Trustees debate tuition waivers for staff children

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Although no action was taken, Kalispell Public Schools trustees provided input last week about waiving tuition for out-of-district students whose parents are district employees.

Superintendent Mark Flatau brought up the talking point at the board meeting following months of discussions in the policy committee.

Typically out-of-district students pay $150 tuition to attend high school or $350 to attend elementary school in Kalispell. Tuition is meant to recoup a portion of money that would otherwise be paid to schools through taxes.

Flatau said the topic came to light after a staff member and parent living outside the district requested tuition waivers. What was discovered is that some employees had been granted tuition waivers for their children to attend Kalispell Public Schools while others continued to pay.

“This coming fall we have to ensure all staff are being treated the same in regard to out-of-district tuition,” Flatau said.

The policy relating to tuition waivers will need to be rewritten to either offer tuition waivers for all out-of-district employees’ children — or not.

While some trustees favored the waivers as a perk for employees, other trustees such as Mary Ruby did not. Trustees also debated whether or not the district has the authority to offer waivers to staffers only and not all out-of-district families.

“We can rewrite the policy, but I think we should be prepared for the backlash,” Ruby said, from parents who are not staffers or staffers who are not parents.

Discussion will continue at the next policy committee meeting at 8:30 a.m. today in the central office.

Currently there are 19 out-of-district students attending elementary schools in Kalispell, 77 attending Kalispell Middle School and 125 attending Flathead or Glacier high schools. More research is needed to find out how many of those out-of-district students have their tuition waived.


Hilary Matheson is a reporter for The Daily Inter Lake. She may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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