sure enough, the AII certified writer (Attitude Instruction Illuminati) to whom we refer posted a comment.

The article and comments can be found here:

The learned opinion of the celebrated transplant from Yarmouth to Brunswick is this:

EABeem20 days ago

They don't build them like they used to. Portland High School was built in 1864 and is the oldest continuously operating public high school in the country. Of course, tens of millions of dollars have been spent over the years renovating and updating it, as I assume has been done in Weehauken (sic). Investing in our schools is the best investment a community can make. Not only do the school system and the facilities represent an investment in the future and reflect the values of a community, but tax dollars spent on education translate into higher home values. The house we bought last year in Brunswick would cost $150,000 more in Yarmouth, principally because of the quality of the schools. Yarmouth residents spent $20 million of their own money (no state help) to improve their school buildings in 2001.

The emphasis, as you might guess, is ours. 


Shocked is an understatement.

We’re filing this report for two reasons.  First, so local realtors can be sure to modify their endorsements of Brunswick schools.  Second, so the upcoming revaluation process can be sure to take this into account when comparing housing values between the two towns.  According to our neighbor the pundit, Brunswick housing values are hundreds of thousand lower than Yarmouth’s.

And we have a Downeaster train station!

Where’s the community justice?  Where’s the fairness?  Where’s the economic benefit?  Where’s the TOD driven housing demand, driving our prices ever upward?  Where’s the common good?

We despair; what else can one do in the midst of such cognitive dissonance?


Now you can’t call us sexist, can you?  And if you don’t mind, we’ll opt for a fairly well known adult beverage with which to console ourselves in the midst of such tragic revelations….on the internet for all to see, no less!!                 


OK, wait!  Stop the presses at Side’s printing subsidiary.  We may have to start prepping a story that says ‘Local AII Pundit to Reap $150,000 Windfall Profit; Thanks School Board.’


We feel moved to call upon the dusty crystal ball we keep in the bottom of the trash barrel here at our offices.  This is what we see, feel free to challenge our ‘vision.’  (It’s been a while since we had it checked, thank you.)

A plan to spend $35-40 million on Brunswick school assets will suddenly emerge as the only viable option, especially when you consider ‘the children.’  The referendum on bonding to cover this amount will conveniently align with the results of the town-wide revaluation.  The bond issue will be promoted as ‘partially offsetting the major reduction in tax rate that resulted from the assessment update.’

Timing is everything, it is written.  And this is timing at it’s most convenient for elected town officials, and the professionals who guide them “to do the right thing.”  The last figure I had for our tax rate for this year is $28.36.

Advice to the consultants who do the work may well end up lowering that rate to say….oh perhaps $23.00 or so.  But because we need to spend $35 million or more on physical school assets, it may have to grow to $25-26.00 or so to cover debt service.

See how it works?  Headlines will read that “even in the face of a huge new construction program, Brunswick leaders were able to keep the new tax rate lower than before.”

It’s magic, we say, especially if you pay your property taxes via your mortgage impound account,  which can make your head spin when the annual reconciliation statement arrives.


You’ll suddenly find that your house is worth $150,000 more (gosh, Mable, our investment is paying off!); your tax rate has gone down (just like they promised!).  Now if we could only figure out why our mortgage payment is going up so much.  Oh hell, it’s been happening year after year forever; we’re use to it.  Still, remind me to look into it and call ‘somebody’ to figure out what happened, will you hon?

No comments:

Post a Comment