BAR HARBOR — Enrollment at Mount Desert Island High School is slightly higher than last year, but the number of tuition students – those who live off MDI and whose communities pay for them to attend – is up 26 percent, from 102 to 129.
The high school receives $10,729 from off-island towns for each tuition student.
Fifty of this year’s tuition students live in Trenton, 33 in Lamoine, 25 in Hancock and 14 on Swans Island. The Cranberry Isles, Frenchboro, Blue Hill and Surry account for the other seven students.
Last year, there were 10 Hancock students at MDI High. Principal Matt Haney said the increase to 25 was due in part to the school’s outreach to that community.
“We’ve done a good job, especially our freshman counselor Mark Carignan, of getting out to Hancock and meeting with those students and their teachers and parents,” he told the high school board Monday night. “We’ve tried to make sure they’re welcome here.”
Haney said the increase in enrollment also is the result of the high school providing bus transportation for Hancock students starting last year.
“That is definitely more than paying for itself,” he said. “Fifteen extra students is about $150,000 extra dollars in revenue. It’s not about the money, but it definitely helps.”
The additional money wasn’t budgeted, so it can’t be spent this year. But it can be carried over to next year.
Haney said the school has typically budgeted for about 100 tuition students.
“This year we got brave and pushed it up to 107 or 108,” he said, adding that he will try to budget closer to this year’s higher number for next year.
He noted that the more tuition income the school receives, the less taxpayers in the four MDI towns have to contribute. The actual per-pupil cost is much higher than the tuition rate, which is capped by state law.
The overall start-of-school enrollment at MDI High this year is 530, an increase of seven over last year. Tuition students account for 23.4 percent of the total.