Exclusive: Bourne superintendent denies technical school access blocked

Superintendent Steven Lamarche cites important details omitted from old media story
We offered each district’s superintendent an opportunity to be heard on this topic.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A recent story in a local newspaper criticized many Cape school districts for denying access to eighth graders by the two vocational-technical high schools’ counselors.

In the interest of fairness, Cape Cod Today has contacted the districts that were singled out for blocking access to our two vocation-technical schools’ counselors and recruiters.

We offered each district’s superintendent an opportunity to be heard on this topic, either in the form of a virtual interview or a statement to be printed verbatim.

The third superintendent to respond is Steven Lamarche of the Bourne Public Schools. We approached Mr. Lamarche on Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend and he kindly responded within 24 hours. His statement is reproduced below exactly as he submitted it to us. You may make a comment on this topic below.

Statement from Bourne Superintendent Steven Lamarche

I want to thank Walter Brooks for his November 30th invitation to freely contribute to the recent Cape Cod Times article written by C. Ryan Barber grievously titled "Upper Cape Counselors Banned from Bourne Middle School."

I would be remiss not to agree that every school on Cape Cod has a keen eye on their changing enrollment due to demographic shifts and the "choice" factor. Students and families have a variety of competing educational choices when progressing from 8th grade to 9th grade.

The goal of my entry is to share some points of interest that were not represented in the article and are germane to the bigger picture. Through a more thorough examination of the issues, I hope to add contextual clarity and substance.

Speaking specifically to enrollment, it is defined differently for schools across Cape Cod. As a public community-based school district, we are obligated to create, provide, and evolve a community-based public school system that welcomes and serves all students in the town of Bourne. The only application required is from families who would like to take advantage of school choice and have their children enrolled in Bourne Public Schools. Publicly funded schools like Upper Cape Tech and charter schools actually define their enrollment through an application and acceptance process that includes waiting lists. Similarly, tuition-based schools define their enrollment through applications and particular membership features. The omission of these details in the article is concerning.

A cursory read of said article reflects an abrogation of Bourne's support of the Tech school's access to 8th grade students which is counter factual to the big picture. As a public school district, we provide every publicly funded application-based school, private school, and parochial school a student directory with our 8th grade information in support of their outreach allowing each to connect individually with students and inform families of their open house events.

Our guidance staff, classroom teachers and administrators have unconditional systems of communication and support for all 8th grade students and their families exploring their successive educational options. Our middle school staff has open lines of communication with Upper Cape Tech staff throughout the recruiting and application process and we are very proud of our relationship with the technical school.

As an example, I am aware that our local technical school actively recruits families by sending multiple mailings, sending personal letters from administration, and robo-calling homes. These communications advertise free meals and free access to interscholastic events for prospective 8th families. Additionally, signs don lawns all across town.

I am also aware that our local Tech school had a waiting list of over 100 applicants who were not accepted last year from membership towns. As a community-based public school educator who welcomes all students, I think it is important for me to interject my empathy and support to those students and families who were recommended or interested in attending publicly-funded application schools but were turned away and I plead with technical schools to establish a lottery system for selecting applicants similar to the systems used by charter schools. In this manner, every interested student has the equal opportunity to attend through fairness in the selection process.

In conclusion, readers must move beyond the sensationalism characterized in the aforementioned Cape Cod Times article. In Bourne, we will continue to put students first and welcome all to our schools. Again, every educator on Cape Cod is acutely aware of the shifts in enrollment and the impact of choice and every school leader is working tirelessly with their local boards to establish the best schools for their community, and “shine”, as a byproduct for a "choice" market. Additionally, in a choice market, every parent, caregiver and guardian must evaluate all choices available to their students. Forgoing a single presentation does not subjugate a Bourne family’s path to exploring available choices for successive schooling.

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