School Committee updated on school choice
Shrewsbury – The town can expect to receive close to $100,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE) as a result of its participation in the state’s school-choice program.
Superintendent Joseph Sawyer told Shrewsbury School Committee members Jan. 20 that the 20 “choice” students who came from other communities to enroll in the 9th grade at Shrewsbury High School resulted in approximately $5,000 per student for the district. The final figure was not quite $100,000 because three latecomers did not begin at the school until November 2010, resulting in a prorated fee.
The program has been a success for both Shrewsbury and the students involved, Sawyer told the committee. Student progress has been closely watched by guidance counselors, he said, adding that “they [the students] have acclimated to our high school exceptionally well.”
On the other side of the program, 16 Shrewsbury students left the district to attend schools in other communities through the choice program. Shrewsbury was assessed $99,582 by the DOE for those students due to a combination of a $5,000-per-student cost and additional special education fees incurred by some outgoing students. Sawyer explained the DOE assessment is money that comes “right off the top” and is diverted from the state aid for Shrewsbury. Meanwhile, the money received from accepting students from other districts is applied to the coming year’s budget. The program actually means a savings for Shrewsbury, he said, because the district anticipated an incoming freshmen class of 400.
“That $95,000 is going to save the taxpayers of Shrewsbury $95,000, because bringing these kids in didn’t cost us anything,” Sawyer said.
However, Sawyer explained that the school-choice program is still a pilot program and it is not certain if the district would participate again. A vote in coming months by the School Committee will determine if the school will allow another class of incoming and outgoing choice students to participate. In other business, School Committee Chair Sandra Fryc said she plans to run for re-election for a second term on the committee. Two seats on the committee are up for election in May. Earlier this year, Mark Murray, a 15- year- veteran School Committee member said he would not seek reelection, which leaves his seat open for a new candidate.
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