May 20, 2024

School choice point

The column “Good, bad news for state’s school choice tradition” (BDN, Nov. 24) about school choice in Maine had misstatements regarding the towns of Etna and Dixmont. These two towns make up SAD 38. I have been a school board member representing Dixmont for more than 20 years.

The column stated that because of consolidation Etna and Dixmont no longer have school choice. We have never had school choice. SAD 38 does have a process in place to petition the school board to allow a student to go to another secondary school. This is a process that does not exist, as far as I know, in any other Maine school district except SAD 23.

This process requires the student and their parents to provide evidence that the educational program they want to pursue is not provided by the school with which we have secondary tuition contract. This must be approved by the board.

This process will not be part of the new regional school unit that voters approved. In the consolidation plan that was approved, there is a clause that allows any student who has received a waiver to finish his or her secondary education at the school he or she is currently enrolled in. The voter-approved plan also allows for the siblings, within four grade levels, of any student who currently has a waiver to also have this opportunity. No one involved with the consolidation plan, except one member from Etna, voted against this part of the plan.

It’s too bad an issue this important to people on both sides cannot be discussed without misinformation.

Phil Dolan


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