The report attributes the decline in school enrollment in Hull to changing demographics, finding that the city’s full-time population of around 10,500 is skewed by older retired residents and single professionals without children.
“To escape the busier surrounding communities and take advantage of its affordability, Hull is now seen as a place to retire and / or escape the hustle and bustle of the Boston area,” the report said.
The report also noted that Hull is not alone in facing the drop in enrollment. “School districts in Massachusetts and New England are grappling with similar issues,” the report says.
The team of consultants presented the Hull school committee with four options to address the issue, three of which are to close the Memorial Middle School building.
The report included the possibility of keeping all three schools open, saying that from a “strictly educational point of view” this would allow the district to continue to improve.
“However, the challenges presented by financial sustainability and projections for the next decade indicate a decline in enrollments that does not justify the operation of three establishments,” the report said.
The other options are a variation on the theme of closing middle school and moving classes to high school and elementary school.
Also on the table: relocating Hull’s municipal offices from dilapidated City Hall to the college building, while still making room for special education classes from the South Shore Educational Collaborative, the Hull Family Network, and other school-related programs.
The Hull school committee brought in consultants to help understand how to deal with the problem, especially after an attempt to regionalize with other communities came to nothing.
“Hingham is out of breath and Cohasset has no interest,” school committee chairman David Twombly said in a telephone interview. âGeography hurts us a bit. We don’t have a lot of dance partners.
Twombly praised the thoroughness of the consultant’s report, but said any change in the layout of the district was “probably in two years.”
He said the school committee wanted to hold several group discussions to get feedback from parents, teachers, staff and residents before making decisions. But restrictions on large group meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to know when that would happen, he said.
âIt would be difficult to do on Zoom,â he said. âThis COVID is making things more difficult. “
However, Hull may find it easier to accommodate social distancing when schools return to in-person learning, he said, because “we have so much extra space.”
Johanna Seltz can be contacted at email@example.com.