Hall County Schools is looking to provide an opportunity for students to remain enrolled in the school of their choice who would otherwise be rezoned to the Gainesville City School System when a tax-sharing agreement expires in October.
Space could be made available for up to 300 students to continue attending Hall schools tuition-free, Superintendent Will Schofield told the Hall school board on Monday, April 23.
“We’ve never done that before,” he added.
A longstanding agreement that kept funding and students flowing to Hall schools even when the city of Gainesville annexed unincorporated county property is coming to an end.
Its expiration could leave an estimated 150 students and their families switching school districts as soon as next fall, Schofield said, and would cost Hall County Schools some $600,000 in tax revenue.
Schofield said the agreement had provided great stability over 12 years and was the only one of its kind in the state.
“It appears that will end,” he added.
Gainesville Superintendent Jeremy Williams told The Times in an email that he had communicated with Schofield “about the mutual respect between school districts and the difference in perspectives on continuing the tax-sharing agreement.
“We look forward to moving ahead to best serve our students and residents,” he added.
Letters have been sent to the students and the families affected, and Hall school officials said they had reviewed which schools have space to accommodate their enrollment.
“None of these families did anything wrong,” Hall school board member Brian Sloan said. “They’re just in an unfortunate position.”
Schofield said school officials would work to develop some merit-based criteria that students who are zoned now or in the future into Gainesville would have to meet for tuition-free attendance.
Those benchmarks would be reviewed at future board meetings, he added.
Gainesville school board member Sammy Smith told The Times he wanted to review what Hall is proposing before commenting further.