High school cuts urged

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JAY – Student numbers at the Jay High School do not support the faculty employed there, Superintendent Robert Wall told members of the school and budget committees Thursday night.

Wall projects that there will be 283 high school students, an increase of three students from the current student body, in the 2007-08 school year.

“Last semester, there were 47 classes with 10 or fewer students,” Wall said. “This semester the current schedule provides for 53 classes with 10 or fewer students.”

According to a University of Maine study, Wall said, the per-student cost of four years of high school for the Class of 2004 at Jay High School was $35,084. With 75 graduates the cost for the four years was about $2.6 million, $337,800 more than the state average, which was $30,580 per student for a total of nearly $2.3 million for 75 graduates, he said.

The cost for the same class per student and period of time at Mt. Blue High School was $26,645 and Livermore Falls was $33,064, according to the data Wall presented.

Administration has recommended several cuts at the high school next year, which would mean a change in scheduling to make the most of the remaining faculty, Wall said.

Those cuts include reducing automotive technology to a half-time teacher. Currently there are 42 students enrolled in the program with the average class size of seven students, Wall said.

It is also proposed that there only be one guidance counselor at the school, which eliminates an existing half-time position.

In 1999-00, there were 301 students at the high school and only one guidance counselor. There were two guidance counselors in 2002-03 when the school hit 325 students and it remained that way until this school year when one of the two counselors left for SAD 9 in Farmington.

Administration also recommends the consumer science position be reduced to half-time. It serves 61 students with an average of 10 students per class.

One of two business teaching positions would also be eliminated if the $9.96 million school system budget is approved as drafted.

Wall said the two teachers currently serve 112 students between them with an average class size of about nine.

It is also recommended that a special education teaching position and a bus driver custodian position, both vacant, not be filled. Other positions up for elimination are the school library assistant and the assistant principal-athletic director position. The athletic director services would continue but under a different structure.

It is projected that 840 students will be enrolled in Jay schools during the next school year of 2007-08, which is seven less than this year but 48 more than last school year.

The bulk of the latter is due to the addition of a new pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds that started this year.

Over a nine-year period from 1999-00 to 2007-08 projections, the school system is expected to have 171 fewer students.

The trend of fewer students is one that most of Maine schools are seeing and it is projected to continue downward.

Next year, Wall said, the numbers are expected to stay stable with 309 students projected at the elementary school – three less than now, and 249 are expected at the middle school, five less than this year.

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