Region 9 enrollment issues aired

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DIXFIELD — Regional School Unit 10 Superintendent Craig King told directors recently that the new trimester system at Mountain Valley High School is not the reason for the seemingly low enrollment of its students at the Region 9 School of Applied Technology.

Other factors are involved, he said. Principal Matt Gilbert agreed.

“We’ve always had 10 to 15 percent of the students attend,” he said. “We’ve seen our student population drop at the high school.”

The high school has nearly 400 students. Of those, just under 40 are enrolled in one of the 10 vocational programs.

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The Region 9 board expressed concern at its last meeting that the trimester system was affecting vocational enrollment. Region 9 is on a two-semester system.

Nearly half of Region 9’s enrollment is comprised of students from Dirigo High School in Dixfield, although it, too, is on the trimester system. Those 76 vocational students are about 25 percent of the high school’s enrollment.

Dirigo Principal Michael Poulin said his school has considered Region 9 as part of the overall program for his students.

“Our students are quite self-directed. Some come here planning to go to Region 9,” he said.

The trimester system at Dirigo is set up so students can almost always attend vocational education as well as fulfill academic requirements, he said.

The remainder of the Region 9 enrollment is made up of students from Telstar Regional High School in Bethel.

“The credit issue will always be there, but Region 9 has done a lot with credits,” he said.

Part of that work is assigning a partial credit in some of the vocational courses for academic work, such as a half-credit for those studying to be certified nursing assistants.

“We’ve done everything we can to break down the credit barrier,” he said. “We try to recruit and make sure they are aware of what’s there.”

Gilbert suggested a survey be devised to learn why some Mountain Valley students aren’t attending Region 9.

“We need to talk with some of those juniors and seniors to learn why they aren’t in Region 9 rather than me guessing,” he said.

Region 9 Director Brenda Gammon said at her board meeting earlier in the month that she plans to meet with King and the two high school principals to begin working on schedules for school year 2015-16.

She said the high schools, as well as some of the elementary schools, often send students to Region 9 to see what is available.

Now, the total vocational enrollment is about 160.

Programs offered, with most providing some kind of certification upon completion, include building trades, early childhood, certified nursing assistants, automotive technology, commercial driver’s license, employability skills, fire science, forestry and metal fabrication.

Most vocational students from Buckfield Junior-Senior High School attend vocational classes at the Region 11 Oxford Hills Technical School at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris.

Buckfield high school is sending 30 students, or about 13 percent of its enrollment, there this year, Principal George Reuter said.

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