Town Votes to Eliminate 'Private School Choice' Program

Mar 26, 2018

Residents of the Midcoast town of Alna have voted in favor of eliminating the town's elementary "private school choice" program.

Alna is one of only a few towns in Maine that helps to fund students' educations at any public or private school, from kindergarten through 12th grade. It's a policy that local parents say has benefitted students.

But recently, Alna officials have expressed worries about increased taxes due to families potentially moving to their town to take advantage of the policy.

Alna selectman Doug Baston says the town's vote to get rid of private school choice for new students in kindergarten through eighth grade will still allow families to choose from any public school. He thinks that will keep Alna attractive to families.

"We don't have our own schools, and we won't have our own schools," Baston says. "So I think for the long-term, that's the solution for Alna and its families.

In a vote last week, residents voted in favor of eliminating private school choice for any future elementary school students.

However, superintendent Howard Tuttle, of local RSU 12, says the process isn't over. He says the change still needs to be approved by the regional school board and regional voters, "and then it would need to go to referendum for all voters in RSU 12," Tuttle says.

Tuttle says the region could take up a vote on school choice as soon as June.

Education reporting on Maine Public Radio is supported by a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.