New Castle News

February 26, 2014

Agreement allows nonresident students at Laurel

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Five Laurel teachers who live outside the Laurel School District have enrolled their children in the district.

They are taking advantage of a memorandum of agreement between the district and the Laurel Education Association that took effect at the beginning of the current school year.

The agreement allows teachers who do not live within the district to have their children attend the Laurel schools and have the tuition waived.

Seven children are enrolled this year: Four from Neshannock Township, one from Shenango Township and two from Butler, according to superintendent Dr. Sandra Hennon. Two students attend the high school and five attend the elementary school.

The agreement, which applies only to the district’s teachers, is separate from the four-year collective bargaining agreement with the education association that took effect Sept. 1.

Hennon said the district and the teachers began discussions on such a policy when they were involved with negotiations on the collective bargaining agreement. She said the district looked at guidelines adopted by other districts, adding that Laurel’s agreement is similar to those.

The agreement states that nonresident children shall be permitted to attend the Laurel schools with the tuition payments waived as long as at least one parent or guardian continues as an employee of the district and the child maintains residency with the employee.

The employee must keep and support the child “continuously and not merely through the school term,” the agreement states.

The district reserves the right to ask for proof of the child’s residency with the employee. Hennon said if there is a question, the district would seek affidavits for proof.

Applications for enrollment will be considered on a first–come, first-served basis. There is no set limit as to the number of students that can be enrolled. The district will accept students as long as it does not add any cost to the district, Hennon said.

The agreement states that the district will accept nonresident students if they do not affect grade level size, department size or class size that would result in the addition of staff or programs.

“We haven’t had to tell anybody no,” Hennon said.

The district will even accept special needs children, she added.

The students are registered to attend the Laurel schools and are coded in the Pennsylvania Information Management System within the Pennsylvania Department of Education as nonresident tuition waived, she said.

The state public school code allows it, she said, adding, “It’s legal to do if it’s done properly.”

Laurel receives no state reimbursement for those students, she noted.

To continue to be enrolled, the students must maintain established standards of attendance, discipline and academic performance.

Hennon said under the agreement the teachers cannot file grievances on the administration’s decisions.