In 1994, in response to state funding cuts in the early
1990s, plaintiff school districts and students filed
School Administrative District No. 1 v. Commissioner,
659 A.2d 854, challenging the cuts on equal protection
grounds under Maine's state constitution. However, the
relatively weak language of the education section of
Maine's constitution requires "the several towns,"
rather than the state, "to make suitable provision,
at their own expense, for the support and maintenance
of public schools."
In its 1995 decision in favor of defendant, the Maine
Supreme Court noted that plaintiffs had not alleged
or presented evidence "that any disparities in
funding, resulted in their students receiving an inadequate
education," indicating that the court might be
more receptive to an "adequacy" claim than
it was to an "equity" claim.
In June 2007, Maine enacted a law designed to reduce
the number of school districts in the state from 290
to about 80. Governor John Baldacci’s proposal
had called for a reduction to 26 districts. According
to state officials, consolidation would save $36.5 million
in 2008-09, which amounts to less than one percent of
state spending. The consolidated districts are to be
operational by July 1, 2009 and, with some exceptions,
are required to have at least 2,500 students. Districts
choosing not to participate will have state funding
In January 2008, opponents of the school district consolidation
law failed to obtain enough signatures to put a measure
to overturn the law to a referendum in November, according
to the Portland Press Herald.
Last updated: February, 2008