BAR HARBOR — A planning consultant based in Yarmouth will be hired by the Mount Desert Island Regional School System to prepare enrollment projections for each of the system’s schools.
The school system board has authorized Superintendent Marc Gousse to contract with Bruce Mayberry, principal of BCM Planning, for the study.
Gousse said the projections will help the schools anticipate and plan for facility and operational needs.
“I suggest that we look at a 10-year history of enrollment, with projection going out 10 years, with the understanding that the projection for outlying years will be inherently less reliable than the near-term projections,” Mayberry said in a letter to Gousse that accompanied his proposal.
He said he would look at the historic relationship between the rate of housing development and school enrollment in each town. In addition, he said he would research other variables including “changes in the age of the population, shifts in the number of households by age and by owner vs. rental, average school-age population per household, housing growth and trends in the number of births over time.”
Gousse said the study would include towns outside the school district that send students to MDI High School, which are primarily Hancock and Lamoine. He said the study would be “absolutely comprehensive.”
“It will be a good blueprint for the next decade,” he said.
The study is to be completed this fall or early winter.
Kristi Losquadro, chairman of the Bar Harbor school committee, urged her fellow school system board members to vote for the enrollment study.
“This is immediately significant to Bar Harbor because we are looking at doing multi-million-dollar renovations at [Conners Emerson School], and these are the [enrollment] questions we are getting from town members and town councilors and the Warrant Committee,” she said.
“And we’re all going to be looking at renovations and possibly funding a combined middle school, so I think this is really vital.”
The board authorized spending up to $10,000 for the study. The cost will be shared by the district’s nine schools based on their current enrollment. The high school will pay the most, up to $2,875. Conners Emerson’s share will be a maximum of $2,188.
Gousse said he is hopeful that none of the schools will have to pay anything for the enrollment study.
“I learned within the last week that we are probably eligible to have PowerSchool, our student management system, paid for by the state for this coming year,” he said. “That’s about $13,000 that we’ve got in the budget. So, I believe we’re going to be able to fund [the enrollment study] through the PowerSchool savings.”
PowerSchool is a web-based system that provides students, parents and teachers with information on student attendance and grades.