School Committees Tie up Loose Ends

A string of short meetings of the various Tri-Town school committees on June 26 closed out several outstanding items of business for the end of the school year, and the end of the fiscal year as well.

Superintendent Doug White approached the Rochester School Committee members present to touch base on the residency policy for the Rochester School District, as some issues with potential new students moving into the district next school year have developed.

White said, similar to last year, “the same dilemma” is poised to take place, as some of the houses being constructed in town – with White specifically mentioning Connet Woods – have hit some snags in their development.

The policy allows students moving into the district to attend school within the Rochester School District within a period of 30 days from closing on the house.

“Residency has always been a tricky situation,” said White. “How do we want to address these students?” he asked the committee. He said he was looking for guidance and support because at least one family moving into the district will not officially reside in Rochester at the start of the school year as projected. Discussion headed toward sticking with the 30-day policy.

“But is it detrimental to the child to do that?” asked school committee member Meagan Bennett, for the sake of “playing devil’s advocate.”

“There is a long history of residency issues,” said member Robin Rounseville.

White said it was a case of “best interest versus stand your ground.” He added that one family will not see official residency until November, about three months into the school year and well beyond the 30-day residency policy.

“It’s really [aimed at] people who are thought to not live here, but their children are here in school,” said Vice Chairman Tina Rood. “There have been cases of students who do not live here.”

Looking to remain on “solid ground,” Rounseville said, “I think we need to hold fast to our policy.”

“I’d like to say that we could just let them all come, but…” said school committee member Jennifer Kulak trailing off.

In other news, the Old Rochester Regional Joint Committee approved the appointment of Michael Nelson as the new director of student services. Nelson will replace retiring director of student services, Theresa Hamm.

Nelson has been the out-of-district/district-wide education coordinator for Walpole Public Schools since 2011 and will start with the ORR School District in August.

The Rochester and Mattapoisett School Committees both approved a new district-wide copier lease that White says will save the district money and provide more efficiency by having the same provider for all six schools.

The committees also gave White the authorization to use leftover fiscal year 2014 school budget funds to pre-pay three months of special education private school tuition and program services for FY15.

By Jean Perry


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