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Decatur Schools Don't Expect Room For New Tuition Students In K-5

Enrollment growth in lower grades caused the change.

Enrollment in the lower grades has grown so much the City Schools of Decatur doesn't expect any openings for new tuition students in kindergarten through grade 5 next school year.

Decatur Associate Superintendent Thomas Van Soelen said the system will only consider tuition applications in grades 6-12 for now.

Enrollment in Decatur schools is around 3,200 and rose about 12 percent for this school year compared to about 7 percent for the previous year.

Much of the growth was in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and the lower grades, according to a Power Point presentation about enrollment calculations.

Van Soelen said the school system made the change this month so out-of-district parents who might have considered the tuition route could seek other options.

The school system webpage says, "Families with children in [grades K-5] or who need specialized services may submit applications but their applications will not be considered until this webpage indicates there is an opening in that grade or program."

Tuition students live outside the Decatur city limits; their parents pay for them to attend the City Schools of Decatur.

Van Soelen said the system now has 153 paying tuition students and 135 courtesty tuition students.

Courtesty tuition students are the children of school system employees who attend Decatur schools free, and they will not be affected by the change, Van Soelen said. Tuition for pre-K students is handled by a separate department.

The schools recently lowered tuition to $548 per month for 10 months. Previously the rate was $611 per month.

For more information about tuition and the City Schools of Decatur, visit the system's webpage at http://www.csdecatur.net/tuition.

Decaturette February 23, 2012 at 03:36 PM
I'm interested in that too. Spots should go to residents first, of course. But if possible, it would be nice not to uproot tuition children already settled into CSD. Tuition families are usually great in terms of parent participation, donations, academic performance (for those pesky CRCT benchmarks), and responsible behavior.
Ralph Ellis February 23, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Decatur Mom and JP, I'm told CSD has always taken tuition students on a year-by-year and case-by-case basis. One of the criteria that must be met, as listed on the CSD webpage about tuition, is that CSD not have to hire any new staff. With such an influx of young students, I think that will be a key determinant.
Decaturette February 23, 2012 at 05:43 PM
That approach is clear and makes sense. A repercussion of not allowing current tuition students to stay in the system will be that CSD becomes less attractive as a tuition option and tuition income will be reduced. That will be ok as long as CSD is busting at the seams with little ones but eventually that baby bolus will move through the system so enrollment will have to be carefully watched and strategically handled. In the past, CSD has reacted too quickly to population blips, up or down, that proved to be temporary or stable events, not radical long-term changes. It needs to proceed cautiously and based on reliable, appropriate, intelligently-interpreted data from multiple sources, not superficial insights. The enrollment committee was an excellent move by CSD and hopefully it will be continued. It's harder to make mistakes when many interested and concerned eyes are reviewing data and proposed decisions.
jp February 23, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I also wonder how they know at this point whether they will have extra seats or not. Unless they are planning on increasing the number of kids in each class so they are in essence overbooked, it seems like they will inevitably not come out perfectly even on teachers to students at each grade level. And that's where tuition students would fit in. If they have 15 extra students in a grade level and have to hire an extra teacher wouldn't there then be 5 (or so) empty seats? This is hopefully moot for us: We have a tuition student in Decatur this year ... but will likely be residents by next school year. One more kid for the mix, followed by a sibling in a couple years. And thanks for the shout out for tuition families, A Decatur Mom. I like to think we hit all those qualities.
Grady Parent February 24, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Mr. Ellis, can you inquire if the new $100 processing fee for returning tuition students was voted on by the board? Is this new fee or the increased application fee for new tuition students legal as a public school system? Are courtesy tuition students and the slots available to City of Decatur employees being charged these fees also? Thanks.

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