BRUNSWICK — The high school has experienced “a slight dip” in graduation rates and a slight increase in dropout rates in recent years, according to Assistant Superintendent Pender Makin.
Makin made the announcement at the Dec. 13 School Board meeting, where Superintendent of Schools Paul Perzanoski also said discussions about administrative consolidation with other school districts are progressing.
Makin said the state Department of Education would be releasing specific statistics soon, but students who drop out in Brunswick still account for less than 2 percent of the high school population.
“We had almost impossibly high graduation rates and impossibly low dropout rates (before),” Makin said. “We’re still under 2 percent, which is still extraordinarily low.”
Perzanoski said the state’s definition of dropping out must also be taken into account, because some “dropouts” might ultimately have earned a high school diploma or the equivalent.
Perzanoski said only students who finish high school in four years are considered graduates by the government, which excludes those who take the equivalency test or receive credit for high school work in other ways.
“If they (complete high school) in 4 1/2 years they are considered a dropout, even though they graduated,” Perzanoski said. “It’s important to look at what the definition is.”
Makin said the School Department’s Drop Out Prevention Committee would be focusing on ways to reduce the number of students who do not graduate, by making the formal dropout process “a little more involved.”
For instance, she said questions such as “What would make you stay?” would be added to the required exit survey, to help students consider alternative options.
She added those who still choose to drop out will receive a “come-back card,” with contact information for a guidance counselor or other professional to help them return to school if they choose to do so.
Also Wednesday, Perzanoski said he reached out to several other school districts regarding the possibility of consolidating with Brunswick, following a Nov. 29 workshop on the topic.
The state is hoping to form between nine and 12 regional education service centers, which would provide uniform professional development, technical help and other administrative services to schools across Maine. The Education Department has offered financial incentives to districts that comply.
Perzanoski said he sent letters to West Bath, Lisbon, Chebeague Island, Wiscasset, School Administrative District 75 and and Regional School Unit 5, and so far has heard back from Lisbon, SAD 75 and RSU 5.
SAD 75 has seven schools in Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell and Topsham. RSU 5 operates seven schools in Brunswick, Freeport, Pownal and Durham. Lisbon, like Brunswick, is a stand-alone district.
“All three districts have expressed interest in sitting down and seeing what we can do together,” Perzanoski said. “Hopefully the rest will get back to us relatively soon.”
Brunswick High School