Guida: Tuition Must Cover Costs

The Barrington School Commitee will shelve its "pilot program" for recruiting 10 out-of-district students for next year if tuition won't cover all costs for them.

Barrington will shelve its idea for a “pilot program” that recruits 10 out-of-district students to its top-ranked schools next year unless the tuition it charges covers the cost of educating those kids.

That may be the most definite decision made about the pilot program so far, said School Committee Chairman Patrick Guida.

The only other solid decisions made so far, said Guida, is that “we will not exceed 10 students at this point in time” and “we set the tuition at exactly our per-pupil expenditure, $12,800.”

Other than that, Guida said: “All we’ve really said is that we want to do a pilot program. I don’t know yet where it will go.”

“We have no criteria established,” he said. “We just know that we would like to test the waters to see if it’s feasible. We’re not done yet.”

Guida, an attorney and the vice chairman of the Rhode Island Board of Regents, said conversations he has had with officials at the Rhode Island Department of Education and with other legal professionals indicate that the program could be seen as discriminatory.

“There is always the possibility of charges of bias or discrimination being made,” he said. “If we run into legal difficulties, we will drop the program.”

Guida said he spent the better part of Thursday answering questions about the proposal in very broad strokes. He said he told everyone the program is still a work in progress.

“If it turns out as we explore further, and as the idea evolves, that we can’t offer admission to the general public without offering the same price, we will shelve the idea for the time being,” he said.

“We’re not in a position for Barrington taxpayers, who already pay 93 percent of school costs, to say to them that we will fill the slots available with high-priced kids,” he said, referring to children with special needs or costly individual education plans (IEPs).

The costs for special-needs children can be in the tens of thousands of dollars and even more, Guida said.

“We’re not averse to teaching those kids,” he said, “but the tuition set for them would be done on a case-by-case basis.”

Although criteria and guidelines still need to be developed, Guida said, Barrington will be looking for “academically responsible children, not necessarily high learners, but children with a strong interest in learning. We’re not interested in admitting someone on the truancy list.”

Students who show "the potential to over-achieve from wherever they start from," he said, are the types of students of most interest to Barrington.

“We want someone who will get something out of Barrington,” he said.

Barrington already educates 3 to 5 tuition-paying students a year, Guida said. For instance, a student’s parent might move but they want to have their child finish up his or her last year in Barrington. They pay tuition because they are no longer Barrington taxpayers.

Other school districts do the same thing. So, having tuition-paid students is not unusual.

“This is really just an expansion of that,” he said. “I don’t see it as much different.”

What does make this effort rather ground-breaking, though, he said, is that Barrington will recruit students to fill those 10 slots – one in each grade except grades four and five.

Guida said details for the program probably won’t be ready by the Financial Town Meeting on May 23. But the anticipated revenue from those 10 slots will be in the budget.

A more feasible deadline for all details to be worked out is by the end of school in June, he said. "At that point, we will have the criteria established and invite applications.”

Applications will be invited, of course, Guida said, only if “we can cover our costs.”

See separate stories on rifuture.org, at boston.com, at RINPR.com, and at WPRI.com.

