Fresh off finalization of the separation agreement between Baldwin County schools and Gulf Shores schools, the city has announced its policy for accepting out-of-district students.
“It will be $1,500 for the first student and $1,000 for subsequent students within the same family,” Gulf Shores Superintendent Dr. Matt Akin said.
Akin said the figure was arrived at by looking at property taxes collected in incorporated areas that are earmarked for schools.
“The amount was based on that it’s a little over $1,000 in county revenue which will not be received because students live outside of the city,” Akin said. “When I say county revenue, I mean county property tax. If a person lives in Fort Morgan and is not in the city, his parents would pay $1,000 in property taxes, approximately, that would go to the county which we’ll never see in Gulf Shores. That was the starting point for how much tuition do we charge.”
During the first year of operation, students from the areas of Fort Morgan not inside Gulf Shores city limits will have the first shot at classroom space.
“There is a clause in there that gives priority to students who do have logistical hardships,” Akin said.
Whether or not they can be admitted will solely depend on whether there is room left after all resident students have been enrolled. Faculty and staff who live outside the city limits of Gulf Shores will be allowed to enroll their children tuition-free.
“At the end of the day it’s still going to depend on capacity and in what grade level will we have room for,” Akin said.
According to Board President Kevin Corcoran, there are 166 students who have a Gulf Shores ZIP code but are not within the city limits. This includes any students from Fort Morgan, the Plash Island area and along County Roads 6 and 8. Officials are still determining what the capacity of each school will be for the fall session.
Starting next year, returning out-of-district students will have the first shot at classroom space but, again, only if there is room after enrolling all of those in the district.
“We were hearing from parents, if I enroll in year one will it get me all the way through?” Akin said. “Does that automatically mean they’ll be accepted in fourth grade, fifth grade? We couldn’t guarantee that. We did give students who were enrolled outside the district in the prior year first priority for the subsequent years.”
Gulf Shores will be taking applications for out-of-district students from April 1-30. It costs $100 to apply and if the applicant is accepted, that money will go toward the student’s first-year tuition. If rejected, $50 will be refunded.
In Satsuma, Superintendent Bart Reeves says his system has about 400 students from outside the city. Tuition for the upcoming year will be $950 for the first child, $700 for the second and $50 for each additional child. There is no variation of fees between elementary, middle or high schools.
“When considering out-of-district students, we review their transcript, discipline records and attendance,” Reeves said. “Satsuma city employees are allowed to enroll their children tuition-free.”
Chickasaw has a much more lenient fee — $160 for the first year and nothing after that. There are currently 79 out-of-district students enrolled in Chickasaw.
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