Only one slot opened for school choice in Middleboro

May 11, 2024

MIDDLEBORO — Only one slot, in kindergarten, will be available next year through school choice, Middleboro School Committee members agreed at their May 9 meeting.

The position was selected because the family of a current school choice student has expressed interest in enrolling the child in the Middleboro schools, Superintendent of Schools Carolyn Lyons said.

School choice is a statewide policy that allows families to enroll their children in school districts outside their community. Tuition is paid by the school district where the child lives. School districts can choose not to participate but must opt out on an annual basis.

Current siblings of school choice students are given preference when filling available slots. A school choice family of an incoming kindergartner has expressed definite interest, Lyons said.

But if the school choice sibling does not choose to attend, the slot will be available to all interested out-of-town students via a lottery.

She said that having a student attend all 13 years of schooling in Middleboro better allows the student time to acclimate to the district and for the district to also “build connections’’ with the family.

“Consistency over time translates to better school performance,’’ Lyons said.

Enrollment is on a “general upward trend,’’ Lyons said. More than 3,200 students currently attend the distinct, she said.

The high school is already at capacity, she noted, a fact that Committee Chair Allin Frawley said frustrates him.

He said the town “begged the state’’ to allow the town to build a school that would accommodate more students. Instead, he said, “this is what we got. That’s why we are at capacity on opening day.’’

The district receives $5,000 per school choice student. The money is provided by the community where the student lives.

“The financial gain is real,’’ Lyons said. There are currently 28 school choice students in the district, although six are graduating this year, she said. 

She noted that school choice revenue helped offset the current school budget.

But once students are accepted into school choice, they must remain in the district as long as they choose.

This will eventually add students to a high school already at capacity, Frawley said. He described the high school as a “good school’’ that would be attractive to out-of-town families.

But with space tight, he said, “we have to take care of our own first.’’