Release: Maine Policy releases the School Choice Map of Maine



October 5, 2021
Contact: Jacob Posik
Director of Communications
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Maine Policy Institute Releases the School Choice Map of Maine

New interactive map shows current and future Mainers their
school choice options based on residency

PORTLAND, Maine – Maine Policy Institute released a new project today that details the school choice options available to Maine families based on residency, including an interactive map that current and future Mainers can use to determine where they should live if they want access to school choice in Maine. Until this publication, families looking to find which Maine towns offer school choice to resident students could not easily access this information in a central database.

Maine offers little school choice options to students. Maine students do not have school choice unless they reside in a municipality that does not operate its own school at the student’s grade level, and does not have an existing contract with another school or district to educate its students. This means most Maine students must be educated at their local schools, regardless of the school’s overall fit for the child or the school’s performance, unless their family can afford to pay out of pocket for the student to be educated elsewhere.

According to the map and corresponding analysis, choice is concentrated in rural areas of Maine, primarily in small towns with low percentages of school-aged children. Students in 85 percent of Maine towns cannot be reimbursed for their educational choices and can only exercise choice if their family can afford to pay the full cost of attendance (tuition and transportation) out of pocket.

There are only 87 jurisdictions statewide that offer some measure of choice to resident students. Only 20 of those towns offer full school choice at every grade level, 48 offer full choice in high school (grades 9-12) and only two offer full choice in sixth grade through high school. The remaining 17 jurisdictions offer limited choice to a select number of schools at specific grade levels. 

“The pandemic and our state’s response to it has underscored the folly of one-size-fits-all education policy and the desperate need to expand school choice in Maine,” said Maine Policy CEO Matthew Gagnon. “Families that are unhappy with their local school’s pandemic policies for being too strict or too relaxed deserve the option to educate their children at a school that is safe, effective and best equipped to meet the needs of their children. 

“For too long, Maine has been funding school systems instead of students. It’s time for that to change, and our organization will not stop advocating for this policy until the entire School Choice Map of Maine is green, representing the availability of choice to every child in our state.”

The School Choice Map of Maine was created using data on school administrative unit organization and school choice options using public sources, including the Maine Department of Education website, municipal websites and through conversations with local school and municipal officials. The accompanying map visualization was created by matching this information with data from the State of Maine Geographic Information System for municipal boundary shapes. The full data set and sources can be found on a public spreadsheet available here.

A list of the jurisdictions that offer school choice options to students can be found in the graphic below.

Click here to view the School Choice Map of Maine and corresponding analysis.

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Maine Policy Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts detailed and timely research to educate the public, the media, and lawmakers about public policy solutions that advance economic freedom and individual liberty in Maine. Learn more about our work at