November 27, 2020

Enrollment decline continues in SAD 25

SHERMAN STATION — The number of students enrolled in SAD 25 schools at the start of classes on Monday, Aug. 31, was down by 15 from the previous year.

Officials said the decrease marked the continuation of a trend that has been going on for several years, one that has prompted them to consider closing four elementary schools.

Superintendent of Schools Carroll Nightingale said it was likely that by next year the number of students in the district would drop below 700. He said it would be the first time in recent memory, if not in the history of the district, that enrollment had dropped that low.

In response to Nightingale’s prediction, district officials this summer began discussing plans to close elementary schools in Patten, Sherman and Stacyville.

In one plan under discussion, pupils from those schools would be housed at the existing junior high school in Stacyville, along with sixth-graders. Seventh-graders and eighth-graders would be moved to the high school, which also is in Stacyville.

At a recent school board meeting, state laws regarding the closing of schools, as well as a revised district consolidation schedule, were reviewed.

In a related matter, there was some discussion that the district already was over staffed.

During budget preparation earlier this year, district officials had anticipated that enrollment in fifth-grade classes in Sherman and Patten, and a second-grade class in Stacyville, would have exceeded the maximum of 25 pupils per teacher as established by district policy. As such, three additional teachers were hired.

Nightingale said that during the summer months enough students left those grades to bring the enrollment in each class to exactly 25.

A motion to invoke the reduction-in-force provision in the district contract with the local teachers association was defeated 5-3 by the board.

Had the provision been activated, as many as three teachers could have lost their jobs. Instead, those classes will remain split with 12 or 13 pupils in each class.

The board directed the superintendent to work with the district’s Policy Committee to develop a staffing policy before the 1993-94 budget is prepared.

The board accepted the resignation of Jill Harvey, a special education teacher. Harvey has accepted another job in Bangor.

Holly Prest of Monticello was hired to fill a one-year business education teacher vacancy at Katahdin High School. She holds a degree in business education from the University of Maine at Machias and was a student teacher in SAD 1 in Presque Isle.

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