OP-ED: Framingham School Enrollment From Families in Apartments Continues To Rise

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By Adam Freudberg & Scott Wadland

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FRAMINGHAM – In April the Framingham Public Schools (FPS) was asked by City Councilors to complete a review of how many current students were living in a specific list of apartments.

This list was provided then: https://www.framingham.k12.ma.us/cms/lib/MA01907569/Centricity/Domain/81/2019-2020/09.02.20/V.%20%20FPS%20Current%20Enrollment%20in%20Apartments.pdf

Based on the advice of two former School Committee Members, that list was revised this week to look at additional addresses for apartments which are not part of the main street address. New students have also moved in since this analysis was completed in April.

Overall, the new students, as well as the expansion of the scope to include associated addresses resulted in 77 more students in the Bayberry Hill Apartments and Sovereign Apartments than when this analysis was last completed in April.

Instead of 175 students on this list from April, there are now 252 students. 

These new examples are just a start. Framingham Public Schools is ready and willing to update their search parameters with a list of all addresses in the city to get the complete picture, once they receive that list from a municipal department.

Fiscal Impacts: 

  • 252 Students x $19,544/year annual per student education cost according to ClearGov/DESE = $4,925,088
  • Students projected to live in 1400 new apartments permitted since 2016 not filled or built = 210
  • 210 Students x $19,544/year annual per student education cost = $4,104,240 new annual projection once 1400 apartments are fully available  
  • $4,925,088 Current Annual Costs + $4,104,240 Projected New Annual Costs = $9,029,328

What do we do with this information?

We strategically plan for the expected growth, as the enrollment surge continues. 

In 2007, FPS enrollment was 8038. In 2018 there were 8,739 students. This fall more than 9,300 are expected.

And by the end of the decade FPS is projected to have 9,700 students. 

This is not only enrollment growth, it is a surge. 

Clearly, single-family home turnover creates much larger impacts. It isn’t only about apartments. Yet they are a piece of the puzzle, as on average Framingham Public Schools reports 15 new students for every 100 units.

None of this is a surprise. It can be managed. And it was known years ago. 

Whatever the next steps are, all of this requires extremely close coordination between the school department and the City Planning and Community Development Division.

Framingham Public Schools has had a long-term desire to engage in a collaborative relationship that considers sensible long-term planning, community engagement, coordination, and commitment to accountability.

We believe it is important for Framingham Public Schools to be part of the city’s group of interdepartmental officials involved with new building projects and strategic planning.

Framingham Public Schools must have a seat at the table for regular communication as it relates to mitigating the impact of adding students to the school system, including but not limited to the maintenance of reasonable class sizes and appropriate staff to student ratios.

All proposed housing developments in the City and the potential impact on class size and other demands on the public schools must be looked at through these lenses.

Since Framingham Public Schools has not been part of city development reviews in a strategic and coordinated way, we are now asking the City Council to seek to require that this happen through the legislative process. This can be achieved either by editing a bylaw, or amending Order 2020-033-003 Section C, to add the word “schools” into the sentence with “traffic and transportation management, public safety, housing needs and associated impacts.” This should lead to full future coordination as upcoming studies are completed. 

Framingham Public Schools and other relevant city departments, most importantly the Planning and Community Development Division need to be required to closely coordinate when new housing and other projects in the city, especially those abutting school property and/or bus routes are proposed, and especially long before they appear on Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals agendas for project approvals. All municipal departments, including FPS, need to coordinate and hold discussions with project developers relative to student enrollment projections, financial impacts, incentives, and mitigations relating to schools. 

It is a bit mind boggling to us that this is not presently happening. It has occasionally happened over the years, but more often than not it has not happened, resulting in a number of missed opportunities. Therefore, let’s collaborate and work with all stakeholders to require it in the interest of coordinated, common sense strategic planning. 

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Scott Wadland, District 3 School Committee Member is Chair of the Committee’s Buildings & Grounds Subcommittee which is tasked with long-term enrollment and facilities planning. Adam Freudberg, District 4 School Committee Member is Chair of the School Committee. This submission is their own joint opinion and is not offered on behalf of the School Committee. 

editor

email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176

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