Thank you for your two recent well-written about Regional School Unit 18. It may help to share RSU 18 academic excellence successes. Our graduation rate is 94 percent, versus the 84 percent rate when the RSU was formed, and significantly above the Maine and national rate. Our grade 7-12 dropout rate is 0.86 percent, well below the state and national rates. Seventy percent of our graduates plan to go to college or join the military, 126 of our 2016 graduates took collegiate AP exams, and 273 students are “dual enrolled” at Thomas College or KVCC taking college courses. RSU 18 graduates have gone Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, MIT, Northeastern, NYU, Tufts, the University of Rochester and WPI.

Our goal is to ensure that our young men and women get the best academic start in life we can afford. Times are demanding — there are externally imposed special education requirements, more special needs students, imposed “proficiency-based learning,” imposed food service requirements, and reductions in state funding. Our economy is demanding better educated graduates knowledgeable in database management, tools like Excel, statistics, and hands-on experience (wood working, metal forming, writing, team skills, programming, web page development, computer generated imagery, etc.).

The bottom line is, we, the RSU 18 five-town team (China, Oakland, Belgrade, Sidney and Rome) are doing ever better for these important young men and women who are under our collective stewardship. But it is costing us more.

It is worth it? Will our investment endure? For our children, our towns and our state the answer is — unequivocally. These young men and women will pay us all back in more ways than we can imagine.

Dr. Andrew G. Cook

Rome