In recent weeks many opinions and desires have been expressed concerning a fence being erected at Mid-Coast School of Technology. The Region 8 Education Association at Mid-Coast School of Technology would like to take this opportunity to share our viewpoint since we are the ones working there during the school year. We understand the building occupies a piece of waterfront property with a beautiful view that the citizenry would like to enjoy at all times, however, the primary use of the building and property is to educate high school age children from nineteen towns in career trades.
Anyone who has watched the news even as recently as November 14, 2019 knows that school safety is critical given events of the past twenty years. That being said, as educators, student and staff safety is our primary concern. Feeling safe where you work and learn is paramount to being successful, and many of our students have expressed feeling safer with a fence in place. The property is governed by the Region 8 school board and among the many board policies one states there are to be no dogs on school property unless they are trained service dogs. Knowing this, therefore, we stand with the board. We recognize that this may pose a concern to a small group who were accustomed to using our school property to walk or train their dogs, both during or beyond school hours. We are sensitive to the needs of this small group, but we must be mindful of the larger picture that we serve students of nineteen communities. Some community members have expressed an opposing opinion and have purposely left dog waste in front of doors which then has to be cleaned up by staff so it will not be tracked into the building thereby making more work for something completely unnecessary and unsanitary.
Since we are a career and technical education (CTE) school, our classes have a different approach and many use the outdoors daily more so than a traditional school: Design Technology - filming, photography, and outdoor lessons on lighting and sound; Auto Tech/Marine & Diesel/Small Engines - moving projects in and out & testing projects; Outdoor Leadership - training, demonstrations, and practical learning purposes; Auto Collision - moving projects in and out/color matching paint in natural light; Firefighting/EMT - training. When students are outdoors learning, they do not want to be watched by people accessing the property. This would impede student focus and be intimidating for many students. Because of the behaviors of some community members, chains have been placed at the entrances of the circular access road which impacts students’ daily working schedules.
MCST would not be the exceptional center for learning if it were not for the support and understanding of the community. We are very interested in continuing the positive relationships that have been built over decades with our community partners. With this in mind, it is important that we communicate to everyone that no one is advocating a complete shut down of public access to the property. Pedestrian use and enjoyment before and after high school hours would not disrupt the school’s mission, and we welcome visitors to use designated areas of the property for their enjoyment. We only ask that state law prohibiting drugs and alcohol as well as board polices be adhered to by people taking a walk.
We value our relationship with the community as we teach the next generations of community members who will become the workers, business owners, and taxpayers of the future. We want to teach safely and productively not remove dog waste, put up chains, question trespassers, and request people not spontaneously interact with students. We are not asking to keep out the public but just simply asking to give our students room to learn and grow in a safe and secure environment, and for the public to utilize the space when it is appropriate. We are asking for a fence, not a wall. “ ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.” - Robert Frost, “Mending Wall”
Region 8 Education Association