North votes to enter School Choice program

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By Max Bowen

Starting next school year, North Attleborough will accepting students from area communities.

At its meeting on Feb. 3, the School Committee voted to enter the School Choice program, with a limit of 10 students. This program allows parents to send their children to schools in communities other than the one they live in, according to the Mass DOE web site. Tuition is paid by the sending district to the receiving one. Districts may elect not to take part in School Choice students if no space is available.

Superintendent Scott Holcomb said that over the last 10 years, enrollment has dropped by approximately 500 students. He said the reasons include parents choosing schools such as Tri-County or homeschooling their children. This decrease also raises the question of why the district needs to increase or maintain staffing, which Holcomb said has been mirrored in other area schools.

This would allow us to decrease the drop-off,” he said.

A related issue brought up at the meeting is the new 192-unit development being built on East Street. It’s been estimated that this will only result in another 17 students in North Attleborough. However, Committee Chairman James McKenna said that the 77-unit Jewel Crossing development has added 44 students to the town’s schools.

Parents outside of North Attleborough would need to apply for their child to be considered for School Choice. The committee would vote annually on whether to remain with the program, though those already enrolled through it be able to remain in the district.

According to Holcomb, the town would received $5,000 annually for each student, and parents would be responsible for transportation. The Per Pupil Expenditure in North Attleborough is approximately $12,000, but this includes costs such as teacher salaries and utilities, which wouldn’t see an increase from only 10 more students.