Enrollment in Portland’s public schools will dip slightly over the next six years but won’t face any major changes, according to the latest demographic projections presented Monday evening.

“That’s the last piece of the data puzzle,” Superintendent Xavier Botana told a committee charged with analyzing the district’s use of building space and enrollment projections. The committee is looking for cost-saving opportunities for the district.

Portland’s current enrollment of 6,821 will decline 1.2 percent to an estimated 6,724 students in 2025, according to the report from Davis Demographics presented to the committee.

That does not include the district’s planned expansion of pre-kindergarten, approved in concept by the Board of Education, that could add another 140 pre-K slots by 2025, which would bring total enrollment up to 6,914 students – a 1.4 percent increase over the current enrollment.

Portland is bucking the state’s demographic tide: Overall, the state of Maine is aging and has declining numbers of young people, driving down enrollment from kindergarten through higher education. But Portland’s K-12 demographics have fluctuated as the economy shifted and immigrants arrived.

According to the state, Portland had 6,768 students on Oct. 1, down 2 percent over 10 years from the 6,916 student enrollment in 2008-09. Statewide student enrollment over the same period is down 5 percent.

The committee has not come to any recommendations, but has asked the district and consultants to provide more information on certain scenarios.

One scenario recommended for more analysis would create a single K-12 expeditionary learning school. Currently there are 1,130 students in Presumpscot Elementary, King Middle School and Casco Bay High School, all of which use expeditionary learning model. There would be one high school for grades 10-12, the two remaining middle schools would serve grades 6-9, and the vacated middle school would become the space for administrative offices. Adult education woule be moved to what is now Casco Bay High School. The net change is that one elementary school would close, the administration offices would move, and adult ed would move from leased space.

In another scenario, one existing high school building would serve all students in grades10-12 and one existing high school building would serve students in grades 7-9. Middle schools would be reduced from three to two buildings and the middle schools would serve grades 5-6. The remaining middle school would become administrative offices, and all elementary schools would serve pre-kindergarten to grade four.

The committee also wants to:

* Analyze the impact of the planned the pre-K expansion and moving Bayside Learning Program students, currently housed in a building downtown, into elementary schools.

* Consider redistricting middle schools to redistribute or even out populations.

* Consider locating the adult education program into a high school.

 


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