RUMFORD – A drop in SAD 43 student enrollment of nearly 100 students prompted Superintendent Jim Hodgkin to tell the school board Monday night that the new numbers will have to be more thoroughly looked at when the budget development process begins.

He told the board that as of Oct. 1, the official date for reporting student enrollment, 1,411 youngsters attended the five schools of SAD 43.

That is down 83 students, from 1,494, since the end of the last school year.

“In December, we’ll have to take a look at projections and at staffing,” he said.

The district will begin developing a 2009-10 budget early in 2009.

Losing the most students was Mountain Valley High School, which dropped from 580 to 537. All classes lost students except grade 11, which gained 12.

Rumford Elementary School lost 32 pupils, with kindergarten losing the most, at 19, followed by grade 3, with a loss of 12. Grade 4 gained six pupils.

At Mountain Valley Middle School, the numbers declined from 301 to 276, with each of the three grades losing students. Grade 7 lost the most at 11.

Only Meroby Elementary School saw an overall increase. Its enrollment went from 326 to 343. Grade 3 lost the most, at 18, however, grades 1, 4 and 5 each gained students, along with kindergarten.

Student enrollment has been declining for several years, although last year’s senior class was one of the larger ones in recent history.

Those students who attend SAD 43 schools, however, receive much of their education thanks to technology.

The SAD 43 board heard an extensive report on the ways youngsters learn through laptops and so-called SMART Boards, which interact with computers, from the curriculum coordinator and the three media specialists, also known as librarians.

Among the uses is the offering of a virtual algebra class for middle school eighth-graders. Curriculum coordinator Gloria Jenkins said these students no longer have to be transported to the high school for algebra classes, but instead, can take the class through computers, and have access to a teacher through e-mail.

“This solves the transportation problem,” she said.

Children as young as those in grade 1 also can learn the alphabet and pronunciation through a laptop and SMART Board.

Out of the classroom, Jenkins said the district is about ready to enroll in a program known as Alert Now whereby parents and staff can be automatically notified via e-mail or telephone when a snow day is called, or any other emergency occurs.

Hodgkin said the new system should be in place by December.

Also on Monday, the board set a special meeting for 5:30 p.m., Nov. 5, to certify the consolidation vote that would administratively merge SAD 43, SAD 21 in Dixfield, SAD 39 in Buckfield, and the town of Hanover. If any of the school districts turn down the proposed merger, the special meeting will not be held, and the board will certify the vote at their next regular meeting on Nov. 17.

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