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LETTER: Making good schools great

To the Editor:

As superintendent of Lewiston Public Schools, I want to respond to Dick Sabine’s lengthy criticism of the present contract between the Lewiston School Committee and our teachers (Letter to the Editor: “Teachers’ contract is too generous; school committee is complacent,” TCT, Oct. 27, 2011).

This contract is the result of a negotiation process that results in compromises and trade-offs on both sides. When certain sections are taken separately, most any contract will have provisions that may seem unduly generous or restrictive to employer or employee. Taken as a whole, however, this contract is generally competitive with our neighboring school districts.

In fact, if anything, I would like to see the next contract be more competitive in what we pay our teachers with three to 12 years of experience. Some of our teachers can make $7,000 more per year working in other school systems, and I am concerned Lewiston is losing very capable teachers to other districts.

Mr. Sabine did not mention whether or not he is interested in Lewiston being able to attract and retain the best talent we can.

I know that members of the Lewiston School Committee take seriously their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayer. Does Mr. Sabine know that our district is among the most cost effective in Maine? Our cost per student is more than 10% below the State average. This information can be found at www.maine.gov/education/data/ppcosts/2010/PPOCbySAU.pdf .

Mr. Sabine also didn’t mention that our teachers are at the forefront of a Maine initiative focusing on enhancing growth for all students, measuring teacher effectiveness, exploring new compensation alternatives and matching professional development directly with instructional practice. This initiative has been praised by both Maine’s Governor and the Commissioner of Education.

The bottom line is that Lewiston has cost-effective schools that are working hard on continuous improvement of students and staff alike. I am proud to lead a district where we are working collaboratively in so many ways to make our good schools great.

Bill Webster

Superintendent of Schools

 

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