2005-12-08 / News

Tuitioning-in students from other districts discussed

By Donna K. Drago

In a follow-up discussion on a topic brought up at the last reorganization workshop in November, School Superintendent Kathy Sipala told the School Committee what she knew about taking in paying students to fill in some of the gaps made by a declining Jamestown student population.

The school board heard from Sipala that taking paying students, whose parents for one reason or another want to send their child to another school, is “a practice that does happen” in other districts, “usually in high school.”

Since she has been in the Jamestown district, she had only received three calls from parents looking for information about sending their kids to Jamestown so far, Sipala said.

Beth Pinto, the schools’ special education director, said “I receive calls all the time” from parents “begging me” to take their special education children.

“I tell them we don’t have a policy” to accept students from out of the district, she said.

Sipala said that when a school takes in out-of-district students, it usually begins with an individual contacting the school department.

“It’s not done by advertising or putting the word out,” she noted.

School Committee member Jim Filkins said that taking in students was “an effective way to use your space,” but he “wasn’t particularly comfortable” with the thought of advertising.

Julie Kallfelz, another school board member, said that she could not imagine the Jamestown schools actively marketing students. But she said she saw the process as done by referrals or “happening passively.”

Kallfelz asked if it was possible to put in “some screening mechanisms” to ensure that “we don’t bring in issues that other districts may be trying to rid themselves of.” She added, “We don’t want to be a dumping ground for truants.”

Filkins asked if it would be possible to set different tuitions for regular education students versus special education students as in the arrangement that Jamestown has with North Kingstown High School, where special education students pay approximately three times more than a general education tuition.

John Pini, the former superintendent of the Chariho School District, who is helping to facilitate the re-organization discussions, said that parents have a misconception of what a tuition might be at another public school. “They’re thinking $2,000 and we say $12,000 and that’s the end of the conversation,” Pini said.

Committee Chairwoman Kaiser said that she wanted to further the discussion after the new year.

“Let’s put it on the to-do list,” she said.

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