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Should Out-Of-District Families Pay Tuition to Send Their Kids to University Place Schools?

An idea proposed by a University Place school board member to charge out-of-district tuition is leading to more questions in the structure of the regional school system.

If families outside of University Place really want their kids to attend school here, should they pay for the opportunity?

That’s the question many are asking, after the idea of charging tuition to out-of-district students was proposed by school board member Annie Fitzsimmons at last week’s regular meeting.

Out-of-town students make up approximately one-fifth (20 percent) of the University Place School District, which has about 5,600 enrolled students this year.

The high-achievement programs and facilities in UP attract families from all over the area, like Tacoma, Lakewood, Steilacoom and Franklin Pierce districts. State law gives parents the option to send their children into a different school district if they met certain criteria.

Fitzsimmons argued that UP taxpayers are subsidizing the education of children from other cities and asked the school board and Attorney General to weigh in on the issue. The average homeowner in University Place pays about $8.13 per month, or under $100 per year in extra levy dollars from out-of-district students, according to numbers provided by the district. 

On the other hand, out-of-district students bring more funding dollars and revenue sources to the district from the federal and state levels and generate state levy equalization dollars, which brings over $3 million to the district.

Read more on this issue in The Tacoma News Tribune.

With a newly minted 4A State Championship basketball team, competitive arts, AP and language programs, it’s easy to see why families from out of town want to be part of UP.

Do you think that out-of-district students should pay tuition to attend University Place schools? Tell us in the comments.

Leah Keenon March 04, 2013 at 04:56 PM
I reside within the city of University Place.... but my children are assigned to the Tacoma School District. I am right on that cusp. We purchased the new construction home in 2001 with the impression that it was being assigned to the UP school district- since it used to be a non residential area. Had my first child in 2002 and now every year I have to fill out the paperwork to release and request placement... a very stressful time of year! I pay my taxes- just like the rest of the city... I vote for my council members.... and city issues... but I am a Tacoma School District household. SO FRUSTRATING! Tuition? I'd rather not!! Am I not paying Taxes as it is?
sandi larson March 04, 2013 at 05:55 PM
The out-of-district kids in UP are well over the documented amount stated. Their taxes do not go to UP school district but to their school district. Why should UP tax payers be required to keep upgrading our schools to be bigger and better than what our own residents need. If the out-of-district kids want to come to our school, then their school taxes should follow them to UP schools so the residence of UP don't have to subsidize them. What we receive from the government for them for sure will be gone soon with all the cuts congress is making so what then? Are the residents of UP going to have cover those cuts with more taxes? Patty Banks has put the school district in a corner with no way except for more taxes to UP residents. Just wait -- it will be just around the corner, and then "heads will roll" !
Jennie Martinez March 04, 2013 at 06:19 PM
As long as all the residents of University Place are moved into the district, I favor the tuition fee idea.
Lance Orloff March 04, 2013 at 09:12 PM
I sympathize with Leah Keenan. She does not want to pay the tuition and she does not want to pay the $8.13 per month or $100 that we UP School District residents are paying so that her children can go to UP Schools. Of course, this is dependant upon Pierce County Property Tax being assessed as a school levy based upon the school district we live in. I also sympathize with UP School District rabidly salivating over the $3 million in federal funds which appears is being cut out anyway because John Boehner's sequestration desire and his "fat-cat" orchestra won't figure out their place. But Really? $109267.20 in UP residents tax dollars going to fund out of towners going to our schools? Why should we have to foot the bill for people who are afraid to commit to living in UP? I don't mind my tax dollars going to fund education for residents of my city even if I choose to keep my children in private schools to avoid the dangerous situations that I have had to complain to the cops about (gun threats, public display of drunkenness and drug sale activity, cops supporting a dangerous girl because she is related to the prosecuting attorney which is corruption that directly threatened my child, violence against my child by a known abusive girl who was protected because of her connection to the school - more corruption, etc................).
Sandy McKenzie March 05, 2013 at 02:25 AM
I, too, am a UP resident but live in the Tacoma SD. I was told by everyone (including the person that sold us the house) that we were in UPSD, so now I also go through the ridiculousness of the out of district transfer every year (which TSD has managed to make a complete pain in the rear end). I believe that I'm paying more in taxes than UPSD residents (I'm paying over $5000/yr now in my home assessed at $325,000). Granted, my school district dollars go to Tacoma, but the rest of them go to UP. My kids participate in UP Parks & Rec programs (which my tax dollars help pay for). If they went to Tacoma schools, they wouldn't know anyone they play sports with. As a UP resident, I would like to see the UP school board start fighting to get all of the UP residents into the UP school district. It's been fought in the courts a few times over the years, but Tacoma has always succeeded in keeping UP students because they say they can't afford to lose our tax dollars. Ironically, TSD recently proposed sending Foss students to Curtis HS because they were facing having to close schools because they couldn't afford all of the students that they have. This makes no sense. Give UP their students and let Tacoma keep their students. If I have to pay taxes, I'd like them to stay in the town I live in.
Terry Larson March 05, 2013 at 04:06 AM
Let's be clear, non district households do not pay one penny towards UP School district levies and bonds. That means UP School district taxpayers subsidize non district students at a cost of over $900,000 a year, and that does not include the soft costs or the many non district students that faulsify their residency. Pati Banks (superintendant) stated that she was informed by the State to expect over $900,000 less next year to run the school. Furthermore, she informed the school board at the last meeting that because of the Sequester she would be using reserves to make up the difference. Currently, there is no mechanism in place to make non district students pay at least what UP School District taxpayers are paying. As the Federal and State governments continue to cut back on funding UP School District taxpayers will be forced into subsidizing non districts students even more. The UP School District Board and Superintendant are painting the UP tax payers into a corner we won't be able to get out of. Let's get back to the close intimate school district we had when I started at UP Elementary and graduated from Curtis High in 1972. Let's make it simpler and less expensive for the taxpayers that the School Board and Superintendant serve.
Christina March 05, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Lets let university place property owners vote on it...soon !
kishwar March 06, 2013 at 04:23 AM
University Place Residents should not pay a penny for out of district students. I was not aware when I voted yes for our schools that my tax dollars are funding another school district. I like Christina's idea-Let property owners vote on it.
Terry Larson March 06, 2013 at 05:21 PM
The only way to make it happen is to attend the school board meetings and/or contact OUR board members that are supposed to represent OUR best interest.
Christina March 06, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Again let Up property owners vote, then be armed with results and go to these meetings. I am so sick of our city leaders doing what they want and not what the majority wants. What does one do, set up a table in front of Safeway and get people to sign. I am pissed enough to do it !!
Amanda March 19, 2013 at 09:18 PM
I wouldn't know how to vote. I live in the city- I pay the high taxes of UP- but I don't live in the school district- I don't want to pay tuition too.
Lance Orloff March 20, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Amanda, you don't pay the University Place school tax like the rest of us. It is only fair that you contribute to the cost of the thing you receive. The alternative is to forbid you to send your kids here so you don't get something without paying for it. I understand that if are in the Tacoma School District, you are paying for Tacoma Schools. I am in the UP School District but I send my kids to private school because of all the problems I see in the UP Schools (see my earlier post). I want something better and am willing to pay tuition to get it. You want something better but have just stated you don't want to pay for it. That is not fair or equitable.

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