The cost for students who attend summer school at is increasing this year from $175 to $200 for town residents and $215 to $240 for non-residents.
School Committee members approved the fee hike at their meeting earlier this week, agreeing to the request of Secondary Summer School Director Anthony Garofalo, who argued that the increase is necessary to keep the operation self-sufficient after recent years of decreasing enrollment and contractually-obligated pay raises for teachers.
Last year the program finished with a deficit of $2,200 after seven years of operating in the black, Garofalo said in a letter to the committee. Only two school systems – Brockton and King Philip Regional – had summer school fees as low as Braintree, according to research done by Garofalo. Others, such as $350 for residents at Catholic Memorial, have significantly higher rates.
"This deficit included the savings from eliminating one course that had an extremely low enrollment total," he said in the letter. "Without this cut, we would have finished with a larger budget deficit."
Mayor Joseph Sullivan questioned the viability of the program in general on Monday night. Why have it at all if summer school is going to lose money and it is not required of the district, he asked.
The program contributes to Braintree High's impressive graduation rate, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Maureen Murray said. "If students are making progress, they are less apt to drop out."
Tom Devin, whose son has used the program, said it is important to keep student's minds sharp over their three-month break.
One hundred students enrolled in the program last summer – 79 from Braintree and 21 from other towns, Murray said. Students can take various courses for credit to keep them from falling behind or to catch up, and can also take SAT prep courses.
Member Joe Zarrella was the lone no vote on the increase. He said the committee should have taken more time to consider the program's merits and finances.
By comparison, the elementary summer school program had $17,000 in its revolving account at the end of the year, Business Manager Peter Kress said. A portion of that money is used annually to start the following year's program.