School choice for Alna students

Posted:  Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 8:00am

Dear Editor:

My family has lived in Alna for 38 years. I have held most offices in Alna, from fire department president, to school board, to selectman, to our Maine state representative.

I was on the Alna school board almost 20 years ago when Wiscasset presented us with a school contract that mandated K-12 school choice. We discussed the issue at length, then voted for school choice unanimously.

I represented Alna in the Legislature when a Boothbay legislator tried to kill Alna school choice. The argument was high cost and a flood of students – even though (after 12 years) we had half as many students and lower education costs! Unsurprisingly, the Education Committee unanimously killed that bill.

Now the world of alternative facts, common on a state and federal level, have come to Alna. We must reject baseless fears, and base our decisions on actual facts: Most Alna kids still to go to public schools. Alna’s total population is going down, not up. School costs are a declining part of our Alna budget. Our school population is down - from 132 in 1997 to 115 today. By law, private schools can never charge Alna more than public schools. Alna has a smaller percentage of school kids than at least seven nearby towns.

Alna spends a smaller percent of our budget on education than the towns around us. No proof exists that Alna has more bogus residents than Maine towns that lack school choice.

Our last experience with the politics of fear and questionable claims was when someone proposed we save money by dissolving Alna. Our town meeting overwhelmingly rejected that proposal. This current anti-school choice scheme deserves that same fate.

I want to spend time with grandchildren, who walk to my house, rather than wasting time on this fatally flawed proposal to cut school choice. Don’t our children deserve an education that best suits their needs? Wouldn’t it be shameful to build a wall around Alna based only on fear to protect us from children?

Les Fossel