WILMINGTON — On March 27, the Wilmington School Committee voted unanimously not to participate in the statewide school choice program for the coming school year, citing concerns about adequate space and resources.
“As I’ve come to learn, we don’t have a lot of space. Really, we don’t,” said Superintendent Glenn Brand, who made the recommendation.
Brand noted, however, that there is a 68 percent retention rate between grades eight and nine in the district. He noted that, if this number remains low, there could be spots in the high school for external students in future years.
Committee Vice Chair Jennifer Bryson agreed with the recommendation for this year, with the stipulation that the discussion remain open in future years regarding spaces in the high school.
“Moving forward, I think if we were to see the same retention and for us not to open our doors to others… I think that’s something we should definitely talk about as a committee,” said Bryson.
Committee member David Ragsdale added that, were Wilmington to begin accepting external students, the sending district would pay “tuition” to the receiving district. He also added that the process is “…generally done when it’s in the financial interest of the receiving district.”
Ragsdale also noted that, as the district is discussing reconfiguration and consolidation of school buildings in the coming years, it could be hard to predict space constraints years into the future.
Concerns about day-to-day student life and quality of instruction seemed to be the overarching theme of the day, though.
“I’m open to that school choice possibility, but I also want to be careful that our classroom sizes don’t get too large,” said committee member MJ Byrnes.