New Castle News

November 30, 2013

Wilmington denies tuition benefit for teachers

Mary Grzebieniak
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Children of non-resident Wilmington teachers will not be able to attend classes in the district tuition-free.

The school board voted against introducing such a benefit at a meeting this month. President Nancy Bretz said the board had been studying the idea for about three months. The recommendation came from outgoing superintendent Dr. C. Joyce Nicksick, she said, and would have cost the district approximately $8,000 annually per participating student.

The vote was 8-1, with Carol Harris casting the lone no.

Harris said at the meeting that it costs as much to run a bus with a few children as it does for a full load and the same is true of classrooms. She acknowledged her son is one of the teachers who lives outside the district, but said she had not campaigned for the measure on his account.

Bretz said she believes a recent tuition dispute affected the board’s vote to defeat the resolution. She explained the district recently settled for payment of $50,000 in back tuition from a family that owned property in the district but did not live there. The district had gone to court to recover the money.

Bretz said the board’s feeling was, “How can we let some people have their kids come to our school and pursue back tuition against others?”

She explained Nicksick had provided information showing that in Lawrence County, only Mohawk provides this benefit to its teachers. Other nearby district that provide it include Sharon, Sharpsville and Reynolds.

The rationale for providing the benefit to non-resident teachers, according to acting superintendent Jennifer Conrad, is that they would become more invested in the district, and would have less stress coordinating their work schedules with their children’s school schedules from other districts.

It was revealed this year that three out-of-district teachers in the New Castle schools had seven children attending classes there over a four-year period without paying tuition. Bretz said while the Wilmington board was aware of that situation, it was not the impetus for the proposed policy.

The board left the door open for possible reconsideration of another similar resolution or one that might provide a reduced tuition rate for teachers.