Tuition increase proposed for out-of-district students in Florence One

April 5, 2019

FLORENCE, S.C. – Superintendent Richard O’Malley suggested Thursday that the Florence One Schools Board of Trustees raise tuition by almost $3,000 for out-of-district students during the 2019-20 school year.

This school year, out-of-district families paid $550 for their students. O’Malley suggested the district raise the tuition to $3,585. The proposed number is based on law for what a district is allowed to charge for out-of-district students, O’Malley said.

Each year, the district decides if it wants to accept more students and then calculates a tuition rate.

Currently, there are about 153 students who are from out of the district. This number does not include 93 out-of-district students who are the children of district employees and receive a tuition waiver.

O’Malley said if the board were to approve the increase in tuition to $3,585, then the tuition money from all of the out-of-district students would total more than $500,000. He said the money could be used for something such as giving a four percent raise to assistant principals, custodians and bus drivers because this would be reoccurring money the district could use.

During the discussion on the tuition, some board members expressed concern with the increase.

Board member Alexis Pipkins suggested raising the tuition 10 percent in the first year and exempting the current out-of-district students .

“I just have a problem with such a drastic increase in tuition,” Pipkins said.

Vice Chairwoman Trisha Caulder said she thinks the district is not ready to go to the $3,585 tuition rate, but she thinks the district must think of its own interest.

“Let’s remember we are not stopping these children from getting an education,” Caulder said. “They still have a home school district. We have to look at our own interests.”

Several members said there should be some increase in tuition rates because $550 is too low.

Bryan Chapman suggested that the board create a committee to discuss a tuition rate that is somewhere in between the current number and the proposed number. Next week, the board will look at a dollar amount for the tuition rate.

Also during the discussion some board members expressed concern about overcrowding in some of the schools.

Chairman Barry Townsend said the district can’t keep feeding kids into schools that are overcrowded, and if something isn’t done, the district may need to look at rezoning because two of the three high schools are overcrowded and there’s room at Wilson for more students.

“As someone who lives on the west side of town, but chooses to send my kids to Williams and Wilson, frankly, I’m more than willing to have that conversation,” Townsend said. “If that’s what it takes to keep our kids safer.”