A surge in enrollment at a local elementary school and increasing demand for pre-k services in central Maine are pointing to what observers see as a positive trend: More families coming to the area are seeking out high-quality early education for their children.

But a number of challenges stand in the way of that growth, including accessibility and affordability of programming; the cost for program centers and schools providing the services; and a lack of available housing stock that would help attract more families with school-aged children.

Interest in the Waterville area has grown lately, which many attribute to the ongoing revitalization of the city’s downtown. Since 2015, several new restaurants have cropped up, a hotel is currently being built on Main Street and an arts and film center is on the horizon. A developer recently purchased the old Lockwood mills, with plans to create apartments. Maine Life Real Estate Co. listed the city as having Maine’s fastest-growing real estate market in 2017. The number of houses bought and sold in Waterville has more than doubled from 2008 to today.

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