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Millburn Schools, Parents Battle Over-Out-of-District Tuition Policy

Online petition has more than 200 signatures.

The Millburn Board of Education and a group of concerned parents are grappling with changes to language regarding a school district policy that governs the tuition charged to students who move out of the district before completing a full term.

An online petition started by former board member Noreen Brunini wants to charge a prorated tuition to the guardian of any student whose guardian moves out of the district during the school year but whose children are allowed to finish out the school year in Millburn as a “guest, nonresident student.”

The petition currently has more than 200 signers.

Millburn Board of Ed Policy Chair Raymond Wong sent a letter to media addressing the petition.

The board, Wong said, is looking to pass a more “stringent” policy that eliminates a senior loophole allowing twelfth grade students whose parents move out of the district to finish the year in Millburn without paying tuition.

“We as a Board would like to close the loop hole for seniors immediately, and we are always open to reconsider further tightening of the policy,” Wong wrote.

The district's proposed language reads: "Students whose parent(s) or guardian(s) have moved away from the school district on or after February 1 of the current school year will be permitted to finish the school year in this district."

Officials remove a chunk of text that would also allow seniors who are forced to move from the district to continue without paying.

The change.org petition asks doesn’t specify its prefered language but talks about the potential for parents to scam the system if the district proposal is enacted.

"Ironically this proposed language eliminates a district tradition most residents agreed with and retains a policy which it appears could allow fraud to occur within the school district," Brunini wrote in the petition.

Brunini continues: "[A] student’s family could rent an apartment/home in Millburn for a few months (Sept – January 31 or longer), move on/after Feb 1 to another town but stay in district schools tuition free for the remainder of the school year. Given the District continues to refuse to annually re-register all students, the following September the student who has moved to another town can easily continue on as a student in the Millburn Schools. Charging a tuition to students who move but are given permission to finish out the school year will help the District keep track of which students moved the prior year. It is also fairest to taxpayers and resident students."

Meanwhile, Wong stressed that the board was considering the changes to improve policy.

“We as board members consider policy language as a living document and are always open to suggestions, but our duty is get things done,” Wong wrote. “Our first step is to close the senior loop hole immediately.”

Nina March 14, 2014 at 04:35 PM
Yeah, only make it retroactive! That way, you sweep in the former board members.
KLF March 15, 2014 at 01:08 AM
I can't figure out what is the hidden agenda here. What type of numbers are we even talking about?
Renay Zamloot March 15, 2014 at 08:37 AM
In many cases, these situations involve family crises. A single parent dies and the student has to move in with a relative in another town but wants to finish his senior year in his high school, a family has financial problems that require them to move to a neighboring town during their child's senior year... Charging parents/guardians tuition under these circumstances would be unconscionable. Surely the Millburn BOE has more important issues to focus on.
Nina March 15, 2014 at 09:10 AM
Thank you Renay! Your reply hit the nail on the head! It was a policy founded on compassion. Yet the Board even wants to make someone who has paid 11-1/2 years of taxes in this town pay to finish up the school year? And if they can't afford it, based on a financial crisis, they have to graduate with complete strangers? I don't understand this at all. Get a compassionate bone in your bodies, people. And yet there are other "sacred cows" in our budget that will never get touched, and even get increased! We're supposed to be a community, remember?
bartsimpson March 17, 2014 at 10:53 AM
For at least 5 years the MBSH BOE has been incapable of understanding that the 1970’s approach they continue to rely on to manage the school district is unsustainable. Every year at budget time they announce - almost as if it is a surprise - that more cuts are needed. Eventually, there will be nothing left to cut. Instead, they find fake controversies to get the community riled up about so folks don’t notice what is going on. The fact that a past BOE member who no longer has kids in school is now up in arms about this issue reveals the hypocrisy. And as others have mentioned, how much money can we possible be talking about? When are the residents in this town going to demand that the BOE provide a vision of how MBSH ought to operate a 21st century school district - not the token attempt at developing a strategic plan that was supposedly undertaken more than 2 years ago - and that the community should be heavily involved in crafting this vision. The level of denial about the genuine state of the school district is astounding.

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