Many public school systems across the country offer admission to students outside their district, but there’s a catch: tuition.
While most school districts typically charge between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars for a transfer student, some districts are charging families upwards of $10,000 while marketing themselves as private school alternatives.
The Rye Brook school district in Westchester made news last month when it began advertising open slots in its public schools that would cost parents $21,500 a year for middle and high school students. According to CBS New York, Rye Brook is using direct mailings to market the district’s public schools over a 15-mile radius around the town.
“You get a first-rate education. You hear about charter schools. You hear about private schools. You hear about parochial schools. This is just another option,” the district’s school board president told CBS.
CBS notes that due to the district’s proximity to Greenwich, Conn., “it’s a sure bet that come fall some of the students arriving in Rye Brook will be from out of state.”
On the other side of the country, the Riverdale school district in a suburb outside Portland, Ore. currently charges $11,900 for a year of high school, close to double what the state pays to educate a student, according to the Oregonian. The school currently has 120 students paying tuition, making up 20% of its $6.5 million budget.
The Oregonian reports that Riverdale school leaders see themselves in competition with private schools for out of district students, and that most of their students paying tuition chose the public school over private options.
“We’re attracting students that have both a desire to get the education we offer as well as the means,” the superintendent of another expensive Oregon school district told the Oregonian.
The most recent district to jump on this trend is Lovejoy, a top school district in Texas. ABC’s headline for the news — “For Sale: Seat at ‘Exemplary’ School for $10,000” — sums up what for many is the appeal of buying in to a district: reputation and resources.
The superintendent for the Lovejoy schools underscored the financial motivations of the district’s choice, telling ABC, “School districts are a lot like the airline industry … When you fly full aeroplanes, they make money. When the planes aren’t full, they don’t. And the schools are like that, too.”
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