To the editor:
Alna is one of only two towns in Maine where children can attend private elementary schools and the taxpayers will pay the tuition. Alna citizens never chose this policy; it is a historic fluke that predates school consolidation. In recent years, as word of our unique subsidy has spread, many families have moved to Alna for the sole purpose of sending their children to private schools at the expense of the rest of us. Some people even fraudulently give an Alna address when they actually live in other towns. Landlords market Alna’s subsidy, like this internet ad: “available for school year rental, September to June. Alna is a school choice town. Children can go wherever they choose and the town will pay the tuition.”
Of the children who have moved to Alna in the last five years 91 percent attend private K-8 schools; we now have more children in private schools than public ones, more children per capita than any other town in RSU #12, and the highest taxes in Lincoln County.
In March, Alna citizens finally said enough is enough. With a record turnout, we voted by an almost 2-to-1 margin to petition the RSU school board to allow us to be free from forced payments to private K-8 schools for children who arrive in Alna after June 30. Even though the private school families now living in Alna are “grandfathered” and will not be harmed, this losing faction lobbied the RSU board to ignore our vote and force us to continue these subsidies for future arrivals. Your board representatives rejected this appeal and honored Alna’s wishes by a vote of 13-2. Now this same losing group will try to convince you – the voters of RSU #12 – to overturn the vote of their own town and force us to keep our doors open to a continuing migration by families who, like them, see Alna not as a community, but as a private school checkbook.
Please honor the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the average folks of Alna, young and old, parents and seniors, new arrivals and long-term residents alike and help us put an end to this by voting “YES” on the Alna Question on the RSU ballot on June 12.