SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass. — In response to a student population expected to shrink over the next decade, Southborough will consider closing at least one of its four schools.
Finn Elementary School, Woodward Elementary School, Neary Elementary School and Trottier Middle School house the town’s 1,400 pre-K through grade 8 students. But none of these four schools is filled to full capacity, according to Advisory Committee member Brian Shea’s population analysis.
Finn, which was designed for 450 students, houses only about 290 in pre-K through Grade 1. Woodward, designed for 440, holds only about 270 students in Grades 2 and 3. Though it currently houses a little more than 300 students in grades 4 and 5, Neary could hold up to 450. Finally, Trottier, with its capacity of 650 students, houses only about 500.
In addition, the town’s total student population is expected to decrease to about 1,000 students by 2021, Shea said.
Shea explained three potential school closure scenarios at the Advisory Committee meeting Monday night:
• Scenario 1: Neary is closed. Finn takes students in pre-K through Grade 2. Students in Grades 3 through 5 attend Woodward, while students in Grades 6 through 8 go to Trottier. Shea said, population-wise, this scenario is not viable until 2014, when the projected student population at Woodward dips below its total capacity.
• Scenario 2: Neary is closed. Finn holds students in pre-K through Grade 2. Students in Grades 3 through 4 attend Woodward, while students in Grades 5 through 8 go to Trottier. This scenario, Shea said, would not be viable until 2015, when the projected student population at Trottier drops below its total capacity.
• Scenario 3: Neary and Woodward are closed. Students in pre-K through Grade 3 will attend Finn, while students in Grades 4 through 8 will go to Trottier. Shea said this scenario was not viable, as the projected student population at Finn never falls below its total capacity.
Although the Southborough School Committee controls the schools, it may hand control of a school building to the Board of Selectmen if it determines a surplus exists.
All parties involved should work together closely on this issue, Superintendent Charles Gobron said.
"I don’t think we have competing interests,” Gobron said. “I think we all want the very best.
"We’re not going to keep four schools open if we don’t have the students to fit four schools," he added.