Though it seems to have escaped the attention of most newspapers, the Forecaster reports here that Bath-area RSU 1 takes effect today as the state’s first “reorganized” school district. This means the end of the Bath municipal school system as well as School Union 47, which, until today, included Arrowsic, Georgetown, Phippsburg, West Bath and Woolwich. Georgetown residents voted against joining the RSU 1, but the four other towns of School Union 47 approved joining the new district last November.
The effects of this change cannot be predicted, of course, but one thing that is known is that joining RSU 1 effectively ended school choice for the four former Union 47 towns. About 50 high school students in those towns chose to attend a school other than Morse High School in Bath, but that choice will no longer exist for families in those towns. Chalk up one more win for big government and the public school establishment.
Despite the lack of reporting about it, the launching of RSU 1 is an important milestone in the history of Maine schools. The state begins today an experiment in larger regional school districts, one that will spread statewide as consolidation efforts continue. The loss of school choice is one known result of these efforts, but the other outcomes are largely unknown. For years now, Maine has tried reform after reform – Learning Results, local assessment, Essential Programs and Services, LD 1, Laptops – and we have yet to see any meaningful gain in student achievement. Will consolidation be any different?
Time will tell…