Searching for “Mr. 550”

Dear Editor:

As a parent of two children attending the wonderful Cave Hill School in Eastbrook, I have carefully listened at meetings about the proposed Sumner consolidated middle school, all the while searching for someone. As a retired math teacher, I have a thing for numbers, so I call him (or her) “Mr. 550” and somehow this mysterious person remains elusive.

Mr. 550 decided that the new Sumner High School would have to have 550 students. Now Mr. 550, an employee of the Maine Department of Education, had access to data that showed that Sumner High School historically has in the low to mid-300s for student population.

Huh? I wonder why he picked 550, an impossible number to reach unless you gut the local K-8 schools of three grades. Now these local K-8 schools are already on shaky grounds in terms of viability. It’s only a matter of time until the inevitable call to build a consolidated elementary.

Then there will be no Cave Hill Bears at all. And to paraphrase our President, you can’t have a town without a school.

No one disagrees that Sumner needs a new high school. It is only “Mr. 550” who has set neighbor against neighbor, town and against town … and to what end? To spend $44 million where $35 million would do better?

Only Mr. 550 would spend an extra $10 million to increase class size. And bus kids to do it.

I will be voting against this Sumner referendum and I am confident that if it should fail there is ample time to resubmit a proposal for an excellent high school-only project that would be better for our children — and our tax bill.

Christopher Kerrigan



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