Education

Want school choice? Here’s where to live in Maine to get it

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Today, Maine Policy Institute released a new analysis on the scope of educational options available for Maine families based on residency. Accompanying the report is an interactive map visualization of localities across the state and the options available to resident students and their families. From the cities and towns to the plantations and townships, more than 900 localities were surveyed. Among these, Maine Policy was able to identify the choices for students in 575 of these jurisdictions.

Among the towns with reported data, 85% do not support alternative choices of students outside of their school administrative unit (SAU). In these instances, while students may transfer to another school district, the costs for transportation and tuition are to be borne by parents and guardians, instead of allowing that student’s share of public education funding to follow them to a different school of their choice.

Through a mechanism in Maine law known as “town-tuitioning,” 87 towns (15%) offer public funding to pay for their resident students’ education, either at a public or a “nonsectarian” private school, for some, if not all, grade levels. Town-tuitioning is available for residents of towns which do not operate their own schools nor contract with a school or district to serve their students. Otherwise, regional SAU organization agreements may provide for other levels of choice for resident students of towns which participate in them.

In just 70 towns in Maine are resident students offered public education funding for any school of their choice within the confines of the current interpretation of state law. Twenty of these provide full choice for all grade levels, 48 allow families open choice for high school students (grades 9-12), and two for students in grades 6 through 12. Seventeen towns offer a limited set of school choices for their resident students across certain grade levels.

Scan the map below, or search for your town in the search box, to see the extent of public funding for school choice available in your town:

Read the full policy analysis on mainepolicy.org.

About Nick Murray

Nick Murray, of Cornish, currently serves as Policy Analyst with Maine Policy Institute, writing, researching, and bringing Mainers together over the issues facing the state. Previously, he served as Outreach Coordinator, planning events to spread the word about Maine Policy's work to new audiences around Maine.

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