Public schools may want to consider tuition

Published 8:54 am Saturday, May 5, 2012

To the Editor:

Newspapers are full of articles on school budget shortfalls and the lack of adequate funding.

In these economic times, we may have reached the limits for school funding by the general taxpayers and still support other required services that our local governments need.

One source of revenue and expense reduction for public schools that is rarely mentioned is to have parents of the students be more a part the solution. They have the direct vested interest and are the users of the schools.

Let the parents of every student in school have the option to either pay some small annual tuition or commit to a small amount of time weekly to the school system for the year. Either way, revenues are increased or expenses are reduced for the school system.

In Isle of Wight where I live, a school official told me there are approximately 5,500 students in kindergarten through 12th grades.1 did not ask about the number of parents, but for this exercise, let’s estimate 3,000. If 1,000 parents paid $1,200 annual tuition, that would increase revenues annually by $1.2 million.

The remaining 2,000 parents could opt to work in the schools two hours each per week for the year in a job they could do that would reduce expenses. Two hours times 52 weeks is 104 hours annually. At $10 per hour, that would reduce expenses per parent by $1,040 and with 2,000 parents taking take this option, the annual expense reduction would be $2.08 million. Thus, the total annual increase to the county’s schools budget would be $3.3 million.

Another important benefit from such a program is greater parental participation and interest in how dollars are spent and allocated in the school system.

It is my understanding that private schools in our area have annual tuition cost ranging from $6,000 to $12,000. Surely, our public schools are worth a greater financial or work commitment from parents in these economic times.

Harold Blythe