Guntersville City Schools opens avenue for parent and community input on proposed tuition fee, other topics

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- Guntersville City Schools is opening an avenue for parents to provide input on the proposed tuition fee that will be discussed at the end of the month, and on any other issues.

In late March, the Guntersville Board of Education plans to discuss a proposal that would charge a fee to non-resident students.

Last month the Board tabled a vote on the measure.

In the meantime, the system is opening an avenue for parent input -- on this matter, or anything else. "I have created an email address specifically for community members to provide any questions, concerns, comments," Superintendent Brett Stanton says. That email is superintendnet@gcboe.net.

Stanton says this provides another way for parents, guardians, and members of the community to reach out to the system.

The Board will be discussing the fee at its regular meeting on March 28, at 5 p.m. at Cherokee Elementary School, in its media center.

School officials say the proposed charge is a necessary effort to offset the financial deficit accrued throughout the last decade of state cuts.

The fee would not impact non-resident families this current school year. "We're going to have to probably put a cap and be selective in our process as far as admitting non-resident students," Stanton says. That's because of financial constraints.

If the fee is implemented, non-resident students already in the system who meet school expectations would have priority, as well as any future siblings wishing to register.

Families would have to make a partial deposit this May for the 2016-17 school year. That would be $50 for one student, $75 for two and $100 for three or more. On July 13th, the remaining balance would be due totaling $300 for one student and $600 for two or more children.

30 percent, or nearly 600 students, of current Guntersville students live outside of the city limits. With the additional fees going towards the general fund, that would equate to roughly $290,000 a year.

The funding would be used to fund maintenance staff, school nurses, support educational programs and more.

Other school systems in the area charge fees to non-residents, including Scottsboro, Boaz and Albertville.

Scottsboro charges $300 per student and $150 for each additional student in a family, not to exceed $450/family per year. Here's more information.

Boaz charges $250 per non-resident student with a cap of $600 per family per year. Superintendent Mark Isley said that's based on the economy and taxes in the city limits.  The school system started this fee two years ago.

Albertville does not charge non-resident students who enter during Kindergarten or first grade and stay continuously enrolled in the school system. However, if a student enters after first grade or leaves the school system and returns, it's $1,200/year per child.  Albertville is not currently accepting tuition students right now because the school system is full, Superintendent Rick Ayer said.  There are a few spots for Kindergarten and first grade, though.

Ayer said Albertville does give families a break if they own a business in the city limits, because they pay city taxes in that measure.