Proposed ocean magnet school files with Legislature

SEARSPORT — The Maine Ocean School recently came one step closer to existence when the trustees of the nascent magnet school filed a formal program plan with the Legislature’s Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs in February.

If the Legislature approves the plan, and supporters are able to raise sufficient funds, the Maine School of Science, Technology, Transportation and Engineering will admit its first students in the fall of 2018.

Coincidental with the filing, Ocean School Board Chairman Captain Eric Jergenson, an assistant professor of marine transportation at Maine Maritime Academy, announced that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service had granted tax-exempt status to the prospective school’s fundraising arm, the Maine Ocean School Foundation.

As a result, Jergenson told supporters in a recent letter, the foundation will be able “to accept tax-exempt contributions for specialized equipment and scholarships for our unique needs as a school.”

The proposal submitted to the Legislature, more than 150 pages in length, described the school’s mission and educational philosophy and laid out an extensive description of the proposed curriculum.

The organization described its mission as providing a “theme-based high school education focused on Maine’s maritime connection” emphasizing “leadership, work ethic and the transferable skills associated with careers involving the ocean.”

Plans call for the school, like Maine’s other magnate school — the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone — to operate as a boarding school because, the proposal to the Legislature said, a “residential school offers a tight-knit community, builds a culture similar to shipboard living” and can provide those educational advantages to a “a geographically diverse student population” from all of Maine.

As at the Limestone school, Maine students attending the Ocean School would pay no tuition, only room and board. The Board of Trustees is, however, “dedicated to making the cost of room and board affordable for all students,” according to the plan submitted to the Legislature.

Students from outside Maine would pay tuition, in addition to room and board costs, at a rate yet to be determined.

Initially, the plan is to admit students in grades 10 and 11. In the second year, the school would admit 12th-grade students with ninth grade classes a possibility in the future.

In the documents submitted to the Legislature, the school describes its “mission” as providing a “theme-based high school education focused on Maine’s maritime connection.”

Speaking late last year, Jergenson said, “Our real mission is getting kids to be able to stay in Maine after leaving high school.”

The trustees of the Maine Ocean School hope the Legislature will approve the new institution and allow it to pursue that goal.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]
Stephen Rappaport

Latest posts by Stephen Rappaport (see all)