Rochester looks for school funding fix

Feb 4, 2019

ROCHESTER — Rochester Board of Selectmen elected to look into rising tuition costs at Bristol County Agricultural High School, as they disproportionately affect Rochester.

The state mandates that towns pay to send students who are interested in specialized education to the schools they wish to attend. In Rochester, 10 students currently attend the school, with 12 students interested in attending the school next year. Five students from Marion and four from Mattapoisett currently attend the agricultural high school. 

Each student costs the town $25,000 in tuition costs, while sending student to Old Rochester Regional High School costs $15,344. 

At the Feb. 4 meeting, Chair of the Board of Selectmen Greenwood Hartley said he has been speaking to state Senator Michael Rodrigues about the rising costs after a visit that the senator made to Rochester.

Rodrigues requested that the Board put together a request to review specialty school tuition as it relates to out-of-county students. Hartley expressed his intent to do that at the meeting.

Selectman Bradford Morse said he appreciates the opportunities offered by Bristol County Agricultural High School. “It’s a great school,” he said. But, “We’ve raised this question countless times over the fifteen years that I have been here, and the tuition costs have been increasing from $12,000 to $25,000.”

Hartley agreed, but said that if the town wants to resolve anything it may have to take charge.

“We have more students than any of the surrounding towns. We may have to take the lead and make some sort of consortium to address the issue,” Hartley said.

The two also resolved to look into transportation to the high school, saying they believed the Rochester students share one car with Marion, but were not sure.