SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 21, 2013

Beverly welcomes choice students

Despite overcrowding, schools still have room in some grade levels

(Continued)

Decker said money is not the main reason the School Committee votes to accept school choice students. The total cost of educating a student is around $13,000, well over the $5,000 for school choice students.

“The revenue is nice ... but the main reason is to share the wonderful things we have going on in Beverly that makes us such a magnet,” she said.

Decker said the district is not accepting kindergarten students from other communities because there is no room at that level. The district also did not accept seventh-graders for this school year because that class is particularly large.

If a particular grade was in line to have smaller class sizes than recommended under guidelines set by the School Committee, administrators might add school choice students at that level, Decker said.

“If the class size was 19, we could add one or two to each of those sections,” she said. “A class size of 20 or 21 won’t negatively affect students, but at the same time, it brings in $5,000 for each student.

“We would never do anything to hurt the students in Beverly because they are our first priority,” she added.

While Beverly is taking in 66 students this school year, it is losing 72 students to other districts. Beverly is paying $384,520 in school choice tuition for those students.

Beverly has narrowed the gap between the number of school choice students it gains and loses. In 2009, it was losing 50 more students than it was taking in.

Officials attribute that trend to improvements in the Beverly schools, including construction of the new high school.

Beverly is planning to build a new middle school at the site of the Memorial Building on Cabot Street. Officials invited State Treasurer Steven Grossman to tour Briscoe Middle School last week to see firsthand the poor condition of the building and the overcrowding.

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