2016-02-26 / Letters

Put your money where mouth is

To the editor:

In a Feb. 12 letter to the editor, Ernie Stanhope takes school board members Rick Carter and Tappan Fitzgerald to task for opposing private advertising in our public schools. Well, thanks to the lead of our new superintendent, Ken Kunin, Mr. Stanhope may finally get his wish.

Mr. Stanhope says, and I quote, “As a local business owner I am proud to support our athletes in any way I can.” Has it not occurred to Mr. Stanhope that if he is such an altruist, he could simply make a donation to the athletic program of his choice any time he’d like? However, Mr. Stanhope only seems to want to support our athletes in return for advertising. Perhaps his motives aren’t quite as noble as he’d have us believe.

As for Superintendent Kunin, having attended the meeting where the school board voted to allow him to proceed with this ill-conceived plan, he seems to think that selling advertising to finance our athletic programs is somehow “innovative.” It is not. I’ll tell you what would be a bit more original. If private advertising is really the best way to fund our public schools, rather than taking it upon himself to sell off space to the highest bidder on public property owned by all of us, perhaps Mr. Kunin could instead sell advertising on the walls of his own home first and donate the proceeds to the school system. Perhaps the side of his car would make a nice billboard. Why maybe he could even sew some ads into the lapels of his jackets. I’m sure it could be done quite tastefully too just as he promises the ads in our schools would be.

Mr. Kunin has taught our school kids a very valuable lesson about the country we live in though, and that is that the notion of there being such a thing as the public good has been rendered a complete joke and that absolutely everything in the U.S. of A. is for sale if the price is right.

However, it doesn’t have to be. In a recent city council meeting, the city’s finance director explained that just last year alone South Portland collected a few million extra dollars in tax revenue that is currently unaccounted for. This is on top of the tens of millions of dollars the city already has in reserve. I agree that it is beneficial to have money in reserve and applaud the finance director for planning ahead and making sure we have these rainy day funds. Now would seem to be a good time to use a small fraction of them. This city has plenty of money. No new taxes are needed to fund the shortfall in the athletic budget in the coming year as the taxes have already been paid. Please contact city officials and ask that they put them to use. Public schools should be funded with public money, period. If they cannot be then we have truly failed as a society.

Greg Lewis South Portland

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