BAR HARBOR — Middle school consolidation and prekindergarten education across the Mount Desert Island Regional School System are among the ideas that Superintendent Marc Gousse is asking the school system board to consider.
Other recommendations are for a greater sharing of services and coordination of functions among the schools to improve efficiency.
Gousse presented his recommendations to the school board Monday night. He said several of them were based on what he has heard from parents and other community residents, as well as from teachers and administrators, as part of an ongoing long-range planning process.
To get public input, forums were held in all eight MDIRSS towns between last May and October, and people were invited to submit comments and suggestions online between May and November.
Gousse said a number of people expressed support for pre-K education.
“One of the most powerful testimonials I received was from educators at a number of schools who said they have kids coming to them with a lot of needs and that the playing field isn’t level,” he said.
Some sample comments from the public were included in his written report to the school board on his findings and recommendations.
“I would like to see all students from all of the schools within the system have abundant and equal opportunities,” one commenter wrote. “I feel it starts with all of the member schools having a pre-K program.”
The idea of having a single middle school for all students in grades six through eight has been discussed for a number of years. Former Superintendent Howard Colter was a strong proponent of middle school consolidation, and in 2014, he asked a group of 16 teachers, administrators and school board members to study the question. Their conclusion was that a single middle school would offer more academic and extracurricular options for students, better preparation for high school and more efficient use of teachers in areas such as art, music and languages.
Gousse said he has received a number of comments over the past several months from the public and from school personnel regarding middle school consolidation.
“People were all over the place on this,” he said. “Some folks thought it was really important to consider an islandwide middle school. Some thought we should have one on either side of the island. And some said we should maintain our present programming because it gives our kids the best experience.”
School system board Chairman Heather Jones said the board would consider Gousse’s recommendations over the coming months.