High school enrollment projected to remain stable

Enrollment at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) will likely remain stable through the 2014-15 school year, according to the most recent projections made by the New England School Development Council (NESDEC), a not-for-profit educational organization.

Superintendent of schools James Weiss presented NESDEC’s February 24 report at the MVRHS District school committee’s meeting Monday night.

“You might go up a few students or down a few students, but essentially we will remain in the high six hundreds for the next five years, and that’s the kind of trend I think we should look at for the high school,” Mr. Weiss said.

On another subject related to enrollment, Mr. Weiss said the school committee had been remiss in not voting annually on whether to participate in school choice, an option for every school district in the Commonwealth.

All of the Island elementary schools have offered school choice for many years, which allows students from any town to attend any school if space is available. The high school, however, has not participated because there is no other public high school on the Island, Mr. Weiss said.

Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School is not an option, since its enrollment is capped by the state and limited to 9 percent of net school spending.

It might be possible but unlikely and difficult for a student from the nearest Cape Cod towns to attend MVRHS, or vice versa, he added.

Mr. Weiss recommended that the school committee take a formal vote to not participate in school choice.

Committee member Roxanne Ackerman of Aquinnah said she did not understand why it would be a problem to offer that option even though it would not likely be used.

“If you decide you’re going to take school-choice youngsters, regardless of their socio-economic status, their language status, or their special ed status, it is opening the door to anyone who might want to come here, provided there is space available,” Mr. Weiss explained. “And what the school and principal have to do on an annual basis is recommend to you where there would be excess capacity available.”

Once that takes place, Mr. Weiss said any student that applies has the option to attend. “You can’t say, ‘No, I’m sorry, you can’t come here because you present us with some challenge,’” he pointed out. “If there’s a space, and someone applies, they have a right to come here.”

Six of the seven school committee members present, with the exception of Ms. Ackerman, voted not to participate in school choice.