To the Editor:
I feel it’s necessary for the School Committee and the district to address an article contained in an Enough is Enough publication – The Hamilton-Wenham Free Press - as it is having an impact at the school level.
The article appears on page five and is about school choice. The District is very aware about the controversy that surrounds choice and the appetite from our community for more study of choice’s impact on our high school costs, scheduling and class sizes. The article is not about that; rather, it alleges impropriety with respect to our school choice selection process, which is inaccurate and misleading and must be corrected.
The Massachusetts school choice law (General Laws Chapter 76, Section 12B) was enacted in 1991 to allow parents to send their children to public schools in communities other than that in which they reside. School Committees choose whether or not to become school choice receiving districts. We post the application online - it contains only basic information (name, address, phone and current school). There is never any school information attached to the application. If a parent sends anything beyond the application, it is separated and shredded.
The applications are either dropped off or sent electronically, and when received are assigned a number in no particular order. The High School principal’s administrator dates the form and files it. The numbers are marked on slips of paper in preparation for the lottery when they are drawn from a hat by the high school principal. The school choice lottery is held in the lobby of the high school during the school day fully visible to anyone who wishes. Parents of accepted students are notified and invited to attend an information session and have the option to shadow for the day before making a final decision.
So what don’t we do:
• We do not make phone calls to recruit “desirable” students and we don’t have access to differentiating information in the first place.
• We don’t need to solicit applications because we always have plenty - this year we accepted 40 students but had over 100 applications.
• We have no urgent need to boost our test scores; we are ranked ninth in the state and are not recruiting students to change our averages.
It is my hope that the above provides the necessary facts around our school choice process. If anyone needs further information regarding this topic please contact John Hughes, principal at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School at email@example.com.
Chairwoman of the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School Commitee