TUCKAHOE, N.Y. -- The Tuckahoe Board of Education adopted a last minute addition to its agenda Monday night and changed a longstanding district policy.
Effective immediately, unless students are already registered, children of employees who live outside the Tuckahoe Union Free School District will no longer be able to attend Tuckahoe schools for free. Instead, these students will be treated as tuition students and will have to pay roughly $13,000 per year in tuition.
While all five of the trustees supported the policy, there was division among trustees as to when the new policy should take effect.
Board President Dr. Julio Urbina added a provision to the new rule that will allow any child registered up to and including Aug. 22 to attend Tuckahoe schools free of charge.
But newly elected Trustee Michelle Liscio and Trustee James Oliverio said that only children registered before the end of the last school year should be grandfathered in. "I am only one person, but I believe the board is bending too much," Oliverio said.
Urbina began the discussion by explaining that the previous board under the supervision of then-Superintendent Michael Yazurlo had been responding to requests from the community that residents should not have to fund the education of non-resident even though they were employed by the district.
Urbina said the board had had numerous discussions on creating a policy to accommodate district residents but the discussions came to a halt around March when the board was advised that it was not be allowed to change district policy on the matter.
In his new role as board president, Urbina recently asked Interim Superintendent Dr. Edward Reilly to check with school board attorneys on the issue. "We were literally told on Friday that we were allowed to do this," Urbina said.
But Urbina also said that he would not support making the new policy retroactive to June, with school starting in just a few weeks.
"It's not fair to him/her or the kids, referring to district employees, that we say they cannot attend school here unless they pay tuition two weeks before school begins because we were misinformed," Urbina said.
But with the district clerk on vacation, district officials could only guess at how many, if any, children would be affected by implementation of the new law retroactively to June -- a fact that made it difficult for Liscio to vote in favor of extending the time limit to August.
By the same token, tabling the action could only extend the time period where employees could register their children to attend Tuckahoe Schools.
While Liscio voted against making the policy effective on Aug. 22, instead of on June 30, she urged the board to learn from this and put into place a system where the board and district officials know how many tuition paying children attend the school and how many children of employees out of district attend the schools.
The policy was passed in its revised format with the cut off for registration on Aug 22.
Urbina said there are less than 10 children throughout grades kindergarten through 12 who are the children of employees attending Tuckahoe Schools for free.
In addition to requiring children of employees to pay tuition from here on out, students now attending for free will be subject to new rules, such as maintaining a grade point average of 80 percent and have no write-ups or suspensions on their records.
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