School Choice to continue, number of seats increased

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Woodcock Administration Building
The Fall Festival by North Attleboro Rotary Club

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

A pilot program for School Choice in North Attleborough will continue this school year and be expanded to additional grade levels.

Last February, the School Committee voted to adopt School Choice, a program through which parents can send their children to schools in communities other than the one they live in. 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. At the time the vote was taken, the number of students that could take part was limited to 10 in grade nine.

At the April 7 meeting, Assistant Superintendent Michelle McKeon said that only two students have taken part in the program, and that they had completed the ninth grade.

We’re recommending continuing this another year at the high school so we can continue the pilot, hopefully in a non-pandemic year,” said McKeon.

With the two ninth-graders now in grade 10, the proposal was to expand the program in that grade with eight open seats and another 10 in grade nine. Committee Chairman Ethan Hamilton suggested adding five open seats in grades 11 and 12 each, which was accepted into a motion that was later approved.

Superintendent Scott Holcomb said that a survey of the students showed that those going from grades eight to nine decreased by 100. Over the last 10 years, enrollment has dropped by approximately 500 students. The reasons include parents choosing schools such as Tri-County or homeschooling their children.

We haven’t seen a decreased number of staff,” said Holcomb. “There is space for those students if they so choose.”

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.

The town would received $5,000 annually from the state for each student in the program, and parents would be responsible for transportation. The Per Pupil Expenditure in North Attleborough is approximately $13,000, which includes teacher salaries and utilities, and this won’t see any increase due to the additional students.

The Fall Festival by North Attleboro Rotary Club