ORR welcomes 63 new 'choice' students

By Andrea Ray | May 17, 2017
Photo by: Georgia Sparling

Old Rochester Regional junior high and high school are preparing to welcome 63 additional school choice students in the fall, after a budgetary shortfall prompted officials to expand the program.

The district recently completed its first lottery for the 22 new slots at the junior high and the 41 additional slots at the high school. Currently, there are 111 slots filled in the two schools, with room for additional school choice students at the high school and in eighth grade. A total of 125 slots are available, though district officials say all of them may not be filled.

At the high school, new students are coming from New Bedford (10 students), Acushnet (9), Wareham (8), Fairhaven (5), Carver (1), and Dartmouth (1).

Information about the new junior high students' sending districts was not made available by school officials.

The Old Rochester Regional School Committee opted earlier this spring to increase the number of slots available for out-of-district students to attend ORR junior high and high schools, after a slimmed-down $18 million budget provided schools would have necessitated cuts of teaching positions in the areas of art, music, and technology.

Old Rochester receives $5,000 in tuition fees per year per student from the students' sending districts. If the district fills all 125 slots, it could bring in $625,000 in revenue.

Another lottery will be held before the new school year begins to fill more of the available slots at the high school. A date for the lottery has not yet been set.

During the previous school year, the total number of school choice slots available among both schools was only 68. This year, the high school alone is offering 28 slots at the ninth-grade level, five slots each in grades 10 and 11, and three slots in grade 12. Those numbers may vary a little over the summer though, according to High School Principal Mike Devoll, when he can clarify how many school choice students each grade level can support.

Though the district has upped its school choice revenue, it is also accommodating for a total of 43 eighth-grade students who have opted to attend public school elsewhere next year.

Thirty-one eighth-grade students will attend Old Colony Regional Vocational High School; seven are enrolled at Bristol Agricultural High School; four will attend Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School; one will attend Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational High School.

When a student attends a different public school, ORR must pay the $5,000 tuition fee to the receiving district.

“The number of students leaving never really varies very much,” Devoll noted. “That’s a very usual number considering that there are so many good options for schooling in the area.”

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