School Choice public hearing set for Wednesday

This Wednesday, the Newton School Committee will hold a public hearing about the state’s Inter-district School Choice program and whether Newton should join it.

“This is an important decision for the School Committee and for our community,” Mayor Ruthanne Fuller wrote in a Monday afternoon email to residents.

Wednesday’s public hearing will start at 5:30 p.m. and will be hybrid (in-person at the Education Center or on Zoom at,

School Choice allows families to enroll their kids in schools outside their community to fill empty seats and provide tuition (currently set at $5,000 with additional increments for students with special needs) to the districts receiving the students.

The $5,000 tuition is far below the more than the city’s $24,000 per-pupil figure, because per-pupil numbers factor in things already paid for without the student enrolling, such as computer infrastructure, school buses and staff.

Newton has never opted into School Choice. But recently, Superintendent Anna Nolin proposed having Newton consider joining it to help fund Newton Public Schools initiatives and offset rising costs.

But, Fuller’s email points out, joining would mean eliminating the policy of accepting children of staff into the district free of charge (included in their contract) and make staff members’ kids go through the School Choice program, which operates like a lottery if more students want in than there are seats available.

The School Committee is expected to vote on whether to enroll the district in School Choice on May 6. A few members of the committee have raised concerns about the program, hinting at a possible rift leading up to the vote.

Residents are invited to email their thoughts to the committee at