Zoned Out

The problem of better school districts attracting students from outside the designated zone is not a new one — even when I was in high school, there were students whose parents lived outside the city. Some paid tuition to go to Oak Ridge High School; one that I know of moved in with his grandmother (inside the city) and visited his parents in Clinton over the weekend.

The Tennessean carries a good article this morning about Williamson County’s efforts to deal with the problem:

A Maury County family paid $16,251.50 to square up with Williamson County Schools for sending their teen to Franklin High School.

It’s the most costly example among cases in which the school district has sought tuition payments for the 2006-07 school year. The school board gave WCS attorney Jason Golden the authority last year to take people to court when they are caught sending their children to the county’s public schools but do not live in the county.

A few years ago, the State Legislature gave school systems the authority to collect back tuition amounts from families that fraudulently claim residence in a school district for the purpose of avoiding tuition payments. Simply owning property in the school district is not enough — it’s a matter of where the family sleeps at night, the primary address claimed on federal tax returns, utilities service, and other measures.

Oak Ridge does accept tuition students on a select basis as enrollment permits; the application is online (but doesn’t seem to work in Firefox for me — IE tab does).


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