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Millburn / Short Hills — Letters to the Editor

Let the Board of Ed Know What You Think About Non-Resident Students

Noreen Brunini

Friday, March 14, 2014 • 9:00am

To Editor, The Alternative Press

If alot of people speak up, the Board of Ed (BOE) will pay attention to the message.  For this reason I created a petition to the Board of Education in reference to the amendment of Policy 5111 (currently under discussion by the BOE) requesting the District to charge a prorated tuition to the parent/guardian of any student whose parent/guardians move out of Millburn School district after Feb 1 of any school year but whose child/children are allowed to finish out that school year at a Millburn School as a “guest, nonresident student”.

The BoE generally maintains it does not have enough money -- all year they have been saying they "might need a referendum"; they "might need" to request a budget override vote to get more than a 2% increase in school  taxes.  In the recent past, residents have been asked to pay for courtesy busing; administrative positions were cut for financial reasons etc.  This proposed policy 5111 seems to send an opposite message – one of largesse with its continuation of the very generous provision of waived tuition for families who chose to move out of district midyear yet still live close enough to stay in a District school.

As the policy is in review, and Public Comment is requested, it is the appropriate time to discuss the financial implications of the policy.  My impression  from speaking with many residents over the years, is many residents do agree its nice to allow a student to stay in district to finish up a school year, especially a high school senior,  BUT they think the family should pay tuition for the privilege; they do not want to subsidize someone who CHOOSES to move to another town. These former neighbors are people who can afford to pay tuition.  There is also the issue that in the majority of cases the people  who bought the recently sold neighbor’s house are also sending new children into the school system.  Even a wealthy District such as MIllburn has finite resources.

Finally there is the recent controversy of whether there are nonresident students in district and if yes, how many and how would they get into the system in the first place.  In theory, not many families would be taking advantage of this policy in a given year so it seems easy to just be generous and waive tuition. But in thinking about it, it has occurred to me that this District policy is a way to get into the school system legally,  move midyear and then stay on in the District in future years.  Since there are not strict controls on re registering students it would be pretty easy to return in a future year.  I don't know that this has happened --  but as it is a possibility the prudent thing would be to tighten up the policy to eliminate that from happening in the future.  If the district were charging families who move out of district a tuition to finish the term they would have a list to reference the following Sept. when students return or if they did districtwide re-registrations annually they would also stop this from happening.  If you agree please sign the petition at
http://www.change.org/petitions/millburn-board-of-education-millburn-nj-policy-5111-charge-tuition-for-nonresident-students?utm_source=guides&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=petition_created   or attend the BOE meeting on March 24.

Respectfully Submitted

Noreen Brunini

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