Out-of-district school tuition creates varying solutions

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Purdy opts for lowest rate in local area

The Purdy school board adopted out-of-district tuition for the current school year at a rate significantly lower than other area districts.

Superintendent Steven Chancellor recommended keeping the out-of-district rate at $2,000 per semester, or $4,000 for the year, the same rate the district has used since at least 2005. No family has approached the district in recent years asking for out-of-district rates, and Purdy's per pupil average expenditure was $8,225 in the 2015-2016 school year.

The Cassville school district charges $6,500 for out of district tuition. The amount was raised $250 this year. Richard Asbill, superintendent in Cassville, said the number is based on expenses per pupil, which was about $7,900 in the 2015-2016 school year. He said the district tries to stay within the 80 percent range of the per pupil cost.

Asbill said the Blue Eye school district has charged $7,000 and students who attend Shell Knob K-8 can choose Cassville or Blue Eye, and for those who choose Cassville, the Shell Knob school pays the Cassville district.

"That's because Shell Knob retains all that local assessed valuation of homes and boats," he said.

Southwest's rate is $7,920 based on per pupil expenditure. Superintendent Tosha Tilford said the district looks at the per pupil cost on the department of Elementary and Secondary Education's website, and this year's rate dropped from more than $8,133 last year.

"It fluctuates depending on our expenditure year to year," she said.

Exeter does not have an out-of-district tuition rate. Ernest Raney, superintendent, said students must provide proof of residency in the enrollment process.

Wheaton's rate is $6,241 per year based on the state adequacy target.

School districts typically set an out-of-district rate at the beginning of the new school year. When the question came up this month at the Verona school district, Superintendent Tony Simmons explained his district, which is smaller than Purdy’s, spends $9,230.27 per student. Based on the weighted average daily attendance, the weighted amount by state calculations came out to $7,482.34.

Simmons explained that if a student started attending in the district but lived elsewhere, the state would not transfer its support from one district to another. If the district did not set its out-of-district tuition high enough, the district would end up taking money that normally went to support its residents to cover costs for the new student.

Therefore, Simmons recommended adopting an out-of-district tuition at $7,482.34, which was approved. He said he has received inquiries about the amount, but no family has chosen to pay the fee.

In the Monett district, the out-of-district tuition was set at $9,066, based on the per pupil expenditure. Superintendent Brad Hanson recommended increasing the amount by $664 this year, up from $8,400 last year.

The Pierce City school district has no out-of-district tuition rate. According to board policy, the district accepts no out-of-district students.

Hearing that other districts ask for much high out-of-district tuition, Chancellor said he was reluctant to throw an even larger number at the public.

“I’d rather wait for a problem before we create a solution,” he said.

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