Edgecomb Eddy enrollment continues to grow
Last spring, local school officials projected a record low enrollment. Edgecomb Eddy School projected 59 students for 2017-18. But a new pre-kindergarten program, an agreement with Alna and Westport Island, and unexpected arrivals have resulted in a record 89 students.
Principal Ira Michaud reported during the Feb. 5 Edgecomb School Committee meeting, two recent kindergarten students resulted in the largest student population in the school’s 16-year existence. School officials bucked the trend of decreasing enrollments with an innovative approach to attract more students.
The school filled all 15 slots in its first ever pre-kindergarten program, attracted a couple tuition students in other grades and welcomed others who moved to town this year. Michaud believes the larger enrollments should continue for at least a few more years. The school committee has a three-year commitment from Alna and Westport Island to send pre-kindergarten students. Michaud also reported, 10 of 15 pre-kindergarten students this year would likely attend kindergarten in Edgecomb next year.
The expanded enrollment is good news for school officials as they approach budget season. The committee will present its 2018-19 funding request on Thursday to the Edgecomb Budget Committee. Last year, the budget committee requested all municipal departments reduce appropriations by five percent. The school committee reduced its request, but not by five percent.
What the school committee did was put into action a plan under consideration for several years. The committee sought to increase school revenue by offering a pre-kindergarten program. At last May’s town meeting, voters approved the pre-kindergarten program with a 15-student cap.
“This shows the pre-K program was the right choice. It’s grown enrollment, and was clearly a strong choice,” said school committee Heather Sinclair.
Edgecomb’s three selectmen are also pleased with the school’s continued growth. “I spoke to (Selectman) Mike Smith and he told me the selectmen would leave us alone this year, said school committee Chairman Tom Abello. “There’s been a lot of change this year. New principal. New superintendent. And now a new pre-kindergarten program. Generally, the feeling is they are pleased with the school’s direction.”
The school board will meet with Edgecomb’s five-person budget committee at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8 in the municipal building.
In other action, the school’s first year pre-kindergarten class will receive a visit from the Maine Department of Education. Later this month, Early Childhood Development monitor Nicole Madore will visit the class.
“This is strictly an information-gathering visit,” Michaud said. “They want to take a snapshot of the program, and hopefully, this provides us with feedback for making some improvements since this is our first year.”
Abello also updated the committee about Alternative Structure Organization 98’s search for a new superintendent. The AOS held a community forum on Feb. 1 and discussed search criteria. The AOS is advertising for a new superintendent with the application deadline being March 2. Abello expects candidate interviews to occur in mid- to late March. The chairman is also hoping an Edgecomb parent volunteers to serve on the search committee. He encouraged the school committee to seek a volunteer.
The last agenda item was an executive session on a personel matter, according to interim AOS 98 Superintendent Bob Webster. The committee took no action afterward.