Non-resident students of the Germantown Municipal School District who live in Shelby County will not have to pay tuition in the 2019-2020 school year, the board decided Tuesday.
Whether they will have to pay the following year, 2020-2021, will be considered at a September school board meeting.
The action represents an about-face from an earlier discussion that would have required even those non-resident students living in-county to pay. Students living outside the county were previously assessed tuition and will continue to pay.
Students who are the children of faculty and staff are exempt from tuition.
Superintendent Jason Manuel said tuition will not be assessed for the 2019-2020 school year because any changes require two readings by the board before they can be approved, and board members did not feel comfortable encouraging students to apply if tuition might be imposed after they applied.
The only change that went into effect Tuesday night is at the elementary and middle school levels. The district had already said that it would accept fewer transfers next year and that non-residents would not exceed 20 percent of enrollment at those grade levels.
The originally proposed policy would have required students living outside Germantown to pay to attend a GMSD school, even if they were Shelby County residents. In Germantown, the district has five students living outside the county and two students living outside the state.
Collierville is the only other municipal school district in the county that requires students outside the city limits living in Shelby County to pay.
Students living in the state outside the county each pay $4,400, said Kevin Jones, chief financial officer. Out-of-state students pay $8,800 each. That amount makes up for state funding the county does not give to the district for non-residents.
The district has 795 non-resident transfer students, and 130 of them are teachers’ children.
After 30 minutes of discussion in the work session Tuesday, the board voted to wait to discuss the implications of the proposed requirement.
“I wanted us to have a full conversation about what the implications would be,” school board chairwoman Rebecca Luter said after Linda Fisher asked why the board was discussing this now.
“I think it’s worth the discussion,” board member Amy Eoff added. “We have had the discussion about tuition since the inception of the district.”
“I think as we were right-sizing the district, this is a good time to discuss this,” Fisher said.
The state gives money based on students who are in the district. The district has had fewer non-resident transfers and plans to accept fewer next year. The loss of students will mean a loss of money in the district. The hope is that this policy will help offset that loss.
The district had 390 transfers at Houston High School. If each student paid $411, the district would receive $160,290.
Manuel said he is not opposed to tuition but he was concerned if it affected the enrollment numbers at the district’s lone high school, as about 23 percent of students are nonresidents.
All resident and nonresident transfers at the elementary and middle school levels will have to reapply, according to Chauncey Bland, executive director of student services. The open enrollment period is January 28 through February 8. All students will have to apply online.