Bill to help Governor Baxter School for the Deaf gets green light from Education Committee

Posted: January 21, 2016 | Education and Cultural Affairs, Senator Breen
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Sen. Cathy Breen, second from left, is joined by MECDHH Executive Director David Sherry, MECDHH Consultant Barbara Keefe, and Rep. Teresa Pierce, D-Falmouth.

Sen. Cathy Breen, second from left, is joined by MECDHH Executive Director David Sherry, MECDHH Consultant Barbara Keefe, and Rep. Teresa Pierce, D-Falmouth.

AUGUSTA — The Legislature’s Education Committee on Thursday gave unanimous approval to a bill by Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, that will level the playing field and empower alumni and supporters of the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf to make charitable contributions to support the school.

The bill — LD 1469, “An Act To Promote Private Fund-raising for the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf” — would allow the Falmouth-based school to engage in private fundraising.

“There is simply no good reason why a one-of-its kind school like this one shouldn’t be allowed to accept private donations just like every other school district,” said Sen. Breen. “Former students, parents and anyone who want to see the Baxter School succeed should be able to contribute to its success. I thank the committee for its thoughtful consideration of this bill, and am eager to present this commonsense plan to the full Senate.”

Since its founding in the 1960s, the school has provided necessary, effective, and cutting-edge education programs to Maine students who are deaf and hard of hearing.  The school’s main campus is located on Mackworth Island in Falmouth, an enduring gift to the state from Gov. Percival Baxter.

Today, the school serves students not only at its Mackworth Island campus, but in local school districts all over the state. Like many educational programs, this school has evolved, grown and adapted to the ever-changing needs of the community it serves.  And not every need and challenge is met with public dollars. When the school sought recently to embark on a fundraising campaign, it learned that current state law prohibits it from doing so.

The bill now faces initial votes in the Senate and the House.

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