Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 Superintendent Keith Laser said April 14 this year’s enrollment increased about 4.5% – 10 students for Boothbay Region High School and 19 for Boothbay Region Elementary School. Laser said after years of growing concerns about decreasing enrollment, a change in the trend is encouraging. “Contrary to what was reported yesterday in the newspaper, our numbers are going up.”
Boothbay Harbor Selectman Denise Griffin shared data at the April 12 meeting showing the Community School District’s downward trend for enrollment over the past several years.
Laser also said the CSD will undergo a demographics analysis. The news comes as the building committee enters the next phase of the campus master plan and after months of concern from the public that talk about a new school should come after assessing future enrollment. While architects from Lavallee Brensinger and Laser discarded the idea during the CSD’s conceptual phase over population volatility due to the pandemic, Laser said state rules require a demographic study. Committee member Ruth Macy said committee bylaws require it when entering any phase of building a school.
“I don't know how accurate it's going to be,” Laser said. “I think you can look at the numbers for the next 10 years and see how the kids are going to progress through the system. From thereon out, though, I know there is a lot of discussion in your community about building new affordable housing for young families. That's going to change the numbers as we go through (this).”
The committee again tabled a vote on the 2021-2022 budget for three reasons, said Vice Chair Peggy Splaine: to see what will happen with state bill LD 552 which would change several special education laws; to see if federal regulations change or loosen on how Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds are to be spent; and to wait until contract negotiations close with Boothbay Region Education Association. “I was given some information at the National Schoolboard Conference this weekend that there will be in the next few weeks … some more clarity coming on how we can use the last grouping of ESSER funds.”
Maine School Management Association Executive Director Steve Bailey said he was not aware of any changes to spending, Laser said. After revisiting the first drafts of the budget to take anything out which could be covered, he said the original 5.7% increase was lowered to 1.4%. Splaine insisted on waiting since the committee does not risk any obstacles to putting the budget to a vote.
BRHS Principal Tricia Campbell, BRES Principal Shawna Kurr and BRES Assistant Principal Matthew Lindemann were all granted contracts through 2023 with salaries of $107,219, $102,588 and $77,250 respectively. Director of Safety and Security Kyle Canada received a $5,000 stipend for taking on duties as Director of Transportation. The committee also approved rules on administrators’ tuition reimbursement: a maximum of 18 university credits per year at a four-year maximum reimbursement of $36,000 for tuition only. Administrators who leave within two years of completing their course will have to reimburse the CSD 50% of its costs.
The committee approved Dean of Students Allan Crocker's and Campbell's request to hold the Grand March for graduation. The event will be carried out with the same rules dictating athletic competition, adherence to social distancing except during the march part, in which students will be allowed to be closer than six feet apart. Said Campbell, “They will still wear masks, the choreography of the event will be adjusted to avoid the large cluster that typically happens at the center stage, spectators will be in family pods and socially distanced from other families. It will not be open to the public.”
The Grand March will be broadcast by Boothbay Region TV and covered by the Boothbay Register.
Member John Bertolet said the superintendent search committee received 16 requests for an application and 11 were returned. He said the committee is setting up initial interviews and hopes to do some of them the week of April 19. "We are cautiously optimistic."