Every year our school committees vote on whether to allow out-of-district students to attend our schools as part of the state’s school choice program. The K-8 School Committee has never voted to accept the option in the past, and this year was no different.
The school choice program enables a district to allow out-of-district students to attend their schools. Students are chosen by lottery and once accepted, are entitled to stay in the district throughout their schooling, regardless of whether the district decides not to take part in school choice in the future.
If it participated in the program, Southborough would receive a maximum of $5K per student in tuition, with more funding provided for those students requiring special education services. Superintendent Charles Gobron said the tuition payment doesn’t come close to covering the cost of educating a student in the K-8 district.
In recommending against adopting school choice, Gobron also said given current class sizes, the schools don’t have room for out-of-district students.
“We don’t have room without adding additional staff,” Gobron told the School Committee at a public hearing last week. “It would negate any financial gain.”
The School Committee agreed and voted unanimously not to take part in the program.
“If we’re considering closing a school, it would be almost irresponsible to bring in students through school choice,” School Committee member Kathleen Harragan Polutchko said, referencing the ongoing debate about whether to close one of Southborough’s four schools in response to declining enrollment.
The Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committee is expected to vote on whether to open up Algonquin for school choice at a meeting tomorrow night. While the K-8 School Committee has always opposed the option, the Regional School Committee has been more open to the idea, going so far as to form a study group to evaluate the pros and cons.
They’ll vote after a state-mandated public hearing on the topic at their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday. You can see their full agenda here.