A Child's Proper School Home

January 27, 1994

School costs are a major part of the county budget and deserve the close scrutiny of officials responsible for guarding the education treasury. The Carroll County system, in fact, is rated highly by the state for its cost-effectiveness in achieving outstanding results by students.

Yet we think the county school board is being a bit miserly in its demand for tuition from families that have had to move outside county lines temporarily while trying to re-establish Carroll residency. The board's stand does not enrich the school system but it surely impoverishes the affected children who are displaced from a familiar learning environment because of bureaucratic judgments.

There is a clear difference between a Carroll family that is delayed in finding replacement housing and those permanently living across the county line who impose an unfair burden on the county's schools. The latter will give their children a decidedly inferior education anyway, through their validation of deceit and dishonesty.

The latest case of a Carroll family trying to re-establish a home in the county went before the school board this month. The family was moving from one Carroll home to another, but construction delays caused it to temporarily rent a home a quarter-mile across the county line; that circumstance ran the family afoul of the board's policy, which allows a 90-day grace period but no more.

The Charles Frase family asked the school board to adopt a one-year grace period. The board refused and will charge them tuition back to last year if their two children continue at Manchester Elementary. This despite the fact that the Frases still pay Carroll property taxes. The parents had, unfortunately, concealed their move in hopes that the Carroll board would change its policy.

School employees say such cases are not rare, that parents residing elsewhere have various reasons for wanting to educate their children in Carroll County. Indeed, officials should crack down on those seeking a free ride.

At the same time, however, we urge Carroll school authorities to be a bit more flexible, to examine the intent of the parents and the full circumstances, and to adopt a more charitable view toward the well-being of children forced out of their home school through no fault of their own.

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