You asked: Tuition does not cover $2,735 local cost to educate students

Published 11:44 am Saturday, May 19, 2012

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You asked: What does the Southampton County School Board charge non-resident students for tuition? And why doesn’t it match the amount the amount of local funding required to educate that student?

COURTLAND—Students who live outside Southampton County but to attend its public schools pay $700 in tuition. At the same time, it costs $2,735 in local dollars to educate that student.

The school district has 125 out-of-district students. Therefore, it takes $341,875 in local dollars to educate those students, while $87,500 is collected in tuition, leaving an unpaid balance of $254,375.

Dr. Wayne Smith, executive director of administration and personnel for the school district, said the fee was set after looking at state revenue and other sources.

“With strategic placement of non-resident children by class throughout the school division, non-resident children do not add to the expense of the local operating budget,” Smith said. “If non-resident children were removed, the personnel cost would remain the same.”

School Board Vice Chairwoman Roberta Naranjo said setting a reasonable rate helps the school system in the long run because it lifts the schools’ average attendance, which leads to an increase in state funds.

It costs $10,391 to educate a student in the county, of which $7,656 comes from the state for each student enrolled.

“Everything is constantly looked at, but I don’t see any great need to raise the rate,” Naranjo said.

She likes allowing out-of-district students to attend, but noted that space for those students should be limited.

The out-of district tuition rate in Franklin is $700, while its per-pupil local spending was $3,870 in 2010.

Isle of Wight County charges $3,530 tuition at the high schools and $3,020 at the elementary and middle schools.

Both rates are the maximum the school system can charge for tuition, said spokeswoman Catherine Goff.

Isle of Wight spends $4,400 locally per student.