Testimony opposing LD1854 - "open enrollment" and private school tuition subsidy

March 15, 2012

Senator Langley, Representative Richardson, Distinguished Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs,

My name is Brian Hubbell and I'm a school board member from Bar Harbor. I'm testifying in opposition to LD 1854: An Act To Expand Educational Opportunities for Maine Students on behalf of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System which comprises nine schools from the eight municipalities of Bar Harbor, Cranberry Isles, Frenchboro, Mount Desert, Southwest Harbor, Swan's Island, Tremont, and Trenton.

At our regional meeting on Monday evening, our board voted unanimously to oppose this bill.

In testimony regarding other legislation, we have consistently opposed efforts that drain or dilute public commitment to an efficient, comprehensive system of public education. We see this bill as an escalation of that unwelcome trend, most likely to cause harm to those schools and communities in the greatest need of support..

However, our local concern about this bill comes into sharp focus on the provision that would require local taxpayers to subsidize private school tuition at the whims of individuals.

For the state to mandate, without limitation by any sort of local approval, that property tax dollars be diverted toward such a policy is an unwarranted overreach in communities that already commit -- and understand themselves as morally obligated to continue to commit -- significant resources to support good opportunities to all comers within an existing network of public schools.