MARLBOROUGH – Shrewsbury and other towns seeking to join the Assabet Valley Regional Technical/Vocational School District remain on the outside looking in.
During its meeting on March 7, the Assabet School Committee decided not to expand the region.
“We’re at capacity in this building,” said Lynn G. Ryan, the committee’s representative from Berlin. “This is not the time to do this.”
“Marlborough has 500 seats, and I don’t want to give up a one,” said Marlborough’s representative, Peggy Ayres.
“We have 1,200 seats [at the school], and we’re full,” added Maynard’s representative, Pam Reiniger.
Shrewsbury had hoped to at least discuss the issue with Assabet Valley, according to Shrewsbury School Committee Chair Lynsey Heffernan.
In 2021, Shrewsbury Superintendent Joseph Sawyer reported that Shrewsbury eighth-graders may not be able to attend Assabet following state policy changes regarding vocational school admissions. Though not a member of the district, numerous Shrewsbury students had been able to attend.
“We were disappointed to learn that a decision on this matter had already been reached without an opportunity to discuss the possible benefits to both parties,” Heffernan said.
She said while the School Committee will continue to look for ways to provide opportunities for Shrewsbury students, the committee “firmly believes” that interested students should have access to the programming that could only be provided by a vocational school.
“Right now, that opportunity has been effectively eliminated for our high school-aged students based on a change in Assabet Valley’s admission policy,” she said.
Sawyer said the changes left nonmember towns with little access to the programs.
“We had hoped that the Assabet School Committee would consider starting the process of potentially adding Shrewsbury as a member district. The reality is that there are not enough vocational technical high school seats to meet demand in many places across the state,” Sawyer said.
He echoed that the district will continue to seek solutions, “… but to create increased vocational technical high school access will require state-level action and investment.”
In a related matter, the committee discussed the revenue Assabet receives from accepting students from outside the district.
This revenue has helped pay for legal services, health insurance, electricity and the state’s retirement plan, according to Maria Silva, director of business operations.
However, with fewer students being accepted from outside the district, Silva expects the revenue to decrease over the next four years.
The committee could reconsider expansion at a future meeting.
Shrewsbury takes a step forward to join Assabet district
Shrewsbury schools talk next steps with limited space at Assabet
Shrewsbury eighth graders may no longer be admitted to Assabet Vocational High School, Superintendent says