Friday, June 9, 2017


(which is an acronym for “In Case You Missed It”)

This weeks Forecaster carries a lengthy article on the Brunswick School Budget kerfuffle, featuring Jean Powers prominently.  Jean deserves the coverage.  We just met her in the last year, but she has been a tireless trooper, bird-dogging the School Board and the Superintendent week after week on all the underlying details, and speaking up every chance she gets.

Your correspondent gets a mention in the article as well; we spent 3 hours plus in two sessions talking with Callie, the reporter, and loaded her up with lots of collected historical budget data.


Here are the opening words…..

BRUNSWICK — Retired farmer Jean Powers spent the afternoon of May 18 sitting at the dining-room table of her Redwood Lane home, studying the town budget.

Back when they were farmers, Jean’s husband, Dick, who sat in an armchair nearby, would brag that few people could harvest chicken eggs as fast as Jean. That afternoon, he bragged that no one is as meticulous or motivated as his wife, who hadn’t missed a public meeting on the budget since meetings began last winter.

Powers, 71, is a fixture at town government meetings. She is one of the most visible and regular critics of town spending – specifically, on matters involving the school system, which her two grandchildren attend. She regularly sends email about spending to a list of more than 60 people.

She isn’t alone.

The School Board has faced criticism for years, at meetings and online – notably from conservative former defense contract engineer Pem Schaeffer. He authors The Other Side of Town blog and, in 2007, sued to compel the State Board of Education to shrink funding for the Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School, after learning that the closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station would reduce the student body.

The case was never heard, although the state reduced the funding – something Councilor Sarah Brayman attributes to Schaeffer’s pressure.

The reference to the law suit in 2007 is imprecise; we sued to have the funding decision reversed, not to have the amount reduced.  Our point was that the decision was defective because the information on which it was based was outdated and erroneous.  No matter, the State  AG’s office crushed us like a bug before the case could ever be heard.

Whether or not the funding and school size was reduced because of our submission is unknown to us, because no one at the state level gave us no such insight or information.  Brayman may in fact be right; we just have no way of connecting the dots with hard data.

Given all the data we gave the reporter, we’re not going to chide her for the error in interpretation, especially since the issue is moot at this point.

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