Facing declining enrollments and excess capacity, the Blind Brook-Rye schools this spring marketed its schools to out-of-district families willing to pay up to $21,500 a year to send their child to one of Westchester’s elite school districts.
As schools opened in September, Blind Blind welcomed 10 full-paying tuition-paying students, says schools Superintendent Bill Stark, An additional 10 out-of-district students pay reduced tuition because one of their parents works for the district.
The new students pushed the district’s enrollment over 1,500, to 1,506, which includes 25 students in the hearing-impaired program run by Southern Westchester BOCES. Blind Brook had 1,484 students in 2012-13. Revenues of about $200,000 are expected from the new students, if they remain out-of-district for the entire year.
Some families could be considering moving to Blind Brook, so tuition payments would end once they relocated. The district is located in the town of Rye, along the Connecticut border with Greenwich.
“It turned out for us in a very positive way,” said Jonathan Ross, the district’s assistant superintendent for finance and facilities. “It’s a win-win from my perspective.”
The students came from an array of Westchester districts, as well as from Connecticut and New York City.
Ross says the students enrolled in several grade levels, so there was no impact on staffing levels. Students paying tuition will be able to continue at Blind Brook through their entire school career, if they parents continue to make the tuition bill of $19,569 for K-6, and $21,500 for grades 7-12.
Union contracts set much lower rates for faculty kids: $2,989 for K-6, and $5,014 for 7-12.
Attracting out-of-district students who pay tuition is one way to bring in revenue without raising property taxes, a pressing concern of districts constrained by the state’s 2 percent tax cap.
School board member Jeff Diamond says the response from out-of-district parents was good news for the district.
“With such a large decline in enrollment in the elementary school, it seemed that the kind of thing we could do with having a negative impact,” he said. “The revenue will be helpful. Budgets are tight.”
NOTE: This is an updated version of the story, based on schools Superintendent Bill Stark’s phone call Tuesday morning, in which he said there were 10 full tuition students. An earlier version of the story stated there were 9 students.