How will we maintain our identities if we don’t have the Blue Devils and the Red Eddies?
There will certainly be two high schools as there are today. The Blue Devils and Red Eddies will continue as athletic rivals, just as Portland and Deering High Schools in the City of Portland.
How will special education change?
Accommodating students who have special needs is a mandate, and that will continue. We did note that special education consumes a major portion – roughly 25% -- of the school budgets, and 25% of that amount is spent on tuition paid to send special need students to out of districts schools. These costs can amount to $50,000 per year more than educating those same student within the school system.
The issues are very complex and not easily solved, but it seems that the scale of a larger system would allow bringing in-district some of the 130+ students who current go out of district.
Having more students educated within the system would be better for them and would result in significant savings.
Are business owners working together and communicating with the high schools so the right kind of training for local jobs gets developed? There has been some discussion of a new LRTC satellite center. Would there be more programs developed to serve both communities?
Our Commission did not have the expertise to dig into curricula. At noted above, that is best left to professional educators, of whom the two cities have in abundance. Looking at a very high level, we did discuss the importance of aligning education offerings with the job needs of the future. LRTC is very highly regarded, and we recognized importance and opportunity to expand its offerings to include more Auburn-side students.
What is the benefit to high school students, parents, and taxpayers?
A consolidated school system would be the largest in the state, even larger than the Portland system. Given that larger scale, it would be able to offer a greater variety of offerings and cater better to individual student needs. For example, one high school might specialize in STEM offerings and the other the Humanities, with students taking advantage of what interests them most. The aim would be to better prepare students for post high school education and the jobs of the future.
The Commission has identified nearly $500,000 of administrative savings from reducing duplicative costs. At the same time it has made no recommendations regarding facilities, teaching, and curricula. That is best left to the professionals.