SALEM TOWNSHIP — School Administrative District 58’s declining enrollment and higher costs are forcing directors to develop a viable plan for the future, Superintendent Susan Pratt reiterated to directors Thursday night.

Pratt, who addressed the issue at a recent board meeting, said the decisions made will impact residents of Avon, Kingfield, Phillips and Strong.

“This is a critical discussion and decision for the board,” she said.

Pratt said student enrollment stands 631.

“That’s approximately 25 fewer students than last year,” she said. “If the trend continues, there will be 25 fewer students next year.”

Directors agreed taxpayers must participate in the process and scheduled a public forum from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, to share ideas gathered at four public forums last fall.

Pratt documented many of those suggestions, including closing an elementary school or Mt. Abram High School in Salem Township, consolidating grades, reducing administration and redoing bus routes.

Directors agreed that much misinformation is being circulated.

Phillips board member Jessica Cain said someone told her the board already decided to close Kingfield Elementary School.

Kingfield director Kim Jordan said she had to correct misinformation posted on the Kingfield Community Forum.

The issue comes as Pratt prepares to retire at the end of this school year.

On Thursday, she said directors they could learn more about the hiring process by meeting with a Maine School Management Association representative. The Augusta-based organization offers members full or partial search services, depending on the needs of the boards.

In other matters, Guidance Department director Ben Milster outlined the 2019-20 graduation requirements and curriculum changes for high school students. Freshmen and sophomores will be able to take honors level English classes; juniors and seniors will have advanced placement English classes; students who took Algebra I may choose to continue with the new Intermediate Algebra class; and a new natural resources class will be available to juniors and seniors.

Kingfield school Principal Johanna Prince said the Carrabassett Valley School Board presented her with a $6,000 grant to purchase iPads for classrooms. Carrabassett Valley pays tuition for its students to attend SAD 58 schools.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to note the SAD 58 school board workshop is scheduled for March 5.


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