PORTLAND — A task force has recommended increasing enrollment at Casco Bay High School and expanding its footprint in the building it shares with Portland Arts and Technology High School.

The report calls for adding about 100 students to Casco Bay’s current enrollment of 275 within three years and expanding into space now occupied by the school district’s superintendent and other central office administrators.

The report comes during the high school’s sixth successful year and coincides with its second lottery to select the next freshman class from an overflow list of eighth-grade applicants.

“The report is dead on,” said Superintendent Jim Morse. “I don’t think we should have a waiting list for a successful program, and having the superintendent’s offices occupying classroom space has never made sense to me.”

The report will be discussed tonight during a school board workshop, after a 7:15 business meeting in Room 250 at Casco Bay High on Allen Avenue.

The eight-member task force included Casco Bay teachers, students and parents, working in consultation with the superintendent and other administrators.

Started in 2005, Casco Bay High follows an Expeditionary Learning model promoted by Outward Bound that includes an interdisciplinary, project-based curriculum and emphasizes real-world learning experiences.

The district also includes the traditional Portland and Deering high schools, which have about 950 to 1,000 students each.

Casco Bay High held its first lottery last year, to select students for this year’s freshman class, which has a waiting list of 30 students, said Principal Derek Pierce. Students were chosen randomly to reflect the district’s demographics for low-income, special education and multilingual students.

This year, Casco Bay High has received commitment letters from 127 eighth-graders who now attend King, Lincoln and Lyman Moore middle schools, Pierce said. That’s about 57 more than the school can accept for next year’s freshman class, so it will hold a lottery today and post the results on the school’s website, cbhs.portlandschools.org.

Portland’s eighth-graders choose which high school they want to attend. They must submit commitment letters in January so administrators can plan staffing and budgets.

Casco Bay High was intended to have as many as 400 students when it was proposed. The task force recommends 93 students per grade, meaning about 23 students per core class, for a total enrollment of 372 students. The school would have to add an estimated six teachers.

“A fundamental part of who we are is being small,” Pierce said. “It provides choice in the district, and it’s integral to our success.”

The task force considered moving Casco Bay High, but no location proved as economical as expanding where it is now. The report noted that the superintendent “has made clear that Central Office is currently occupying prime real estate for teaching and learning, and that he does not think that is appropriate.”

Morse said the search for a new place for the district’s central kitchen, which now is in the former Reed School, has been expanded to include space for the central office staff, multilingual administration and possibly adult education.

The district would borrow money through the city’s capital improvement program to buy and renovate space to combine central operations, he said.


Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: [email protected]