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Quick takes on the issues making news this week in central Maine …

THUMBS UP to the University of Maine at Farmington, which has seen its number of interns triple and its number of community partners quadruple in the two years since launching the Partnership for Civic Advancement, a program aimed at increasing experiential learning.

“For students, it’s a way for them to test career interests, to network and to gain skills,” Celeste Branham, vice president of student and community services, told the newspaper.

Colleges and universities throughout the country have justifiably been criticized for rising costs and a lack of attention on career planning for students. UMF should be commended for focusing on real-world experience for its students as an important part of higher education.

Fostering partnerships with local businesses and organizations is also a good way to keep bright and capable students in Maine following graduation.

THUMBS UP to the city of Gardiner for inviting leaders from nearby municipalities to a meeting Wednesday to discuss possible areas where they might consolidate services to save money.

But expectations on the effort should not be too high. Many neighboring municipalities already share services, and savings tends to be small when taken in the context of total local spending. Any savings is worthwhile, but the areas that are easily shared don’t often make a real dent in spending, and it is politically difficult, if not impossible, to form the type of regional services necessary for real savings.

Here’s hoping they prove us wrong.

THUMBS UP for Winthrop voters, who will finally get a chance to vote on the proposed school budget. It took pressure from residents and the school board, but the Town Council made the correct decision this week in restoring $100,000 the council had previously cut from the proposal before sending it to a ballot.

The debate regarding what percentage of health insurance premiums teachers should pay, one of the sticking points in the budget, will no doubt come up again. It is attractive to put the teachers in line with municipal employees, but town leaders should consider what other schools in the region and state are offering. That is who they are competing against for talented teachers.