Letter: Choice means Lenox runs a county school
In Friday's Eagle ("Lenox school leaders see costly outcome for all-county district"), Lenox School Committee Chairman Robert Vaughn reports that an all-county district would be very expensive for Lenox based on the fact that Lenox would lose choice funds.
While that may be true, certainly new cost-sharing models would come into play and Lenox would not have to pick up the cost for the 277 non-Lenox students we now have in our system. Mr. Vaughn goes on to say that right now in Lenox "... we're surviving because of school choice." However, if one looks at the numbers differently, it appears school choice is costing us dearly. In the same article it was reported that, of 770 students at Lenox this year, 493 are residents. At town meeting we approved more than $13 million in Lenox taxpayer monies to pay for our school in fiscal year 2018. That comes to $26,509 per Lenox resident student. The state reports Lenox per pupil cost at $17,527 (2015), which includes nonresident students and is a figure in line with many communities.
Clearly, Lenox taxpayers are heavily subsidizing choice students. Exactly how much is debatable. By one measure, taking the $17,527 figure and subtracting $5,500, which is the amount the state gives Lenox for each choice student, Lenox taxpayers spend $3.3 million to educate non-Lenox resident students.
Choice was good for Lenox when each choice student filled a seat that would otherwise go empty. But with 36 percent of students being nonresidents, we are now running a great school for the county, and Lenox taxpayers are footing the bill.
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