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Morristown, Heuvelton consider tuitioning agreement

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MORRISTOWN — In an effort to reduce costs and increase the quality of education offered in each district, Morristown Central School is considering paying tuition for high schoolers to attend classes at Heuvelton Central.

The conversation surrounding tuitioning is in its infancy, Morristown Board of Education member Mary Anne Bailey said, but the two districts are interested.

Earlier this year, Hermon-DeKalb, Heuvelton and Morristown central schools conducted a $30,000 feasibility study into the potential cost savings from the three districts forming a regional high school.

But because no state law exists allowing a regional high school configuration, and because a merger would require another feasibility study, tuitioning appears to offer the best near-term solution, Ms. Bailey said.

“We feel as though we’re never going to have the (regional high school) legislation,” Morristown board Vice President W. Darrell Merkel said. “So why spend any more time on regionalization?”

Ms. Bailey said Hermon-DeKalb backed out of the discussion following push-back from its board. Hermon-DeKalb Superintendent Ann M. Adams could not be reached for comment.

Heuvelton Superintendent Susan E. Todd confirmed that Hermon-DeKalb is “ready to take a step back.”

Mrs. Todd said a tuitioning arrangement between Morristown and Heuvelton would be advantageous to both school districts.

The agreement would see high school students from Morristown taking classes at Heuvelton. The Morristown district would be responsible for paying tuition to Heuvelton.

Mrs. Todd said tuitioning would work better than a full merger of the districts because the tax rate in Heuvelton, at $19.90 per $1,000 of property value, is higher than in Morristown, which has a tax rate of $14.34 per $1,000.

If Morristown were to merge with Heuvelton, it would mean an increase in taxes for Morristown residents.

Morristown Superintendent David J. Glover said the schools need to look into what a tuitioning agreement would entail before taking further steps.

Mr. Glover said the districts will need to determine transportation costs, the effect on the two communities, how the school buildings will be used, what sorts of programing advantages will be offered and how tuitioning would affect staffing levels.

Mrs. Todd said she plans to discuss tuitioning with her district’s school board when it meets Aug. 28.

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