WILBRAHAM - The Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School Committee has voted to keep the same number of School Choice students in the district next year as this year.

School Choice students are out of district students who attend school in the district. The district advertises its openings and selects students by lottery.

School Superintendent M. Martin O’Shea said the regional school district currently has 119 School Choice students.

He told the School Committee that 15 of the students will graduate in June.

O’Shea recommended that the district accept an additional 15 students next year.

At a financial planning meeting for school officials and Finance Committee members and selectmen from the two towns O’Shea was asked whether the district would consider accepting more students since enrollment is declining.

O’Shea said he does not want to increase class size.

It costs about $12,000 per student to educate a student, and the state gives the district $5,000 for every Choice student it accepts.

O’Shea said students are accepted into classrooms with space so no additional teacher will have to be hired.

“If the lights are on, the desks are there and the teacher has been hired, there is no additional cost,” O’Shea said.

The superintendent will determine which classrooms have space, he said.

The district advertises its openings and selects students by lottery. Once a student is accepted, preference is given to younger siblings.

School Committee member Lisa Morace of Hampden asked whether a high percentage of the School Choice students who attend school in the district require special needs services.

Of the 119 students, 14 require special needs services, O’Shea said. He said the School Choice students who choose to attend school in the district are “a low needs population.”

 

Masslive.com