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Morristown and Heuvelton consider tuitioning agreement

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Morristown Central School is considering paying tuition for students to attend school in Heuvelton in an effort to reduce costs and increase the quality of education offered in each district.

The conversation surrounding tuitioning is still 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 forming a regional high school.

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

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

Ms. Bailey said Hermon-DeKalb Central School has backed out of the discussion following push-back from its board of education.

Hermon-DeKalb Central School Superintendent Ann M. Adams could not be reached to comment.

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

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

The arrangement would see high school students from Morristown taking classes at Heuvelton Central School. The Morristown Central School 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, with a true value tax rate of $19.90 per $1,000 of property value, is higher than Morristown, which has a true value tax rate of $14.34.

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 impact on the two communities, how the school buildings will be used, what sorts of programing advantages will be offered and how tuitioning will impact staffing levels.

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

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