NY district cherry picks kids

Jun 23, 2013 by

RYE BROOK, N.Y. (AP) — Tucked into the leafy suburbs north of New York City, the Blind Brook-Rye public school district seems to have it all: state-of-the-art classrooms, high test scores and an enviable record of sending graduates to college, including many in the Ivy League.

What it hasn’t always had in recent years is enough students. So to keep from laying off teachers and cutting back programs, the district is embarking on a plan to recruit from neighboring districts whose families are willing to pay tuition of more than $20,000 a year — to a public school.

‘‘We believe we have something that’s highly attractive, and to use a business term, ‘marketable,’’’ said Superintendent William Stark, whose 1,500-student district has one grade school, one middle school and one high school.

In a glossy brochure sent to neighboring districts, Blind Brook touts class sizes in the low 20s, 16 Advanced Placement courses, a top-100 ranking for its high school by U.S. News and World Report and award-winning Model UN, Mock Trial and math teams.

Outside students will be accepted only in grades where there’s enough room to add students without hiring another teacher. And they’ll have to arrange their own transportation.

‘‘If we get one or two dozen, that’s a quarter- to a half-million dollars,’’ said Stark, whose district’s annual budget is $41 million. ‘‘That can make the difference in offering another program or keeping a teacher or two, or maybe even lowering somebody’s taxes.’’

Actively recruiting tuition-paying students from nearby districts is rare, but experts say it’s a testament to the financial squeeze on public schools at a time of tax caps, tapped-out homeowners and dwindling government aid.

‘‘School districts are all pinched and most are looking at ways they can trim,’’ said Patte Barth of the National School Board Association. ‘‘They’re increasing class size. They’re laying off staff as a last resort. We do hear about some districts thinking creatively, and this is one.’’

via NY district recruits students from other schools – Education – Boston.com.

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