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Hartselle wants fees for out-of-district students upfront

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — If you are the parent of an out-of-district student and you have been paying tuition fees on installments, change is on the way.

A unanimous school board introduced an amendment Monday night to require that all out-of-district fees be paid when students register. No matter the reasons, the fees will now be non-refundable, the amendment states.

"This will only affect a few people and we have let them know about the change," said Hartselle Superintendent William Michael Reed.

About 600 of Hartselle's 3,000 students reside outside the city limits. The system charges $200 per student with a maximum charge of $600 for students in Morgan County, and $400 per student with a maximum charge of $1,200 for non-county residents.

Out-of-district students have been the center of much discussion since Hartselle started talking about constructing a new high school. Opponents of a tax increase said there would be no need for a new school as the board eliminated the more than 170 out-of-district students at the high school.

Reed has said eliminating non-residential students will not eliminate the need for a new high school because Hartselle has old facilities.

Hartselle High, for example, does have vocational and technical programs that are in tune with today's world.

In another amendment to the out-of-district policy, the board reversed a 2002 decision to allocate a portion of out-of-district money for technology.

"Rather than do this by policy, we're going to make this a budgetary item," Reed said.

Beginning in 2002, the board policy generated between $60,000 and $66,000 to technology. The board decided to do this because 47 percent of the school system's 714 computers in 2002 were 5-years-old or older. At the time, about 60 percent of the computers in the system could not run Internet technology.

That situation no longer exists in the Hartselle system. The board has made significant changes, and although the policy is changing, school officials said they are committed to keeping up with the latest technology.

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