UPDATE: 16 Reorganization Plans and the Threat to School Choice
Read the full report | As The Maine Heritage Policy Center has previously reported, opportunities for Maine families to choose the schools their children attend are in danger as a result of the ongoing school district consolidation effort. For generations, families living in communities without a high school were allowed to send their children to a public or private school of their choice, paid for with public funds under Maine’s “town tuitioning” system. The district consolidation law, however, requires there be a public high school in every school district, and while the consolidation law nominally protects school choice where it has traditionally been available, school choice has been lost due to consolidation in the Bath area, and is threatened in other districts across Maine.
In July, we released a list of what we felt to be the 15 consolidation plans that posed the greatest potential threat to school choice. In developing that list, we first identified those school districts where choice is available and widely practiced, and then reviewed the consolidation proposals involving those districts, many of which were still under development at that time.
Now, three months later, most of the consolidation plans are near completion. For supporters of school choice, the results are mixed. A review of these updated consolidation plans indicates that school choice will indeed remain in place in a number of districts, but faces outright elimination in others. In two towns, the question of preserving school choice will go before voters.
We have reorganized the list of consolidation plans, beginning with those in which school choice faces its greatest threat. We have also added a sixteenth consolidation plan to our list, one that threatens school choice in the town of Orland.