The Star-Herald

Jackson’s bill would repeal budget provision that penalizes rural schools

AUGUSTA, Maine — Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash introduced legislation to repeal a provision of the budget that punishes school districts if they don’t regionalize administrative services. LD 1689, “An Act To Repeal Certain Provisions Regarding the System Administration Allocation Affecting Maine School Districts in the 2018-2019 Biennial Budget” seeks to remove this provision that adversely affects schools and students in rural Maine.

The bill received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs on Wednesday.

“This provision in the budget unfairly discriminates against schools in rural areas of the state where in some cases consolidation is not a smart or viable option,” said Sen. Jackson. “As the language is written now, school systems that do not consolidate will see funding cuts. It is not fair and not right to punish school districts for not consolidating when they don’t have the opportunity to do so even if it was what they wanted.”

During last year’s lengthy budget process, language was incorporated into the final document aimed at regionaling administrative services in school districts. The language forces school districts to consolidate administrative services or risk a reduction in funding. For Maine’s more rural school districts that cover larger distances, this is particularly challenging.

Sen. Jackson’s bill faces further action in the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs and votes in the House and Senate.

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