During a recent Worth County Board of Education meeting, board members discussed the possibility of charging tuition to non resident students. Director of Finance Lisa Deariso was asked to explain the cost of accepting children from Albany’s Marine Base. According to Deariso, “$8,316 was spent per student.” The amount of state and federal funds to help with these expenditures only totaled $6,040. Currently there are 57 students enrolled from “Marine Base families” so the total cost for them to attend Worth County schools was $470,000. With the state and federal funds being considered, the amount left to provide by the county was estimated to be almost $130,000.
Based on that information, Deariso estimated if each student was charged a tuition of $1,651, the county’s cost (which includes bus transportation) would only be about $35,900 out of a possible $95,000. These numbers were considered to be “conservative” by Chairman Jenkins because they did not include costs for Special Education students.
Attorney Clarence Miller questioned the calculation of Deariso’s “state formula” that amounted to the $1,651 charge per student. Jenkins agreed and stated that to “break even” a charge of $2,200 would have to be implemented. However the state of Georgia only allows for a total charge of $1,651 per student, so an additional charge would be unlawful.
After concerns were voiced by other board members, Miller suggested to “suspend” the policy of accepting “out of county students.” The motion was made by board member Billy Oliver to suspend the policy “until further information on revising this policy can be brought before the board.” The motion was seconded by Melvin Jefferson.
Board member Jerry Jones voiced concerns over “telling the kids you can’t come here now, you’ve got to go somewhere else.” Miller assured him that Worth County taxpayers “had no duty” to assume the task of educating these children at their cost, but the decision was at the board’s “discretion.” Jones stated, “if we’re gonna change it, they need to be notified quick.”
The decision to suspend the policy until it could be “revised” was unanimous among the board members.