NORTH BENNINGTON -- The North Bennington Prudential Committee has warned a policy amendment that will waive tuition fees for two children living outside the school district next school year.
Families have moved
The two children attended North Bennington Graded School in recent years when living in the district, but both families have since moved to Bennington prior to beginning sixth grade this fall.
Current policy only allows students living outside North Bennington Graded School District to attend the elementary school if tuition is paid by the school district in which the families currently reside. Bennington sixth graders attend Mount Anthony Union Middle School, which does not have a policy allowing it to tuition its students to another elementary school.
At a special North Bennington meeting Thursday, the Prudential Committee put into action a change of its nonresident enrollment policy that would allow any student who attended fifth grade at NBGS and then moved outside the district to return for sixth grade free of cost to both the student's family and their new school district.
"If somebody gets into the culture of this school in grade five, they deserve (the opportunity because it is) in their best interest to graduate from this school with those peers," board member Matthew Patterson said to explain the reasoning behind the proposed revision.
The policy, which was warned Friday, only requires students to attend fifth grade at NBGS to be eligible for free tuition in sixth grade. Technically, a family could live in the NBGS District much less than a full year because state law allows a student to complete a grade at a school even if they move out of the district during the academic year.
"Once you're enrolled in a school in the town that you live in, you could move the next day and you could stay in that school for that whole year, and this policy would let them finish the next year," Patterson said.
State law requires a school board warn a policy change for at least 10 days before adopting the change to allow public time to review and give feedback. By warning the policy amendment Friday, the board will be able to adopt the change at a special meeting scheduled Sept. 4, the same day school begins.
The only member of the audience at Thursday's meeting who resides in the NBGS District, Joyce Scarey, raised concerns about the policy change. Scarey said she does not believe it is right to allow families to receive public funded tuition to attend school in North Bennington when they do not pay taxes in the district.
Principal Thomas Martin said the change to the policy would affect very few families.
"Historically, we have very little turnover of our students here. It's a very small number, and a policy that restricts it to sixth grade makes that number smaller," Martin said.
Including the two out-of-district children, there are roughly 20 students entering sixth grade.
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