We are fortunate to have Harpswell Community School named one of the top 10 elementary schools in Maine. The faculty and staff’s deep passion and commitment to their students are big reasons why.

Therefore, we need to understand and appreciate what is at stake as Maine School Administrative District 75’s teacher contract negotiations are taking place.

A January 2022 article in Forbes states that, “According to a recent survey, 48% of teachers admitted that they had considered quitting within the last 30 days. Of that number, 34% said they were thinking about leaving the profession entirely.”

Teachers can’t just be replaced. They must go through a rigorous certification process. They have specialized skills. But more importantly, they have deep connections and relationships with their students, which are critical for helping those students learn and develop. Those relationships get forged, not just in the classroom during school hours, but around the edges. Teachers spend countless hours of their own time supporting, encouraging, cajoling and simply listening to their students. They are attentive to signals that most of us wouldn’t even notice.

I urge our school board to respect the professionalism and expertise of our teachers financially and contractually. The contract needs to be a win-win for the teachers and the district. We need to keep our exceptional educators by compensating them appropriately. Our MSAD 75 teachers care deeply about our students. They know each one and how to best support them. That’s priceless.

LeAnne Grillo, Harpswell