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Warren County could raise out-of-county tuition

By Kim Walter

Out-of-county tuition rates could increase by about $700 for Warren County Public Schools.

The Warren County School Board will vote Thursday on the tuition increase, which would raise the rate to $5,976 a year, compared to last year's rate of $5,289.

Rob Ballentine, director of finance for the school system, said the increase isn't random, but instead comes from a calculation the division does every year. Ballentine said he takes the county's appropriation to the school operating fund, as well as current debt service payments, and divides it by the projected average daily membership for the schools.

"We recognize there are students wanting to come to our schools who don't live in Warren County, and their families don't pay taxes here," he said. "So we asked what is fair to our taxpayers?"

The change in tuition depends both on the county appropriation to the schools' budget as well as how many students are expected to attend in a given year.

Ballentine said the tuition rate has stayed relatively stable for some time. However, since the division built two high schools and renovated Warren County Middle School, the county's debt service has increased significantly.

The projected enrollment number increased since the division saw about 100 more students attend school in the county during the 2012-2013 school year.

The Frederick County School Board approved its out-of-county tuition rate of $5,809 last month. Children of the division's employees living outside the county can attend for half that amount.

Frederick County Public Schools also have seen some increase in the rate, but at a bit more gradual pace. Since 2009, the tuition has gone up by less than $500.

Shenandoah County Public Schools used to calculate out-of-county tuition rates the same way that Warren County currently does. However, Jeremy Raley, assistant superintendent for administration and finance, said a flat rate was recently chosen.

Students not living in Shenandoah County can attend the schools for $4,000 a year. Raley said the amount was increased two years ago to "provide additional revenue to the school division."

If the Warren County School Board approves the tuition increase, Ballentine predicts that it won't affect many students. He said one student had to pay the rate last year, and only stayed for a semester. Additionally, the county offers monthly payments to help with the cost.

Students who live outside the county, but have parents working for the school division, don't have to pay out-of-county tuition.

The Warren County School Board will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday for its regularly scheduled meeting.

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com


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