School Comm. Votes No on School Choice Program

By Adam Swift

The Winthrop School Committee voted once again this year to not have the school district take part in the state’s School Choice program.

School Choice allows students to attend participating school districts outside of their own communities.

If the committee doesn’t vote annually on School Choice, the district would become a School Choice district, according to committee chair Jennifer Powell.

“Our recent approach has been out of concern for space at the schools, we have not approved this,” said Powell.

Superintendent of Schools Lisa Howard noted that while School Choice students would not be able to attend Winthrop schools from other districts, it would not impact students from Winthrop who might want to attend a School Choice district outside of the town.

“My concern with School Choice has been and will continue to be the space in our buildings and that the state reimbursement rate per student does not offset how much this district pays to educate each student,” said committee member Layne Petrie. “So there is a financial gap there, as well.”

In other business, the committee also heard from Gorman Fort Banks Principal Mark McAneny and Arthur T. Cummings School Principal Andrea O’Leary about their respective school improvement plans.

“This was an extraordinarily large amount of work for the staff to really be articulate and clear with the committee and with the community as well,” said Howard. “The new path we have taken and the new structure we have decided to utilize really speaks to us all rowing in the same direction, and I think that is huge and transparent.”

Howard also informed the school committee that the high school has formed a new girls’ flag football team.

“It is a pilot program and it is self funded,” said Howard. “Students are paying for their user fee, which is funding the program, and they will be playing in the Massachusetts league run by the New England Patriots.”

The team is being overseen by Winthrop High Life Skills teacher John Cross, and Howard said there is already a good amount of girls taking part in the program.

“It’s great to give another activity for the kids to get involved in,” said Howard.

School committee member Gus Martucci noted that the finance subcommittee is going over the final numbers for the proposed 2024-25 school year budget and should have the budget ready to present to the town council next week.

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