K-12 School budget news: Hopefully free tuition and Price of Being (and educating) a T-Hawk

Above: The Harbinger’s October issue delves into how money from taxes and student fees are used. (image from online posting of printed issue)

Recent comment debates on the blog about Algonquin’s new BYOD policy have debated priorities in the school budgets and what student families are forced to fund. Given that, two news items out of the schools seem timely:

  • Tuition-Free Kindergarten still on track for hopefully-free tuition this fall
  • A breakdown of the costs of educating Algonquin students and the extra costs some students pay

Kindergarten Tuition

This month, Superintendent Christine Johnson was disappointed to not get any “hurrahs” over an announcement to the Southborough School Committee. That was likely because it sounded a lot like her announcement last spring. Johnson said she is hopeful that the budget will allow Southborough to offer full day Kindergarten next fall without charging tuition.

The lack of excitement was likely based on all the caveats in the announcement. In her cautious style, Johnson noted that the budget process isn’t complete and that outcome isn’t certain. So stay tuned for more on that as the committees continue to prepare budgets in time for an early March Town Meeting. 

It’s worth noting that Johnson credited the progress made to the School Committee prioritizing the initiative. She pointed out that the committee’s budget priority list is a big part of determining what initiatives and resources are funded/unfunded/postponed.

That means you may be interested in keeping up to date on priorities identified for future budgets. Nothing jumped out at me from what is on the list, but there may be something some readers wish wish on the list that isn’t. You can find those here:

Algonquin’s Budgets and Student Fees

The Harbinger October 2018 cover
(click to enlarge)

I need to give a shout out to the student journalism out of our high school.

I had mistakenly thought that all of the school newspapers work these days was posted as stories on the website. In looking on the site for information on another Algonquin topic, I stumbled across the links to its latest print issue with additional stories.

Under the headline “The Price of Being a T-Hawk”, the paper’s editors write:

Between activities and class dues, every student of the class of 2019 will pay $365 by the time of graduation. Add in an optional parking permit junior and senior year, and that cost goes up to $765; if a student plays one season of a sport for four years, the price spikes up to $1,565. And if a student is a three-sport athlete for four years? Fees add up to $3,165.

The story isn’t a slam piece on the administration. It includes the school’s explanation for why fees are necessary and how they are used. It also includes perspectives from students.

The story is paired with another article that breaks down how the school committee allocates its budget of $14,890 per student. 

Those are just two of many stories in the October 2018 issue. For readers who care a lot about the school’s budget priorities and fiscal choices, it’s worth the read. It will also be of interest for people who just want to keep tabs on whats happening or being talked about in the town’s high school. You can find it online here.

If you don’t have a student at Algonquin who can take the paper home for you (or you do, but you’d still like to support the Harbinger) you can sign up to get a subscription via snail mail. Click here for information on that. (You can also check out the easy to navigate website for free. But, like I said, it won’t have all the scoops included in their print editions.)

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