January 22, 2020
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Maine town votes to limit K-8 school choice payments

Christine LaPado-Breglia | The Lincoln County News
Christine LaPado-Breglia | The Lincoln County News
Alna Second Selectman Melissa Spinney at a selectmen’s meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

Alna residents voted to amend the town’s school choice policy 258-161 in a referendum on Friday.

Voters also elected Melissa Spinney first selectman and Ralph Hilton to the Regional School Unit 12 board of directors, and approved changes to the town’s alcohol sales rules.

[School choice costs spark turmoil in small Maine town]

Resident Ralph Hilton submitted a petition for the school choice referendum, which modifies Alna policy to restrict the town’s commitment to pay for K-8 tuition, up to a certain amount, to public schools.

The town will continue to pay tuition for high school students attending either public or private schools. The change will take effect June 30.

Children who live in Alna as of June 30 will not be affected by the change, according to the referendum.

[Maine town muzzles public comment at meetings after school choice conflict]

The Alna vote is the first part of a three-step process. The RSU 12 board of directors will have to approve the change with a two-thirds majority of the board. Each town in the district will then have to vote to approve an amendment to the district’s reorganization plan.

Liquor sales

Former Second Selectman Jon Villeneuve and Alna General Store co-owner Ken Solorzano proposed the change to the town’s alcohol sales rules, which allow the state to issue licenses for the sale of liquor to be consumed on the premises of licensed establishments.

Due to the “very prescriptive” wording required by the state, residents had to vote on two articles, Villeneuve said during a public hearing March 12. The first article, which asked if Alna will authorize the state to issue licenses for the sale of liquor to be consumed on the premises of licensed establishments on days other than Sunday, passed 318-95.

The second question, which asked for the authorization to grant licenses for the sale and on-premises consumption of liquor at licensed establishments on Sundays, passed 280-135.

Spinney was elected first selectman with 258 votes to 149 for Shanon Cotta. Spinney replaces David Abbott, who, after being a selectman on and off for the past two decades, decided to retire from the position and did not seek re-election.

Hilton defeated Abigail Manahan for the RSU 12 board of directors seat 213-180.

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