Flour Bluff ISD Officials Attempt To Explain Tuition Break For Out-Of-District Students
Matt Briscoe \
The Southside Light
Flour Bluff--In a move that outraged some inner district residents and parents last week, the Flour Bluff Independent School District announced that they would be eliminating out-of-district tuition for students who live beyond the current school district boundaries. While seen as a needed move for the district by some, others took to social media with outrage. On Monday evening, District Superintendent Joe Kelley released a list of frequently asked questions to parents and concerned citizens about the decision.
The district cites a number of factors, including the hyperlocal economy that resulted in the move. In the document, the district noted that while other neighboring districts had already dropped their out-of-district tuition rates, FBISD was the only area district left charging the fee.
On Monday, FBISD Public Information Officer Kim Sneed spoke with The Light and stressed that transfer students will still be held to the same academic and behavior level as before and that the move will open the door for children and parents who want to take advantage of the quality education that the district has.
In 2018, while some area schools were indeed lacking in performance, Flour Bluff ISD was in fact excelling. When the Texas Education Agency announced their District Report Card in 2018, Flour Bluff was among 4 area districts that earned an “A” grade. Among those, were smaller, more emerging districts including London and Port Aransas ISD. To add contrast, nearby districts including Corpus Christi ISD, West Oso and Tuloso-Midway only earned a “C” letter grade.
We reached out to TEA on Monday to see if there was a trend in districts who a turning away from charging tuition for out-of-district students? While they maintain that overall, the number of districts turning away from tuition fees is varied, they did note that in highly competitive areas the trend is certainly turning away from tuition fees and focusing more on what the district can offer students and parents academically.
While district officials in Flour Bluff do recognize that enrollment has “gone flat” in the district, the district is working to improve those numbers. Snead noted that in the High School alone in 2018, the district saw a decline of around 100 students.
However, for some the move for some area residents, the move is seen as almost an insult. Paul Lindley, an education administration consultant in Austin said on Monday that when these moves are undertaken by a district, many area residents often feel that sense of inclusion being disrupted and that Lindley says is a sad state of affairs.
“We see this time and time again, especially when a very well performing district neighbors not so well performing districts,” Lindley said. “In the end, the district is making a good call for the benefit of every child and sometimes, as you can see from some of the public comment on social media, the best interest of every child is often lost in the politics of the matter.”
Lindley said that taxpayers should look at school taxes as an entire pie, not just a slice. To him, that is where the current state level system leaves much to be desired.
“If a parent is willing to make the sacrifice to drive their children to and from school and events in another district, then that should say something about the parent and their desire for their child. It is by far not opening up a ‘flood gate’ as some might put it,” Lindley went onto say.
But back in Flour Bluff, while some are willing to be understanding about the situation that the district finds itself in, others are not which is partly why the district has chosen to address the situation via the information release.
The tuition break will not start until next year the district says, though many wish it would never happen at all.
You can read the report by clicking here.
***Kyle Stanford contributed to this report from Austin.