letter to the editor

Upset at Alna selectmen

Posted:  Monday, February 19, 2018 - 4:00pm

Dear Editor:

My son is among the many children who live under the threat of being separated from their school, teacher, and classmates because of a groundless Alna initiative to eliminate school choice. Though current students are to be “grandfathered,” the legal consequences are uncertain; under state law, quite possibly, either a town has school choice, or it falls entirely under the supervision of the RSU. If this is the case, parents now sending their children to public school will lose the power to choose which public school their children attend.

This potential heartbreak looms for no good reason. Certain selectmen have alleged that students are fraudulently receiving school choice money from the Alna taxpayers, but not a single case of fraud has been demonstrated. They claim an increasing number of children in Alna drawn by school choice will cause an onerous tax burden, but 24 students will actually be graduating out of Alna schools over the next three years. Housing sales in Alna have not appreciably increased in the last 10 years, and given the limited number of houses which come up for sale in Alna each year, a significant net increase in the number of children is impossible. Though I can certainly understand people on a fixed income would fear a big tax increase, there isn’t any evidence that a real tax threat looms. The same selectmen who seem so concerned about the prospect of such an expense have also proposed a new town office that would cost the town a quarter of a million dollars.

The selectmen have sown resentment, and they may now reap a whirlwind. A death threat against children has been sent to the website supporting school choice, and various schools have added security, frightening the kids. The selectmen will not allow those who advocate school choice to speak at their meetings before the vote, and this can lead to highly-divisive future meetings. And given the lack of a clear legal foundation for barring Alna residents from school choice, if the measure passes, a messy and expensive court fight is bound to ensue. If Alna residents vote down this initiative, we can all live in peace and tax bills will continue to be largely what they were.

Erik Huber