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Proctor Junior-Senior high school debates future of school

Saturday, Dec. 17 was Proctor's first chance to learn more about the current state of education in town and help shape the investigation into the options for the future of the high school. Due to reduced numbers in enrollment and increasing school budgets, the town decided to hire Raymond, J. Proulx, Ed.D to investigate whether it was in the best interest of the community to continue to keep Proctor Junior-Senior high school open and what options they had either choice.

The number of students has declined in the last six years from a total of 348 in 2006 to 320 in 2011. 287 are projected for 2017. Conversely, the projected budget is higher despite the decreasing enrollment. The total budget in 2008 for 337 students was $4,900,307. The projected budget in 2012 for 315 students is $4,904,495 according to the paperwork handed out at the community forum. A decline of 22 students with an increased cost of $4,188.

Throughout the forum, Proulx took questions from the community. One was why the forum was not advertised more to the town so more people could weigh in on the options. Another common concern was how much investigative interviewing has Proulx done.

Proulx addressed the first concern by explaining that this forum was considered a focus form, whose purpose was to get a cross-section of the community. Therefore, he had sent letters out to a random sample of the population and a notice in the parent emails included information about the forum.

Next Proulx explained aspects of his investigation and the number of people he had interviewed. To date Proulx had interviewed a total of 78 people, 29 were staff at the school and 11 were students, leaving 38 members of the community. Many expressed they didn't feel enough community members were interviewed to get a good enough understanding about the different views about the high school. Proulx said he was open to doing more interviews before he gave his final recommendations.

After some debating, time came for Proulx to address the options the community currently has and encouraged feedback. Community members expressed the advantages and challenges of each. Please note: the advantages and challenges were giving by community members, not Proulx.

Option #1: Sustain Proctor Jr/Sr. high school as it.

Suggested advantages included:

•    Small class sizes means more personalized classes

•    All students can participate in extra curricular activities, there are no try outs so therefore everyone makes the team

•    The school is the center of the community

•    The music program is exceptional

•    Proctor funds help support the school

Suggested challenges included

•    Budget cuts cause the loss of certain programs such as home economics, shop and more

•    School need to communicate better with the community. Not many new families know much about the school or even what is inside the school. The community needs to be able to know what the high school offers and doesn't offer

•    Attracting tuition students. The school needs to recruit or find a niche to attract students from other communities

•    Is the town willing to pay higher taxes in order to maintain the quality of education they are demanding?

•    Need to attract more business to Proctor to help support the school.

•    Technology of the school is extremely outdated and would need upgrading if school stays open

Option #2: Tuition students grades 7-12 to a designated school. A designated school does not mean open choice. The town would decided on which area high school their children would attend.

Suggested Advantages:

•    That designated high school has to take you, you cannot be denied attending that school

•    Diversity of the student body. Proctor students will have opportunity to meet new friends
•    More programs offered that Proctor was unable to provide due to budget cuts

Suggested Challenges:

•    No official say on the school board (no votes)

•    Travel time to and from the school and transportation options. Will the designated high school provide transportation or will Proctor be responsible

•    Loss of community feel

•    Loss of control - the designated school can set the tuition to whatever they want

•    No school choice

•    What will the old high school building be used for
•    The effect on property values if there is no high school 

Option #3: Secondary School Choice for grades 7-12 or grades 9-12

Suggested Advantages:

•    Parents and students can select a high school that best suits their needs. If the student is gifted in drama or music maybe a particular high school has excellent programs in those areas. They can choose small, medium or large student bodies
•    The building of the high school could then be used for K-8 and the other school could be used for business space to bring in more companies to the town
Suggested Challenges:

•    Transportation would be a parental issue. No buses
•    The fracture of the current Proctor student body. Since each student has choice the kids could end up scattered throughout the area

Option #4: Partner with another area school(s) for delivery of Education Services

Proctor could partner with another school to keep many of the programs in jeopardy, keep jobs for the teachers, more sports and academics could be offered and there would be a sense of stability to the student body. Students won't constantly be wondering where they might be going to school next year.

Option #5: Consolidation of School Districts

Option #6: Other options….one suggested was that Proctor itself become a designated school for other communities.

Raymond Proulx is continuing his study and investigation into all these options and there will be another forum open to the public soon where anyone can express their opinions. When the time comes Proulx will help narrow down the options by giving the advantages and challenges of each.

Tagged: proctor high school, PHS, Proctor Place