Editor’s note: This is part of a series of stories looking at how the issue of school choice is complicating the push for districts to merge.
Tension over Act 46 boiled over in Strafford last week. The community — which operates an elementary school and pays tuition for students in the upper grades — has to pick its merger dance partners by the end of the month, and a step in any direction means losing something big, according to Strafford School Board Chair Erik Goodling.
Frustrated by the update they received at town meeting, residents reacted by unanimously supporting a resolution calling for the repeal of Act 46. When asked for objections to the resolution, Goodling said, there was complete silence and “it was really nice to hear.”
Strafford provides kindergarten through eighth grade at the Newton School, then pays tuition for high school students.
Goodling said Strafford designates the independent Thetford Academy as its public high school and allows parents the choice of any other approved independent or public school.
Keeping this flexibility is extremely important to his community, Goodling said, as is keeping all the grades currently taught at the Newton School.
“Some people are saying the most important thing is to maintain our K-8 school. Other people are saying the most important thing is to maintain choice,” he said.
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