AUGUSTA — A bond from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to support the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone received a public hearing in the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee on Thursday. LD 2060, “An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Provide a New Dormitory Facility at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics” – would fund a new dormitory facility at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics.
“Aroostook County is home to an incredible natural landscape, hardworking and kind people, a rich agricultural economy, a deep sense of commitment to the community and each other. It’s also home to Maine School of Science and Mathematics, which provides unmatched educational experiences in a community like no other,” said President Jackson. “Part of what makes MSSM so special is its location. For more than 25 years, students from all over the County, state, country, and even world, come to rural Maine to attend MSSM. This bill is about continuing this successful legacy in the heart of Maine.”
Founded in 1995 by the Maine Legislature, the Maine School of Science and Mathematics is a public, residential magnet school that serves high school students from across the state and around the world. The school has earned an impressive reputation for providing students a first-class education in the heart of Aroostook County. In 2019, U.S. News named MSSM the best high school in Maine, the second-best high school in the entire country and the second-best magnet school in the country. Last week, the school earned recognition from Newsweek as one of the top 10 STEM high schools in the country.
“Any investment in this school is an investment in the state of Maine and not just the Maine School of Science and Mathematics,” said David Pearson, Executive Director of MSSM. “We’re producing a first-class quality product for the state of Maine … this is the return on investment for Maine families … Universities around the country recognize the value of the education we’re producing, and my hope is that those students come back and make an investment and a future here in Maine because their hearts are in Maine.”
The bond would help the school to expand enrollment, attract and retain high-quality staff and allow both the school and the state to continue this legacy. The current dormitory is a retrofitted elementary school and has remained relatively the same since the school opened in the late 90s. At this point, the facilities have fallen behind not just other independent schools but public schools in the state.
While the state covers tuition for Maine students, parents are responsible for room and board, which costs roughly $9,600. The price covers the basic costs of maintaining the facilities and feeding the students. One-third of the students receive financial aid to cover the cost of room and board. In his testimony, Pearson said that most students come from “working-class, solid Maine families, whose parents, and grandparents, and aunts and uncles have made financial sacrifices and commitments for them to come to the school.” The current cost of room and board is already a big ask for parents. This bond would help the school continue to supply quality education to Maine students regardless of economic status.
Rep. Nicole Grohoski, D-Ellsworth, and 2001 MSSM graduate testified in support of the legislation. She joined several other graduates and parents who submitted online testimony in favor of the proposal.
LD 2060 will face additional work sessions in Committee, before moving to the Senate and House for additional votes. If approved by the Legislature, the bond would go before Maine voters for approval.