April 25, 2018
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SAD 1 enrollment sees sharp decline

By Scott Mitchell Johnson The Star-Herald, Special to the BDN

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The region’s unstable economy is causing some parents to look for jobs elsewhere, and that trend is having an impact on SAD 1 enrollment.

“We’ve lost 107 students from this same time last year, which is about 5 percent,” Superintendent Gehrig Johnson told school board members at their Sept. 15 meeting. “That’s a larger percentage drop than we’ve seen in recent years. We’ve been averaging a decline of about 1.5 to 2 percent, or 20 to 35 students a year since the early 1980s.”

Overall, enrollment has been declining for several years.

In 1995, 2,291 students were enrolled in the district; 2,230 in 2000; and 2,093 in 2005.

As of Sept. 13, Johnson said there are 1,899 students attending SAD 1 schools.

“The decrease is spread out across virtually all grade levels,” he told directors. “With a few exceptions, the decrease is relatively consistent.”

Enrollment information shows that Mapleton Elementary School has seen a decrease of five students from a year ago, Pine Street Elementary School 41 students, Zippel Elementary School nine students, Presque Isle Middle School 15 students, and Presque Isle High School 38 students.

“Basically, this is a snapshot of the enrollment on Sept. 13,” the superintendent said, “but the numbers change every day.”

In the last year, SAD 1 has taken in more than 200 children, but “a larger number” of students have transferred out of the district, according to Johnson.

“The majority of them have left Aroostook but remain in the state,” he said. “The students and their families have relocated to southern Maine.”

The district has eliminated 29 positions in the past year in response to budget constraints as well as enrollment decline.

“We plan to follow enrollment trends closely as we move forward,” said Johnson.

The next SAD 1 board meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Mapleton Elementary School.

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