Westborough district opts out of School Choice program


Westborough district opts out of School Choice programBy Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer

WESTBOROUGH – Because of space limitations, the Westborough School Committee voted unanimously to opt out of the School Choice program for the 2021-2022 year.

The vote at the May 12 meeting came after Chair Kristen Vincent explained that each year, districts decide whether or not to participate in School Choice. 

In Massachusetts, Vincent said, the Interdistrict School Program allows a parent to enroll a student in a school district that is not the child’s home district. Some districts will allow students only into certain grades, while others, like Westborough, cite space shortages and opt out.

“Historically, the reason we haven’t accepted School Choice is because we have no room,” said School Committee Vice Chair Stephen Doret. 

Significantly, he said, the town is spending more than $50 million to construct Fales Elementary School to provide both an update of the facility and build additional classrooms.

Doret added that it would be “illogical,” to accept School Choice.

Assistant Superintendent Daniel Mayer noted that the incoming Kindergarten class is larger than last year’s class but of “average” size.

School Committee member Lisa Edinberg said that it is difficult to assess how much space there will be until the new Fales School is completed. But talks prior to this year indicated there would be no “excessive” space, she noted. “That might be a discussion in the future.”

Superintendent Amber Bock said it is important to remember that when you accept School Choice, the district is keeping the students “through the trajectory of their school career.”

She noted that some districts say, “Well, we have room in Kindergarten or [another grade], but it really doesn’t work that way.”

Bock continued, “In my seven years, (we) look at the fact we’re comfortable and we’re tight. We’re not in any place where we want to increase enrollment in this community.”

With class sizes of 25 or 28 students each, there really is no room to consider enrolling more kids, agreed School Committee member Radhu Nanan.

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