New Castle News

Laurel

February 28, 2014

Our Opinion: Giving Laurel teachers free tuition is inherently unfair

NEW CASTLE — Whenever government hands out perks to its own, red flags are raised.

And arguments that they cost taxpayers nothing can ring a little hollow.

So it is with word non-resident teachers in the Laurel school system will now be able to send their children to the district tuition-free. The agreement between the district and the local teachers union has taken effect for the current school year.

What the agreement does is create a special benefit for teachers within the district that other people do not enjoy. If other non-residents want to send their children to Laurel schools, they are required to pay tuition.

The purpose of such tuition is tied to the fact Pennsylvania will not provide a school district with the normal state education subsidy to cover the cost of educating a non-resident student. Without that state support, tuition is necessary — or else taxpayers of the district wind up footing the bill for that student via their property taxes. Such a scenario is obviously unfair.

But somehow, that concern seems to vanish when school district employees are the beneficiaries. What has happened at Laurel is that people within the school system have carved out an exception that benefits only others within the system. No matter the rationalizations offered, this is fundamentally wrong.

Laurel’s superintendent Dr. Sandra Hennon told the New Castle News that the program is open to teachers and their children on a first-come, first-served basis. Right now, seven children of five teachers are participating.

Hennon indicated that while there is no set figure, the district is capping the number of non-resident students it will take for free. The limiting factor, The News was told, is that these students cannot cost the district anything.

But is it really possible to calculate that? After all, state subsidies are not granted or denied to districts based on whether or not a given student adds to a district’s costs. That’s not how cost per student is measured in any credible manner.

For instance, using this yardstick, why couldn’t the Laurel district offer free attendance to all non-residents (regardless of employer) until some theoretical threshold is reached?

Laurel officials may be trying to craft a system that’s convenient for their employees. That’s all well and good — until it has the effect of creating a special class of citizens that enjoys perks that are not available to others.

That’s not how government is supposed to work. And when it does, it’s just one more way for government to separate itself from the people.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Laurel
  • Laurel vacancies filled

    Vacancies within the Laurel School District are being filled prior to the start of school next month.

    July 18, 2014

  • Laurel to have multi-class reunion

    A multi-class reunion celebrating the 25-year anniversary for Laurel’s classes of 1987 through 1991 is set for Sept. 13.

    July 14, 2014

  • Laurel board approves budget

    The Laurel School Board has adopted a $17.8 million budget for the 2014-15 school year. The $17,849,586 spending plan requires no tax increase. It represents a $361,496 increase over the current year’s budget.

    June 19, 2014 1 Story

  • Laurel names secondary principal

    The Laurel School Board hired Mark Frengel as secondary principal of student affairs. Frengel will receive a salary of $88,000 for the 2014-15 school year.

    June 19, 2014

  • Laurel class of ’74 planning reunion

    The 40-year anniversary reunion for Laurel’s Class of 1974 has been set for July 19.

    June 18, 2014

  • Laurel budget proposal has no tax increase

    The Laurel School Board has introduced a $17.8 million budget that requires no tax increase. The $17,849,586 spending plan for the 2014-15 school year is $361,496 higher than the current year’s.

    May 15, 2014

  • Laurel Class of ’74 to hold reunion

    Members of Laurel High School’s Class of 1974 will celebrate their 40th anniversary this summer.

    April 11, 2014

  • Laurel OKs positions

    The Laurel School Board approved the employment of three instructors for additional duties this week.

    April 9, 2014

  • Cooper.tiff Laurel hires Cooper as new football coach

    Laurel High has found its man. Brian Cooper replaces Pat Cuba at the helm of the Spartans football program. Cuba resigned last month after leading the Spartans to a 7-3 record and the program’s first playoff appearance since 2009.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • gavel.jpg Forbes appointed to Laurel board

    Blaine Forbes has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the Laurel School Board. Forbes, who previously served on the board, was approved Monday by a unanimous vote of the eight board members.

    March 25, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Poll

Would you want to know what your pet is thinking about you?

Yes! I'd love to know what my pet is thinking.
Nah, it's probably not that interesting.
I don't know. I'm afraid of what I might find out.
     View Results