Thursday, February 23, 2017


The Board of Education is expected to boost its tuition payments for South Orange/Maplewood students to attend out-of-district schools by 25% in the 2017-2018 school year, according to recent budget documents.

That marks a sharp increase in the money paid to other schools to teach our students. The district funded 199 students for out-of-district education in 2016, according to data provided through an Open Public Records Act request. That cost us $11.9 million, or about $60,000 per student.

The per-student payments for out-of-district tuition is well above the $18,000 per student spent on those that attend class in district schools. 

That is the latest in a continued increase in such numbers dating back to 2013 when 156 student went elsewhere. That rose to 180 in 2014, and 191 in 2015. 

District Business Administrator Paul Roth, during his budget presentation on Jan. 30, estimated the district would pay for about 250 students to go outside the district in 2017-2018. No specific monetary estimate has been made, but it is likely to boost the budget significantly.

The out-of-district tuition is paid for a variety of reasons, ranging from vocational education to special education and other mandated services. 

Asked to provide more specifics, Roth sent this email to several weeks ago:

To help clarify the information contained in the response to your OPRA request, tuition costs cover students receiving special education and 504 services out of district as well as students attending Vo-Tech schools. Since much of this information regards our students I cannot get more specific. The amounts listed are actual prior year expenditures and range in the overall cost do amount into the millions.

When we asked last week for further explanation of the expected increase and other details of how the money is used and why the district did not respond. 

One indication of where the money goes was found in a resolution the board approved on Jan. 30 for nearly $318,000 worth of outside tuition. 

See that resolution and the schools receiving the funding below:

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