ELLSWORTH — Enrollment in the Ellsworth School District is up by 79 students this year, according to reports made to the School Board on Sept. 11.
Total enrollment for the district is at 1,374 students, compared to 1,295 in October last year, according to a report to the board from Superintendent Dan Higgins.
“Ellsworth is a destination for parents and students to come to,” Higgins said. He wondered how other factors in the city are affecting enrollment.
“How much of that,” said Higgins, “is accountable to the increase in housing?”
Higgins predicted that Ellsworth High School would have over 500 students in the next two years.
“I think that’s a good problem to have,” he said.
Most of the additional students (77 out of 79) enrolled at Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School, while grades 9 through 12 saw a total of two additional students enrolled (after accounting for decreases in some grade levels).
Dan Clifford, principal at Ellsworth High School, told board members that 133 freshmen had enrolled this year, putting the numbers for the high school at 483 students.
“That means recruiting went really well in the spring,” Clifford said.
There was a decrease in the number of students entering grade 10, but it was offset by increases at all other grade levels.
There are 475 students enrolled at the elementary school and 384 at the middle school, administrators said. The elementary and middle schools are housed in the same building.
Cathy Lewis, pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade principal at the elementary school, told the board that there are 42 new students who had not previously been registered with the department (not including those who enrolled in kindergarten).
Amy Boles, director of the Hancock County Technical Center, said she was a “little disappointed with our numbers after being so high last year,” adding “certain programs are certainly steady but some this year have a blip. That tends to happen.”
Around 200 students have enrolled in programs at the center, said Boles. Statewide enrollment in technical programs is “drastically up,” said Boles, and other directors of similar programs have told her not to worry, that enrollment in their programs was down last year while HCTC program enrollment was up.
“I’m pleased that we’re still at over 200,” Boles said.
The first week of school went well, administrators reported.
“They came with their smiles and we smiled back,” Lewis said.
Higgins also reminded drivers to stop for school buses now that school is in session, commending staff for “making the safety of students our top priority.”
The board approved recommendations by the Personnel Committee to hire five new teachers, including a speech-language pathologist, two math teachers and teachers in grades 3 and 4.
There are still several positions needing to be filled, said Higgins, including several educational technicians. Applications have come in for a kindergarten through grade 4 art teacher, said Higgins, and the committee has put an offer out to a candidate for a Section 504 case manager-coordinator position, who recently accepted the job.
At the end of the meeting, the board went into executive session to discuss the emergency management plan.
Higgins has previously told The Ellsworth American that there will be no policy changes this year. The department reviews plans each year, Higgins said.