Members of the Board of Education discussed the consequences of raising the St. Joseph School District’s tuition rate during Monday’s Finance Committee Meeting.
Currently, the district’s tuition rates for those coming into St. Joseph from another district sit at $3,750 per year for K-6 classes and $4,000 for 7-12 classes. Gabe Edgar, the St. Joseph School District’s director of finance, said during last month’s Board of Education meeting the district’s tuition hadn’t been looked at for some time, leading to Monday’s discussions.
“Really, when we take a student in who lives in Gower, Faucett or Country Club, and they attend with us – on average, our pupil expenditure is a little north of $9,000 – and we’re collecting $4,000 on them,” Dr. Robert Sigrist, the director of non-academic support and student services, said.
Edgar invited Don Lawrence, the superintendent with the Avenue City School District, to speak during Monday’s committee meeting on the consequences of a scenario that involved raising the tuition by 75 percent to $7,000 over the course of a few years.
Lawrence said he appreciated the opportunity to come before the committee, as such a move would be devastating for his school district, which he said currently has around 51 high-school students, with about half of them coming to St. Joseph.
The Avenue City School District currently is paying $212,000 in tuition to St. Joseph and Savannah combined. With a decrease in state revenue as well as more high school students expected in the coming years, Lawrence described it as the perfect storm for his district.
“If your proposed 75 percent increase in tuition goes into effect, our tuition will increase over the next three years from $212,000 to $567,000,” Lawrence said. “Our entire budget is $2.4 million. If you go up from $4,000 to $7,000 in tuition, no matter when you do it, it’s going to be devastating for us.”
As the information sent to him was just a scenario and no official decision has been made, he asked that he be part of tuition discussions going forward.
“I invited Don because I did want the board to know how it does affect Avenue City,” Edgar said. “They’re good kids – kids that we want to come to St. Joe, so we didn’t want to jeopardize that. It affects (the Avenue City School District) in a negative way, because they have to take away from students or take away from other areas to pay for that tuition. I think what we’ll do now is kind of slow down a little bit … It’s nothing we’re going to look at for the 19-20 school year, but it is probably something that we still need to have conversations on.”
Next steps involve gathering data on districts around St. Joseph to examine how much they charge for tuition while scheduling conversations for the finance committee during several upcoming meetings.