Presque Isle schools named efficient, high-achieving

Posted April 01, 2011, at 8:50 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – Three schools in Aroostook County’s SAD 1 have been identified among Maine’s high-performing, efficient schools, Superintendent Gehrig Johnson announced this week.

Presque Isle High School, Zippel Elementary School and Mapleton Elementary School were singled out for the accolade, which resulted from an independent study of schools across the state.

SAD 1 comprises the towns of Presque Isle, Castle Hill, Chapman, Mapleton and Westfield. The schools were the only educational facilities in The County to garner the recognition.

The high school was one of only nine out of 105 studied in the state to secure the designation, Johnson said. Hampden Academy was the only other school in eastern Maine deemed high-performing and efficient. The remaining seven are located in Kennebec and York counties.  Mapleton Elementary School and Zippel Elementary School were also among 54 elementary schools selected out of Maine’s 229 K-5 schools.

Johnson said district officials have been “beaming with pride” since hearing the news. He noted that the district’s other elementary school, Pine Street School, was not tested, but as a feeder school to Zippel, it shares Zippel’s distinction.

The Legislature asked the Maine Education Policy Research Institute more than two years ago  to develop a set of metrics to study school performance.

MEPRI spent two years studying standardized test scores, graduation rates, per-pupil expenditures and other demographic information for 427 schools.

Although the full report is not expected to be presented to the Legislature until later this year, schools that participated have been notified of the results.

Johnson said he and the school board are very happy with the designation. In tight financial times, he explained, it is important for taxpayers to know they are getting the “best bang for their buck.”

“We know we have good schools,” he said. “But it is rewarding to have that validated by this third-party independent study. I am especially proud that while our schools in MSAD 1 are among Maine’s higher performing schools academically, we have also been identified as efficient, meaning we run schools in a financially frugal manner.”

Lucy Richard, chairperson of the SAD 1 school board, noted that the district’s athletic, band and drama programs have earned significant recognition over the years, so she was happy to see academics getting time in the spotlight.

“I am pleased that our academic programs are also receiving high marks,” she said. “Our being named among the high-performing schools in the state is special — but also being named financially efficient is something we’re extremely proud of.”

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