Manifold Witness May 11, 2012 at 11:18 AM
It is irresponsible for the School Committee to budget this revenue. They should cut costs now. The School Committee is, in effect, probably budgeting an underfunded law suit or two… or three or… ten. Wouldn’t any out-of-district business manager worth his/her salt pay 10 special ed parents to apply to have their children go to the Barrington schools for $12,800 each? Barrington gets sued. The other school district saves a bundle. It’s a lose-lose for Barrington. The announcement of this new program was in the “ProJo” as though it’s a “done deal”. When did the School Committee decide the things that Mr. Guida is now saying? Barrington should not sell the school district. Period. It’s a problematic slippery slope. They should deal with the declining enrollment and cut costs now. Who is in charge here? Mr. Guida’s a lawyer. This is appalling. This is the same School Committee that just bungled the hiring process for a new Superintendent. This is the same School Committee that continues to waste everyone’s time chasing non-scientific sleep studies and costly “late starts”. This is the same School Committee that has allowed non-compliance with the fire code. Maybe it’s time for a vote. “No confidence”.
Pam May 11, 2012 at 11:36 AM
I, too, am concerned that this revenue was put into the budget. What happens to the budget if this program is scrapped? Maybe the school committee put the cart before the horse.
Gary Morse May 11, 2012 at 12:19 PM
As was pointed out in a previous post, Classical High School has admissions tests, so why not these students applying in Barrington? http://barrington.patch.com/articles/schools-recruiting-new-students Classical is different in that all students are given an admissions test, but not all students are required to take an admissions test in Barrington public schools (key term - "public school"). Thus a single price tag of $12K tuition in a public school might discriminate if a class of federally protected students cannot attend at a cost of $12K (i.e. those students protected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)). Before moving forward, we need a legal opinion from someone who has experience in these matters, not from our town attorney.
Geoff Grove May 11, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Well, I like the idea and hope it will work as intended. It is a creative, innovative solution to a difficult problem. Attracting motivated students to Barrington will only improve the system. Their success will inspire other students and districts to improve. There must, however, be rules around admittance and continuity - i.e. a student that is matriculated should be allowed to continue to graduation as long as their tuition is paid. There is no doubt that navigating these waters will be tricky, and there will be many challenges. But, the School Committee and Administration is comprised of smart, committed people. I think they will figure it out and make it work.
Townie May 11, 2012 at 04:13 PM
No more tax increases. Should this program not work out and the expected money is taken out of the budget, then the schools must reduce their costs to make it up. Yes, layoffs.
Joel Hellmann May 11, 2012 at 08:17 PM
I hope that the legal issues can be resolved, But if not the schools and would drop the program. I would not worry too much about the budgeting of The $126, 000 extra. It may sound like a lot but I have followed the budget more than anyone in the last 17 years and in the terms of the school overall budget, ( not that they would ever consider any of my advice) Folks in the schools$126,000 it really is like a fly on an elephant. .002%? It may go away but the elephant wont miss it to much. There are countless ways that the schools can make up that amount. Which is why the losing of a teacher in industrial arts is sad. I am preparing a 2 part series next week on how the schools could save money now and in the future. Really $126,000 can be solved easily and that is always been the point the appropriations committee has been trying to make. Buzz is doing the right thing. find out if we can pick the students and if not then just drop the program and find another way to make up the money.
J B Mom May 12, 2012 at 12:40 AM
This policy was not well thought out or vetted. Schools use many more resources than the ones that show up in the school budget and to base a tuition price on the budget leaves out the cost of fire, police, DPW, capital bond improvements and other resources that go into the total cost of supporting Town schools. Many of us have paid taxes far exceeding the budgeted amount for many more years than we have had a child in the school system, this is how schools are paid for. With the number of homes currently on the market in town one wonders if any will sell when a person could pay far lower taxes in neighboring towns and simply pay a tuition for the years that they want to use the Barrington Schools. Finally, this opens the doors to all kinds of discrimination lawsuits and once filed you pay, it's too late, scrapping the program won't make a suit go away. Perhaps the real intent is to attract ringer athletes like the private schools? That will be another varsity spot that a resident doesn't get. This policy is a loser abandon it now.
Manifold Witness May 12, 2012 at 02:29 AM
So which lawyer will be drafting the contracts for these 10 students? Because now this is a contractual relationship for the Barrington school district to provide certain educational services to these 10 purchasers. How much will it cost to draft these individualized contracts? This legal expense is not in the $12,800. What happens if one of these kids gets suspended? Do the parents stop paying if the kid’s not in school? Or are there different behavioral standards for these private school contract kids? To keep them happy so they’ll keep paying. Do they pay in advance? What if they don’t think the education is not such great quality after all? Can they leave? Any refunds? Does the school then go to the next kid on some list? What if the parents don’t pay? How will the town collect? Lien on the house? What if the parents can’t pay? Will the student be removed? What if it’s in the middle of senior year and the parents can’t pay….or they say they can’t? Who manages all this, including the billing & collections? Do these kids participate in sports? Do they get to play on all the teams? Any “ringers”? Is this fair all the districts? Is it fair to other Barrington kids?


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »