To the editor:
Let’s talk about Minuteman enrollment.
Total enrollment at Minuteman today is at its second-lowest level in history, as reported by the Minuteman Superintendent on Monday night.
Member town enrollment in Minuteman has fallen from 1,214 in 1977 to 331 in 2015 (not including the six towns that are leaving the district). That is a 73 percent drop.
As a result, Minuteman has become dependent on students from non-member towns to bolster its budget. Nearly half of the students at Minuteman come from (current or soon-to-be) non-member towns.
There will be space for Belmont.
In addition, there are two more factors putting new downward pressure on Minuteman enrollment:
- Minuteman is already the most expensive vocational/technical school in Massachusetts. New capital fees from the debt would make it even more expensive, giving non-members a financial incentive to leave Minuteman.
- Changes in state regulations prevent many non-member freshmen from attending Minuteman. Fewer students are likely to transfer in their sophomore year, leaving their sports teams, friends, etc.
There has always been space at Minuteman for non-member towns like Watertown, Waltham and Cambridge. They are not worried that a new school will change that, and they continue to refuse to join.
Why are we worried?
This wouldn’t matter if non-member towns paid their fair share. But member towns pay much more than non-member towns. In 2017, Belmont will pay $30,602 per student, compared to $19,702 by non-member towns, and it will only get worse with the new, $144 million Minuteman debt.
Build it and they will come.
That’s what Minuteman would like us to believe, that 40-year enrollment trends will reverse themselves overnight. Minuteman’s financial projections are based on best-case scenarios that assume 40 percent enrollment growth from member towns in just three years.
They want us to be afraid that the new school will fill up.
To the contrary, based on both long-term and short-term trends, Minuteman will need many non-member students to fill the 300-plus extra seats in the new school. And we can feel confident that there will be space at Minuteman for Belmont students for the foreseeable future.
Please join us in voting “No” on the $144 million Minuteman debt.
Pat Brusch and Anne Marie Mahoney