The public will turn out to either approve or reject a proposed school budget of more than 24 million dollars for MSAD1.
But also they’ll decide to move forward or not with the purchase of 34 acres of land adjacent to the existing school farm. As Shawn Cunningham reports, before any land can be sold…more people first need to be sold on the idea.
All is quiet at the SAD 1 school farm. No students planting. Instead its school board officials wanting to plant the seeds for the school farm to continue for generations to come…by buying an additional 34 acres. SAD 1 Superintendent Gehrig Johnson says its makes perfect sense to do so and good business sense as well.
“we have a very investment over the years in that school farm and there’s a huge educational interest in what happens up there,” says Johnson.
But not everyone agrees with Johnson. City Council member Craig Green strongly opposes the idea saying it won’t reap good fruit for Presque Isle taxpayers, but instead ROT an already fiscally strapped community.
“The school has just in the last 2 years raised the taxes of people in PI by 800 thousand dollars by buying this land it will be an additional 150 thousand dollars which will mean PI residents will burden another 110 thousand dollars in additional taxes on top of the nearly 800 thousand,” says Green.
Furthermore Green accuses the school board of trying to slyly push the budget and the land purchase plan through without the general public’s knowledge. Johnson and other school board officials say the real issue is preserving the school farm project and keeping the land from being developed. Green says in more than ten years of the investment group that currently owns the land, no threat of development has ever occurred.
Green adds “Its not in danger of being sold no time soon.”
Some SAD 1 schoolboard members say the idea to buy the additional land is a good one. Paul Barrett, an SAD 1 School Boardmember says “at this point they’re wanting to sell the land so for us to ensure the continued school farm what’s currently occurring than its in our best interest to purchase the land.”
“Right now is not the time to be spending extra money to buy anything,” says Green.
Johnson adds “any purchase of any kind now is never a good time in the eyes of some we know that the price of land does not go down we know that this district is going to be in a position where its going to be needing land moving forward.”
The public will have a one time only final vote on the school farm measure Wednesday evening at 7pm at the school board meeting.