BURLINGTON - For the twelfth year in a row, the School Committee unanimously approved School Choice spots at Burlington High School (BHS) for the 2021-22 year.
At a recent meeting, the members were informed there will be a possibility of 25 School Choice students coming into the district from other communities with ten allocated for grade 9 and five each in grades 10-12. The committee formally discussed the 25 School Choice spots as a second reading and public hearing, which is standard for this process. This public hearing and approval process is annual requirement of any district participating in School Choice.
The Massachusetts School Choice Law (General Laws Chapter 76, Section 12B) enables parents to send their children to public schools in communities other than that in which they reside.
School Supt. Dr. Eric Conti affirmed that Burlington High School Principal Mark Sullivan requested the same parameters are followed as has been the case the past 12 years, which equates to the 25 students that may be added if all the spots are filled. The formal designation for this School Choice option is “limited.”
Dr. Conti expounded on the now-common program in the district.
“[School Choice] gives us more flexibility for families who tend to be much more mobile and it allows us to have more options for our faculty members who are also entitled by contract to have their kids attend Burlington schools,” stated Dr. Conti.
It has been revealed that School Choice students provide another source of revenue for the school and town. According to the statue, the School Choice program generates $5,500 per student from the state; funds the school can use in many ways. Principal Sullivan has been able to utilize the School Choice funds for such recent renovations to areas of BHS, such as the lower library.
Dr. Conti spoke about the opportunities these types of programs offer students from surrounding towns.
“It provides great opportunities for students who are aren’t happy with their hometown’s school district,” he suggested, noting the town has the resources to accommodate School Choice. “We have room in the school buildings and the curriculum to do [School Choice].”
Principal Sullivan mentioned how satisfied students and families are with their decision to leave their communities and attend his school.
"To be honest, people from other towns have been very pleased with the Burlington Public Schools, so I think it's a sign of the positive things we are doing," said Sullivan. "And the fact that people want to leave their communities to come to our schools is a positive sign for us as well. It is a beneficial program. We have been able to help out a lot of Burlington students with School Choice.”
The program’s most recent enrollment, in the 2020-21 school year, tallied five in grade 9, five in grade 10, six in grade 11, and eight in grade 12, proving that the program doesn’t always reach the 25 allocated School Choice spots each year in a set way, if the total figure is even reached at all.