Leaving no fiscal stone unturned, the Payson School Board revisited their policy on charging tuition for foreign exchange students at its Aug. 26 meeting.
At issue is whether to increase the exchange student tuition from $5,000 to $6,800.
The board agreed to leave the fee at $5,000.
By contrast, students from other districts who attend schools like Pine and Strawberry pay $6,800. Last year, the board decided to charge less to keep costs down for the exchange students to stay in line with what other Arizona school districts charge exchange students.
Edie Miller, the local representative for the Education First (EF) exchange program, returned this year to lobby for the lower tuition and seek waivers for half of the students.
“I don’t know if you know, but what parents pay for their students to come to our school is quite significant,” said Miller. “They pay for clothing, school supplies, and parents usually give them an allowance of $300 per month.”
Miller said those costs are on top of the program costs, fees and transportation, which run in the thousands of dollars.
Her request prompted board member Jim Quinlan to ask, “How would we answer the critics who would say we are charging less than students in our own county that come from Pine and Strawberry?”
But Miller sent that ball back into the board’s court.
“That is hard for me to answer because it is a board policy,” said Miller.
Devin Wala suggested, “I would like to see us support the program, instead of paying full tuition, for free we could afford to have 11 students,” he said. “Once we reach 11, charge the higher tuition.”
Miller cautioned that exchange students that pay more than $6,000 prefer to go to England.
The board agreed with the suggestion and decided not to allow any exchange students to attend for free.
Miller also asked the board to clarify a few other points including:
• The high school will offer four slots.
• The PUSD policy requires the sponsor to prove the student has English proficiency. Miller had never proved that before, she wondered if the board wanted to enforce that provision.
• Miller also sought a clarification on whether the district would only accept full-time students.
• Miller also strongly suggested the district continue to only accept students from programs that had a local liaison. She said she has had to attend to numerous health emergencies and mediated in disciplinary issues.
The board left it to Hitchcock to rewrite and clarify.
“I think with the change of the actual policy we would put it back on Ron — we don’t do a regulation,” said Underwood.