Guntersville City Schools discuss tuition fee for students who live outside city limits

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. - Monday night the Guntersville Board of Education tabled a vote on a measure to charge a fee to non-resident students who attend Guntersville City Schools.

The meeting was a packed house with standing room only. Dozens of parents were in attendance to learn about the tuition charge.

Superintendent Brett Stanton announced the fee is a result of state funding being cut throughout the years. 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 families this current school year.  Families would have to make a partial deposit this May for the 2016-17 school year, though.

The May fee 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.

Stanton said 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.

Parents expressed frustration at the meeting. Many stated they were not properly informed of the decision being made and needed more facts. The board, in turn, tabled the vote for a later time. Superintendent Stanton expressed the board must come to a unanimous decision on the matter.

"It is absolutely difficult," said Stanton. "It's one of those times as a superintendent that you are forced to make difficult decisions because of difficult times."

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 1st grade and stay continuously enrolled in the school system. However, if a student enters after 1st 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 1st 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.