Fairmont says: Send us your students

FAIRMONT – Fairmont Area Schools is offering a deal to surrounding districts: Send your secondary grades to Fairmont, but keep 30 percent of the state aid, as well as any local levies.

Called the Secondary Student Tuition Policy, the proposal was introduced to the Fairmont School Board on Tuesday. Superintendent Joe Brown called it a “very general proposed policy.” It sparked interest among board members.

Minnesota public schools receive about $7,000 in state aid per secondary student. According to the Fairmont Area policy, districts that choose to send entire secondary grade levels to Fairmont would pay about $4,900 per student, keeping the remaining $2,100.

“This allows the local district to keep 30 percent of the state aid and any compensatory or operating levy funds,” Brown said.

He noted that amount could be up to $5,000 per student in some districts. These districts could then use the excess funds to repair buildings or infuse their elementary classes with new programs or equipment.

Board member Julie Laue recalled her days attending school in Ceylon. Classes would come to Fairmont for partial days for academic or vocational courses.

“Have we looked at anything for half a day?” she asked.

“That’s a great idea,” Brown said. “Perhaps we could set hourly tuition rates.”

“This is not just for Fairmont. We’re building students,” Laue said. “This will help their students as well as ours – give them opportunities.”

“I think it’s a great idea,” said board member Myron Moeller. ” We’ve got a lot to offer.”

“We’re very fortunate we are a comprehensive district,” Brown said. “Some neighboring districts only have 15 or 16 students in a grade. We could easily bring in 100 students and only add 2.2 students per class.”

No action was taken on the proposal.