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Schools Recruiting New Students

The proposed Barrington school budget shows a new source of revenue -- tuition for up to 10 out-of-district students.

Barrington is actively recruiting up to 10 students – one in each grade except fourth- and fifth-grades – to attend its highly regarded schools.  At a cost of almost $12,800 each for tuition.

“We never had seats before,” said Superintendent Robert McIntyre before the annual budget hearing hosted by the Committee on Appropriations at the middle school on Wednesday evening.

“It’s something new," he said. "We’re trying it to see if it will attract students.”

The proposed $44.6 million dollar school budget shows an actual revenue line item of almost $127,000 for tuition for out-of-district students. It’s a line item that could come up short if the district does not find 10 students to fill the seats.

McIntyre said he isn’t overly concerned. Neither is the School Committee.

“We’ve always had way more requests (than 10) each year in the past,” he said.

“The School Committee said it is confident it can fill the seats,” said Kathy Cadigan, chair of the Committee on Appropriations. “We thought the line item should be set lower.”

McIntyre said during the budget hearing that the criteria for admission to the schools is still being designed. He said the administration will look for the “best fits.”

The superintendent was responding to a question from parent Joel Hellmann: “How will we be assured that we get students that will only cost $12,800?”

McIntyre said the tuition was set at a level to attract students.

“We didn’t want to go too high,” he said. It could be adjusted in future years.

McIntyre stressed that no matter what, only one out-of-district student will be admitted to each grade, even if the number of out-of-district students comes up short.

He said that anyone interested in one of the seats should contact him, Assistant Superintendent Mike Messore or Finance Director Ron Tarro.

See a separate story on tuition in the Providence Journal

Scott Clark May 10, 2012 at 12:36 PM
So in a down economy they're confident they can get 10 kids admitted at $12k a year based on criteria they haven't finished designing yet?
Manifold Witness May 10, 2012 at 02:14 PM
The full cost of an education in the Barrington school system is more than $12,800 per student, whether or not the students are on IEPs. “IEP” is an Individualized Education Plan for special education which includes the school district providing “educational and related services”. The “related services” covers a lot of services that can be very, very expensive. The $12,800 neglects a number of costs that will have to be subsidized by the Barrington taxpayers. Even if the 10 new out-of-town students are not special ed students. The cost of one special ed student is far more than $12,800. So will the Barrington School District discriminate? Will there be expensive lawsuits? What if 10 students enter the system not as special ed, but then they develop a need for an IEP and become special ed? Does the school district have the authority to overtax the Barrington taxpayers? Does the school district have the authority to overtax the Barrington taxpayers to create such a subsidized hybrid school system? This new system is a partial, underfunded, municipal enterprise system that forces the Barrington taxpayers to be at risk to subsidize costs for non-Barrington taxpayers. How many seats will the district want to sell next year? The year after that? The school district needs to cut costs and cut taxes. They shouldn't be selling the system to out-of-towners piece by underpriced subsidized piece. And they should comply with the fire code.
Dylan Walsh May 10, 2012 at 04:59 PM
All excellent comments above. How does the Town even know they have 10 openings for next year? They have no control over who moves into the Town between now and August and can't know who is transferring into the public system from private or parochial at this point. It's a given that they won't accept students with IEPs - it just costs too much. That definitely opens the door to discrimination actions as it's a public entity. This is just another way to try to raise money instead of cutting costs.
Gary Morse May 10, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Will we legally be able to enforce admissions criteria? And what about the "once accepted" statutes covering public education in RI. And even if by criteria, will Barrington taxpayers guarantee the education costs even if special needs are later identified? Special needs students can be in the $40-50K range per student once a "student advocate" gets done with a review. Who pays the cost of busing? And do we get a bump in the school funding formula because we are relieving another towns burden? This "we make it up in volume" budget strategy has a few loose ends that make me wonder about the total impact to the taxpayer vs. just managing to a leaner "Barrington only" model.
Gary Morse May 10, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Dylan, I wouldn't be too sure about "won't accept students with IEP's". They are a protected class and it's unclear how a court would interpret rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) once we open the door with an advertised price tag on the cost. It is an unknown at this point.
Joel Hellmann May 10, 2012 at 06:00 PM
I asked the Special ed question last night at the appropriaions meeting. The administration seemed pretty sure that they could pick and choose students from out of the district. If they can, then it is a great idea. adding one more student to 10 of the 12 grades while in theory incurs extra expence, it really does not cost more when a class that goes from 23-24 students costs the same in fixed expences. and it would raise $126,000 Having said that, if you get one special ed student, then it is a big loser. even worse if they have a court ordered education advocate, whose job it seems is mostly to order more and more IEP meetings to the detriment and cost of the entire town and no benifit to the student. I am fighting DCYF over a pig headed education advocate that has cost the town $50,000 so far and I can't get her removed! and she has never even met the 2 students she advocates for! and is clueless to what they need. she just knows that she can make towns pay for services. I believe she enjoys the power. I believe in Special Ed. it is the law and it can help students be successful adults, but like everything the money has to be used wisely. To the administration be careful. One mistake and this plan will be a big loser.
Gary Morse May 10, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Joel, Is there a legal opinion on whether or not cherry picking students is lawful under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)? Since we accept federal money in RI, we appear to be bound by the Act. But I'd like to see an opinion by attorney on that before we hang out a $12K per student shingle.
Joel Hellmann May 10, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Gary, It is a good question. I don't know the answer. I don't know that they are expecting any state or federal extra money for out of state students. And they have been taking them on a case by case for years. I was aware of a couple of the kids. I know 35 years ago several Cranston students paid to go to Classical when I went there. And classical discriminates against special needs all on it's own with the admissions test.But being Barrington I know if we can be sued we will. We can't turn down special ed in town, but must we take them form out of town? But that was why I asked the question last night.
DontWorryBoutIT June 18, 2012 at 11:55 AM
why do Joel Hellmann and Manifold Witness have to be all over the patch? get a life and get off no one cares what you think or have to say!
Joel Hellmann June 18, 2012 at 01:29 PM
@DontWorry Then why do people all over town thank me for writing and tell me to keep writing. By the way, leave your name for as far as I know you could be 1 person leaving comments under 7 names. Sign your name when you write something that is what a person does.
Gary Morse June 18, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Dontworry, RI politics survives on indifference.

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