On December 14 at 7:00PM, the Lenox School Committee will hold an informational meeting about School Choice in the Lenox Public Schools.
School Choice is a Massachusetts program supported by state law that allows school districts to enroll students who live in other school districts. It was created in the early nineties to allow parents and students more options in K-12 public education.
School Committees must vote annually if they wish to participate in School Choice. Districts receiving Choice students must annually identify the number of school choice seats available and must create and maintain an application process that does not discriminate. Once a student is enrolled through School Choice, the receiving district is obligated to educate the student in the district’s schools through the remainder of their K-12 education. Sending districts (or municipalities) are obligated to pay a sum of $5000 per student to the receiving district to offset educational costs. School Choice has served thousands of students since its inception, but today there are both supporters and opponents of the program.
Supporters of School Choice maintain that it allows families more access to effective schools. School Choice receipts can be an important source of revenue for districts who seek to expand educational offerings and programs. Administrators can use Choice as a way to manage the enrollment, creating grade sizes and class sizes that they consider optimal. Additionally, School Choice students and families are often active contributors to their schools and school communities.
School Choice opponents may point out that the $5000 cost offset does not cover the per-pupil cost of educating a student, which in some districts can surpass $15,000. Considering this difference between per-pupil costs and per-pupil revenue, some see School Choice as subsidizing educational efforts of other towns or districts. And, as numbers of non-resident students increase, some citizens may develop concerns about the erosion of town or “local” identity.
The Informational Meeting of December 14th has been planned to educate the public on historical trends and current facts about School Choice in Lenox. The Committee also hopes to hear public opinions on this complex topic, which in recent years, has been the source of much discussion.
If you’d like to learn more about School Choice or how School Choice impacts the Lenox Schools, please plan on attending. TL