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Gainesville schools to hold hearing about tuition
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A possible tuition increase for out-of-district Gainesville school students will be the focus of a public hearing Saturday. The Gainesville school board finance committee will hold the first of three hearings to field citizen comments on whether tuition should be raised from $450. Currently, students who live outside Gainesville city limits are allowed to attend schools within the city system if the space is available.

Traditionally, parents of out-of-district students are required to fork over tuition at the beginning of each school year to supplement their child's education expenses.

At its July board meeting, the school board asked Gainesville schools interim Superintendent Merrianne Dyer to review tuition rates. Based on a tuition study conducted in July and August, Dyer said if the board decides to increase tuition, she recommended the board raise the tuition rate to $504 with payment due in January.

Dyer said the $54 increase is proportional to the 12 percent tax increase the board recently imposed upon Gainesville residents.

Sammy Smith, Gainesville school board member and board finance committee member, said he and fellow board finance committee member Kelvin Simmons will present the results of the summer study to public hearing attendees Saturday.

"The board felt overwhelmingly we needed to seek public comment on our tuition structure and our options for the future," Smith said. "Our hope is to bring a comprehensive report to the board by January."

Smith said the tuition figure and timeline for payment has yet to be determined. He said the board aims to get the matter settled by January as fiscal year budget preparations for the June 30 budget adoption deadline begin early in the year.

According to the study Dyer presented to the school board in August, there are 408 tuition students attending Gainesville schools this school year. Tuition students make up nearly 7 percent of the school system's total student population.

Tuition student revenue and employee child revenue provided the school system with about $172,399 in the 2005-2006 school year, including tuition, local, state and federal grants per child.