letter to the editor

Exorbitant costs in school proposal

Mon, 09/18/2023 - 2:45pm

Dear Editor:

In discussing the potential cost of a new high school, one fact has been largely ignored: There are simply not enough high school students in the Boothbay Region public school system to justify a new high school. Superintendent Kahler sent me an enrollment projection table that estimates 171 high school students (from all towns) for the just-started school year. At no time over the next 10 years does the projection exceed 200 students.

I call your attention to Maine’s Department of Education 2015 space allocation guidelines. On page 5, there is a table which recommends 185 square feet per high school student. With Boothbay having a much smaller projected enrollment, our square footage per student will be dramatically higher, as has been pointed out. We still need a full-sized gym, for example, even if there are relatively few students.

The interesting item on this table, though, is that the state contemplates high schools being built for a student population of between 300 and 1,000 students. Meanwhile, we are contemplating building a school for a much smaller student population.

This makes no sense. The square footage per student and the associated cost per student will be exorbitant.

This community (Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor) is already contributing over $24,000 per student, which is one-third higher than the state average of $18,000. Clearly, this community has already been very generous in funding the education of our students.

We need to look at other possibilities to building a new high school for such a small student population.

By the way, my wife was – and my son is – a music educator. And in Boothbay, I served on the Boothbay Region Student Aid Fund board for three years, including two as treasurer. I am not anti-children nor anti-school, just pro common sense.

Dan Zajdel