Seeking non-resident students

Tuxedo School District to host May 16 open houses as interest in STEM Academy increases

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— Following up on its recent announcement of a new non-resident tuition policy, the Tuxedo School District will be hosting an open house on Thursday, May 16, at its two schools.

Non-residents interested in sending their children to George Grant Mason School, which houses kindergarten through eighth-grade, should gather at that school at 6 p.m. for the hour-long meeting.

The program at the George F. Baker High School will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the high school.

Tuition yet to be decided
“I think we may be the first (district) to be actively promoting and publicizing this (a non-resident tuition),” said Tuxedo School District Superintendent Carol Lomascolo. “There are districts that have non-resident tuition policies, I just don’t think they are publicizing it to the degree we are. We are responding to the community as they are responding to our STEM program and because of that (STEM), parents of children in the younger grades are asking about our (K-8) program.”

Lomascolo said she expected the district’s K-12 tuition rate to be finalized by the Tuxedo Board of Education at its May 14 meeting so that parents would have that information at the open house.

The tuition will work similarly to private school tuition in that taxpayers are not exempt from paying school taxes to their district of residence if they attend Tuxedo schools as non-residents, she said.

As in a private school, parents are responsible for providing transportation to and from school for their children, Lomascolo added.

GWL relationship remains critical

“We are looking to be realistic (about tuition) and be fiscally responsible to our community,” she said. “We want to have it as low as it could be and still be responsible to our community.”

Since the announcement about the creation of a STEM Academy at Baker this fall, Lomascolo said the district continues to receive many calls on a weekly basis from interested non-resident parents wanting to know more about the potential of attending the school because they value the specialized science-technology- engineering-mathematics curriculum.

At meetings held earlier this year discussing STEM, non-residents did attend, she added, eager to learn more about Tuxedo’s plans.

Lomascolo again acknowledged that Tuxedo will continue to look at ways to enhance its high school student census and long-term viability since approximately 80 percent of its high school population comes from Greenwood Lake.

She has repeatedly stressed the importance of maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship with the Greenwood Lake School District as that district contracts with Tuxedo to send its resident students to Baker.

How many?

Is there a finite number of non-resident students who could attend George Grant Mason School and George F. Baker High School in Tuxedo?

“Our board policy indicates that non-resident students can attend our schools at grades and programs that have space and do not require the addition of staff to accommodate the increase in students,” Lomascolo wrote in a note to The Photo News.

She wrote that for the K-6 grade levels, George Grant Mason School could accept “about 40 more students with the projected class sections for next year.”

Lomascolo said the exact numbers for George F. Baker High School are based on building capacity, “understanding that grade levels and course requirements could impact this number.”

She estimated around 70 or more seats are available to non-residents.

Building capacity is about 450 students, she wrote, with a current enrollment of 380 students in the high school, Lomascolo wrote.

‘What Tuxedo is all about’

A new Greenwood Lake–Tuxedo contract begins this September after months of contentious meetings ending last fall which resulted in reinstating Tuxedo as one of three choices for Greenwood Lake students to consider for their high school education.

Warwick Valley High School and the Chester Academy High School are the other options.

“Yes, it does help by bringing other students into our district,” she said. “But it also speaks to the pride we have. What we’re doing is showcasing our school and what we are really known for as an outstanding school district.”

She knows there’s an appetite for a STEM education in the surrounding communities.

“Now obviously, STEM is a draw for some parents,” she said. “But it’s also our size. We are a small school district that is like a family. All of those things are reasons why people are calling. The goal is to let people come and see what Tuxedo is all about.”

By Nancy Kriz

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