School committees reject school choice again

Both the K-8 and Regional School Committees voted unanimously this month to reject school choice for the upcoming school year, citing concerns about class size, administrative capacity, and cost.

The school choice program enables districts to allow out-of-district students to attend their schools in exchange for up to $5K in tuition per student. According to Superintendent Charles Gobron, the cost per student is well above $5K.

School committees across the state are required to vote each year on whether to adopt school choice. The Northborough-Southborough district has never voted to do so. This year’s school choice votes took place at the Southborough K-8 School Committee meeting on May 8, and the Regional School Committee meeting on May 15.

For the K-8 School Committee, a sticking point in considering school choice was the future commitment. According to Gobron, the town would be required to continue educating any accepted students through at least 8th grade, and possibly through 12th grade.

For Algonquin, class size and administrative capacity were main factors in rejecting school choice. Reports the Metrowest Daily News:

Superintendent Charles Gobron Wednesday again recommended against school choice, citing rising enrollment and keen competition for students trying to get into high-level classes. He also said the school – which has put off hiring additional administrators for years – doesn’t have enough administrative support to handle the additional workload.

The Metrowest Daily News also reported that the only member of the Regional School Committee who advocated school choice last year, Paul Butka of Southborough, was absent at the Wednesday night vote.

At both committee meetings, member Kathleen Harragan Polutchko acknowledged shrinking class size means school choice will need to be considered in the future. “It makes sense is if you have extra capacity, which we are going to be grappling with if the enrollment number projections are correct…but I’m still not convinced that those numbers aren’t going to rebound,” she said. “Maybe [school choice] gets us over a hump and then when the numbers rebound we can get through not having to close a school.”

You can read more about the discussion over school choice at Algonquin in this article by the Metrowest Daily News.

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Neil Rossen
10 years ago

One thing is for sure: Unions are dead set against school choice. Always. Wonder why? The committee always goes with the unions. I’d just like more discussion with knowledgeable outsiders who are not insiders.

10 years ago
Reply to  Neil Rossen

Not sure there’s anything suspicious going on as you seem to be implying… Perhaps you disagree with unions for other reasons, but in this case, I don’t see any logical reason to link pressure from teachers unions to this decision. Student choice would get us more students, and reimburse us at a rate of $5k each. Southborough pays more than $5k per year per student. Seems pretty logical for to turn it down to me.

Neil Rossen
10 years ago
Reply to  Southville

Why is it $5K per student? If we add 1 student does it cost the school another $5K? In other words, what is the marginal cost of adding one student, and what is the breakdown of that cost. It is not a simple 10 students now cost $50K so that 1 added student costs another $5K although the unions would like you to believe that. Where are the calculations?

mike fuce
10 years ago

Thank you school administration and boards for making the right decision on this one. We the citizens, already pay way too much tax to the town, state and federal governments. Being compensated $5k per out of town student coming to Southboro is roughly one-fifth the cost to educate a child in our already overburdeoned school system in Southborough. Our cost per child is $14,123 in Southboro. And as others have posted in the past, similar school systems average $12,500 per student. Why would we then pick up yet another tax to educate a child from another town? Good decision on this one.

Jessica Devine
10 years ago

Great piece, Beth! :-)

Tom Marcoulier
10 years ago

Has there been any discussion on the number of children living in the homes owned by St Marks and/or Fay that enjoys a Southboro education. I am always curious why they don’t go to those schools.

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