Tuition Students: How They Help Oyster River

Oyster River High School has an unused asset; unoccupied seats. According to the New Hampshire Schools Administrative Association (NHSAA), ORHS has at least 300 seats we could offer to school systems who want them. Currently, we fill seventy (70) of those seats with Barrington students at $13,000 per seat which brings in over $900,000 in revenue. All of the tuition money that is brought in is used to offset the tax impact of ORCSD to the towns of Durham, Lee and Madbury. ORHS has not added teachers, as students blend seamlessly into the high school atmosphere, helping to sustain high school classes and programs already offered. The one exception is a single special education teacher for which Barrington provides additional funding.

Could we add an additional one hundred and eighty (180) tuition students and bring in additional revenue to fill our classrooms and offset taxes even more? Yes, since these seats are unoccupied that potential exists and again this would add students to programming at the high school while offsetting taxes to District residents.

Like any great business, breaking into a new market requires a strong brand and a reputation of excellence. Fortunately, Oyster River has both. Barrington and Newmarket have expressed interest in filling these ORHS unoccupied seats. ORCSD has proposed $14,500 per student as the tuition fee to Barrington and Newmarket. At that rate, we would generate over $3.6 million in revenue, revenue we do not currently have, to invest in programs at ORHS and increase taxpayer relief.

The subject often comes up in public meetings as to why we would not charge $16,300 per student (NHDOE 2011-12) the cost of educating ORCSD students. The answer, like business we can only charge what the market is willing to pay. Our private school competitor, Coe-Brown, charges approximately $13,500 per student. If we charge far more than Coe-Brown we will be out of alignment with the market, resulting in too few tuition students and no revenue. The proposed rate of $14,500 per tuition student is higher than what we currently charge Barrington and is subject to further negotiation.

The ORCSD School Board has sent out a framework to both Barrington and Newmarket to use as the platform for further discussions. The ORCSD School Board is negotiating with both school districts through a Board appointed sub-committee. The Board has targeted the November 20, 2013 meeting as the date a decision will be made as to which school system it wishes to contract with. Whatever the School Board recommends, the final say is with the voters of Durham, Lee and Madbury in March of 2014.