WATERVILLE — The enrollment at George J. Mitchell School has declined by 100 students since 2008, but the needs of students have increased significantly, Principal Kim Taylor told the Waterville Board of Education on Monday night.

The elementary school at 58 Drummond Ave. had 84 students with special needs in 2008. This year, it has 138, a number that represents 29% of the school’s enrollment, Taylor said.

Her report represented the launch of the budget process for Waterville Public Schools, a process that is beginning earlier this year than the usual start in February, according to Paula Pooler, the school district’s finance director.

Taylor said the number of English language learners at her school is also up from eight in 2008 to 18 this year.

“Many of them speak no English,” she said, adding that translators are needed.

The school also has a social-emotional learning program, begun with CARES Act money, that enrolls 33 students, according to Taylor. And 288 students, or 61% of the school’s enrollment, qualify for free or reduced lunch.


Taylor said officials believe that number is actually higher, but fewer families are filling out application forms because there is less pressure to do so because breakfast and lunch are free at the school.

The total proposed budget for George J. Mitchell School is $4.3 million, of which 89%, or $3.8 million, is for salaries and benefits. About 7%, or $317,108, is for maintenance, and 4%, or $180,361, is to cover supplies, such as paper.

Taylor said the school’s math program for students in kindergarten through third grade, which she described as old and outdated, is to be replaced with a new program, Reveal Math. It will will cost about $70,000, which is expected to cover everything needed for the program for six years, including professional development to help implement the program.

Taylor said the school researched the program and a couple of teachers are piloting the program now.

“We are very excited about this program,” she said.

Mike Crommett, the school district’s facilities and maintenance director, said the maintenance budget for George J. Mitchell School is up 5.18%. Security cameras are being purchased for the school at a cost of $55,466, he said.


“We have no cameras in that building,” Crommett said. “We have a lot of vandalism and a lot of stuff going on where cameras will help the police a lot.”

Superintendent Peter Hallen said the cameras are being purchased as the second phase of a project. Cameras for Albert S. Hall School, an elementary school at 27 Pleasant St., were included in this year’s budget, he said.

Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Allen reported that in 2008, there were 21 students enrolled in the school system as English language learners. Today, there are 62. Eleven languages are represented in the program, whose budget is $501,302, 95% of which is for salaries and benefits.

The Waterville Board of Education approved a $30.27 million school budget last year for the 2023-24 academic year. The budget represented a $1.8 million increase to the $28.4 million budget for 2022-23.

At the time, $1.6 million of the $1.8 million increase was reflected in salaries and benefits. Other increases were for motor fuel, fuel oil, electricity, liability insurance, renovations to the entrance at George J. Mitchell School, security cameras at Albert S. Hall School, special education placements and tuition reimbursements for teachers pursuing certifications or advanced degrees.

The only new position in the budget was for a teacher for English language learners, at a cost of about $125,000 for salary and benefits. The position was required by the state and necessary because of an increase in students coming into the school system from other countries, according to officials.

The state notified the school system that some 60 new students would be arriving in Waterville by the fall of 2023.

Of the $1.8 million increase, Waterville schools received $963,000 from the city to help cover the increase. The other $900,000 came from the state.

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