Math re-do for Wiscasset’s future of the schools committee

Fri, 06/21/2024 - 8:45am

    Instead of potentially costing more, as earlier predicted if Wiscasset tuitioned out its high school grades, it might instead save money – depending on some other figures still to be factored in, meeting participants said June 17. The Wiscasset Future of the Schools Ad Hoc Committee regrouped on a number of fronts, including starting to fix errors in the committee’s first report, released last summer. 

    Sarah Whitfield, selectmen’s liaison to the committee, explained it “has since come to our attention,” the first report included in the calculation out of town students who attend Wiscasset Middle High School’s high school grades, and it should have only included Wiscasset ones, “which, as you might guess, changes the math quite a bit.”

    Resident Kim Dolce raised the concern publicly months ago that only the resident students should have been factored in. 

    Superintendent of Schools Kim Andersson said about the prior information the committee used: “The reason that it’s like that (in the first report) is because when we created the (first) report nobody worked in the central office and so we pulled our numbers from the (state funding formula) ED 279 which is public information (and) doesn’t have that breakdown.”

    Andersson said the high school grades have about 134 students, including 43 from other towns; so 91 students would be figured into tuition and transportation costs.

    That makes a “bottom line savings” of $329,945 by tuitioning out those grades, Whitfield said. Then Andersson said that figure is “really not accurate because (when) you take away the 43 (out of town) students, that means you also take away their revenue ... So it’s actually much more complicated ... You would need to show the revenue side.” 
     
    Andersson said due to all this, the numbers for both the one and two-school scenarios should be run again. “That’s the other thing I was going to bring up,” Whitfield said. “Because (in the first report) we really didn’t say anything other than one sentence about buildings. And I feel like we’ve at least got to put something in there about either scenario.”
     
    “Definitely,” Andersson said.
     
    The committee hopes to finish revising the first report by summer’s end. 
     
    The committee plans monthly meetings through next February, and updating the school committee and selectboard in September, December and February; plans also call for getting public feedback, and gathering facts to help address questions about consolidation, expansion and the status quo. Chair Duane Goud said questions to ask include “What are we offering,” “Why would somebody come here” and “Why are we looking to consolidate?”
     
    “And it’s hard to answer those questions if you don’t have the right facts before you,” Debra Pooler added. “So I think it’s good that we get those facts, because we don’t know, at this point, until we have the facts, where we are.”
     
    The committee meets next at 6 p.m. Monday, July 15 at the town office.