As I described in an op-ed in yesterday’s Kennebec Journal, the district consolidation effort is not moving forward quite as well as some would have us believe.
With regard to school choice that may be a good thing. As we’ve reported repeatedly, school choice options are under threat from consolidation efforts in many parts of the state. In July, we identified 15 consolidation plans worthy of careful scrutiny for the effects those plans might have on school choice options.
The Department of Education just released an update of where the 75-80 consolidation plans are at this point, which gives us a chance to track how our 15 “watchlist” consolidation plans are doing.
The good news is that other than in Bath, consolidation has not meant the loss of choice anywhere yet. Choice has been preserved in Dresden, the only town with choice in the two consolidated districts approved by voters thus far.
The Department characterizes as “awaiting DOE review or RPC revisions” three of the fifteen plans we identified as having implications for choice:
- The MSAD 38/MSAD 48 plan, (at least under the provisions of an earlier version of the plan) would eliminate the choice options MSAD 38 high schoolers now have under a waiver program. No word on whether the plan now under review by DOE contains that provision. There is already a group organized to oppose the plan.
- The Freeport/Pownal/Durham plan would eliminate choice for Durham and Pownal. The plan barely made it out the Freeport School Committee and is opposed by an organized and vocal parent group in Freeport.
- The plan for the Wiscasset/Alna/Chelsea/Palermo area would preserve school choice, as was reported only weeks ago.
So, though choice is threatened in two of the three plans, there is some mounting opposition, especially in Freeport, which may sink those proposals when they ultimately go before voters.
The dozen other plans we listed are “in progress” according to the DOE.
So far…so good…