Kingsport BOE approves tuition break

Rick Wagner • Jun 13, 2013 at 2:49 PM

KINGSPORT — City and city school system employees living outside the municipal limits but in Tennessee will get a break on city school tuition for their children starting in 2013-14.

The tuition break would range from slightly less than half to more than half, although the break for residents of the county outside the city would be exactly half or $600 a year.

The Board of Education voted 4-0 with one absent Thursday night to approve the change, which Superintendent Lyle Ailshie recommended.

“I do think it’s a good move,” Ailshie said during the meeting, when the board approved the change on one reading.

The change means that Kingsport City Schools and city employees who live in Sullivan County will pay half the normal tuition for those living in Sullivan County but outside Kingsport, Communications Editor Marybeth McLain and Finance Director David Frye said Friday.

The change also means that those who live outside Sullivan County but in Tennessee would pay the normal Sullivan County tuition, they said.

Since the normal Sullivan County tuition is $1,200, that means a city or KCS employee living in Colonial Heights or Blountville would pay $600 in tuition instead of the regular $1,200.

And since the normal tuition for Sullivan County students — those in non-city Sullivan and in Bristol, Tenn. — is $1,200, those living in any other Tennessee county would pay $1,200 instead of the $2,200 tuition for Hawkins County and $3,200 for Washington County or any other Tennessee county.

Frye said the reason for the differences is that local education funding for Sullivan County and Hawkins County, since Kingsport has a presence in them, follows the students.

In contrast, money from Washington County and other counties in Tennessee doesn’t follow the students into Kingsport.

And the policy doesn’t apply to any employees living in Virginia. Tuition for Virginia students in the city system would be about $10,000 a year, Frye said.

Ailshie said the idea for the policy, which has come up twice since he’s began heading the school system, would not affect that many students and employees and initially would cut down on tuition income for the system.

Eventually, however, he predicted the change would mean more money for the system in tuition as it might help encourage City of Kingsport and Kingsport City Schools employees to put their children in city schools and might even be a recruiting tool for attracting employees.

“I expect it not to be a net loss of revenue,” Ailshie said.

Frye said that about $6,800 in additional state and county revenue would follow students from non-city Sullivan County into Kingsport, and about $5,800 would follow non-Kingsport Hawkins students into Kingsport.

For 2012-13, tuition payment revenue came in at about $315,000 compared to an estimate of $360,000. Frye said the 2013-14 revenue estimate was lowered to $320,000.

BOE member Susan Lodal, before making a motion to approve the proposal, said the idea has been discussed throughout the years and that she is glad the board is moving forward for making it an option.

“Kingsport City employees and City of Kingsport employees who live in Sullivan County and have tuition students in the school system will pay one-half (1/2) the tuition rate charged for Sullivan County residents,” the changed policy reads.

“Kingsport City Schools employees and the City of Kingsport employees who live outside of Sullivan County and have tuition students in the school system will pay only the Sullivan County tuition rate regardless of the county of residence.”

For more information on tuition for city schools, go to www.k12k.com.

Other school system tuition rates in the region, effective as of 2012-13, include an in-Washington County rate of $1,600 and $2,100 outside for Johnson City; an in-Sullivan County rate of $700 for Bristol, Tenn.; an in-Greene County rate of $1,075 for Greeneville; and an in-Carter County rate of $700 for grades K-5 and $300 in grades 6-12 for Elizabethton.

Northeast Tennessee News Service reporter Madison Mathews contributed to this report.

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