Edgecomb over Wiscasset for RSU’s Alna, Westport Island pre-K students

Posted:  Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 7:30am

Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit 12 will seek a deal to  offer Alna and Westport Island families pre-kindergarten at Edgecomb Eddy School, Superintendent of Schools Howie Tuttle said April 19.

The district had talked with Wiscasset as well, but the SVRSU board on April 13 directed him to develop a one-year agreement with Edgecomb, Tuttle said. Talks with Wiscasset and Edgecomb date back months.

Tuttle discussed the board’s plans outside the April 19 Alna selectmen’s meeting where he had just presented the district’s $21.4 million, 2017-18 draft budget.

Ralph Hilton, one of Alna’s two representatives on the district board, brought up the district’s plans to work with Edgecomb for pre-K students from Alna and Westport Island to go there. “We’re close to an agreement on that,” he said. In an interview afterward, Tuttle said SVRSU board members’ discussion on it at their meeting in Chelsea was “intense.” It included some opposition to offering the two towns pre-K the district would have to fund, he said. The district’s other pre-K offerings have been grant-funded.

Asked why the board favored Edgecomb over Wiscasset, Tuttle said: “There wasn’t any one reason ... both were equal in quality.” The board could have chosen to seek agreements with both towns, Tuttle said. It did not, but every option considered this year could be considered again for 2018-19, he said.

Wiscasset Superintendent of Schools Heather Wilmot said April 20, she had not spoken yet with the school committee, but she expected there would be an opportunity for further conversations with the district on pre-K.

Asked for comment on the district’s decision for 2017-18, Wilmot wrote in a text reply: “Regardless of whether or not RSU 12 opted to enter into a contractual relationship with another organization does not change the quality of the pre-K program that Wiscasset provides our community. Next year, we will be beginning our third year of a top-notch, (Maine Department of Education-approved) program that will continue (to) serve our early learners and their families as well.”

Tuttle said he will work with the Edgecomb School Committee on a contract. Reached by email April 20, Edgecomb Eddy School Principal Lisa Clarke commented: “I’m thrilled to learn of this directive from RSU 12!”

The school doesn’t yet have pre-K but is planning a program for 2017-18, Clark wrote. “I believe we will be able to provide a comprehensive program in a warm, supportive environment, just as we do now for our kindergarten (through) sixth graders.”

Tuttle expects the district to send a total of about five pre-K students to Edgecomb Eddy from Alna and Westport Island.