7.26.2005

Waltham and the Mass DOE "school choice" program

Interesting stats from the Mass Department of Education Page. The "School Choice" program, which lets students go to school in a different school district, has been taking a handful of Waltham students each year to other school districts, at a cost to the city of about $5,000 per student. Last year just four students took advantage of the program, at a total cost of $20,000, compared to 66 students in 1996, which cost the city almost $400,000.

Where do they go? Unfortunately, the DOE website stats do not break out which districts are receiving Waltham students. However, if it's a neighboring school district, it's probably Belmont, which currently receives about 50 students from other districts.

Newton, Weston, Lincoln, and other neighboring districts have never received students under the program. School districts have to opt in, which these three districts declined to do ... maybe because so many Waltham parents would try to transfer their kids in?

Belmont, on the other hand, may have had different demographic pressures to contend with -- with housing prices squeezing out young families and school populations falling, they may have decided to let in a few dozen kids from neighboring towns. Under the program, districts cannot discriminate against kids from a certain town by denying entrance, but they can close the doors on the program entirely if they don't have space, which Belmont has done.

Learn more about the program on the DOE website.

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