Out Of Counties Stay

Much like the summer storms that pass through this time of year, the debate on out of county kids attending Loudon County school raged on for a very short time and has now passed. But as the clouds cleared and the sun came back out, not much has changed.

Board members, at the recommendation of Loudon County Director Of Schools Wayne Honeycutt, voted to allow all current out of county students to stay in the system and complete their educational career in Loudon County. And on top of that the county will continue to accept more new out of county students thru the 2010-2011school year if they already have a sibling in our system. Conservative estimates of the number of out of county students in our system is around 200 but that figure is probably much higher.

Of course the driver behind this discussion is the same as always, MONEY. Is it fair that Loudon County tax payers should have to pay to educate children from other counties? According to Honeycutt, yes. In fact he maintains that it's a money maker for the county when you factor in the state money we get per student in the system. Not sure how you square that when you see the over crowding issues in nearly all of our schools. I'll leave that to him to explain that one.

For me, out of county is the wrong phrase. I am of the opinion that regardless of ones county of residence, if they own property and pay property taxes in Loudon County they are entitled to avail themselves of our county services including our school system. With that in mind, my first recommendation was to eliminate all of out of county/non-property owners students before the beginning of the upcoming school year. No support for that idea. My second proposal was to not take any more out of county/non-property owners students, to allow the current out of county/non-property owners students to stay in the system to complete their education career and charge the maximum annual tuition allowed which would be around $3,000.00. The $3,000.00 tuition fee would also be charged for the children of out of county school employees. Guess what? No support for that one either. So we've got what we've got.

Now that the board has adopted an out of county student policy I think we should also adopt an out of county employee policy much like the student policy. We'll keep what we've got but we won't hire anymore out of county employees. Given that well over 200 of the school system employees live outside Loudon County, that could go a long way in helping Loudon County's unemployment rate.

If you follow any of the local education news at all, you've probably noticed one reoccurring theme that emerges clearly. You can never cut anything from public education.