The public schools enroll 184,000 students: 91% White, 3% African American, 2% Latino, and 2% Asian, with 44% living in poverty, and 3% learning English. The State spends $12,655 per pupil. (Most recent NCES data)
“A general diffusion of the advantages of education being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people; to promote this important object, the Legislature are authorized, and it shall be their duty to require, the several towns to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the support and maintenance of public schools.” Me. Const. art. 8, Pt. 1, § 1.
“Discrimination against persons prohibited. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of that person's civil rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof.” Me. Const. art. 1, § 6-A.
In 1995, in School Administrative District No. 1 v. Commissioner, the trial court applied the rational basis test and upheld the challenged funding reductions. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, concluding that the constitution does not require equal per-pupil funding. The Court left open the possibility that a constitutional violation might be found if future plaintiffs alleged that the funding system results in students receiving an inadequate education.