Scott Lazo and this school committee just want to find someone they think they can control. How did that work out with Mr. Ely? And, this is at the root of the problem in Southbridge where petty politics rule the day…In a previous blog entry a respondent posted an open letter to Governor Baker concerning the state of the public schools in Southbridge. The respondent offered the Governor two well thought out plans of action:1. Direct the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to immediately place the Public Schools of Southbridge into receivership. (However, the DESE has proven that it does not have a solution to the educational problems of Southbridge or they would have done so by now.)2. Divide the Town of Southbridge into two parts with one part of the students to attend Dudley Charlton Schools and the other Tantasqua Regional / Union 61 School District. This would only apply to middle and high school students. Allow Southbridge to remain in control of the elementary schools in the district. (Understanding the concerns of the gaining districts concerning test scores whether they be PARKS or MCAS, the scores of the Southbridge students would belong to Southbridge. This would also be an excellent way to gauge the merits of this plan. After ten years, revisit the issue of this forced regionalization to ascertain whether Southbridge regain control of its middle and high school students.)I would like to offer a third possibility and, this would take legislative action:Since the state already offers a dual enrollment option to high school juniors and seniors on a limited basis, they should open this up to all juniors and seniors from underperforming districts and high schools. The students would have to qualify for attendance at Massachusetts community colleges and public universities using the same criteria as other students. (The prospective student would have to qualify for the lowest remedial math and English courses currently being taught at those institutions.) The tuition cost for this program would be paid by the underperforming district. This would cost less than the current expenditure per student that is already being paid by the district. The average cost of tuition and fees, to include health insurance is under $3000.00 (http://www.bhcc.mass.edu/tuition/) compared to the $ 13,000 being spent on each student in Southbridge. This would save approximately $10,000 per student that the district could use on the other students. Yes, there would be some transportation costs but in Southbridge’s case they would be minimal because of the Southbridge Campus of QCC.This option would be beneficial for the district, the community college and, especially the students since they would have the ability to earn college credits. Also, students could participate in all afterschool sports and programs in the district.The benefit of this option is that the students who are currently in Southbridge would not be forced to stay in a system that is chronically under performing and the district would save money that would go out in school choice to be used to help the district improve.
Sorry, one correction of the above: The $ 3000.00 is the cost for one semester. So the total cost would be about $6000.00 with a savings of about $ 7000.00 dollars per student.
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