Ripley taxpayers are likely to see a tax cut of about 5 percent in their 2014-15 school taxes.
So much for the concerns posed by many that the tuitioning of Ripley students to Chautauqua Lake Central School wouldn't actually save the school district money.
Salaries are expected to decrease by 8 percent and benefits are expected to decrease by 6.7 percent. The move has also helped Chautauqua Lake, which would have had to cut programs without the influx of new students and tuition money from Ripley. Chautauqua Lake's 2014-15 budget comes with a 1.99 percent tax levy increase that would have been much worse without the more than $850,000 CLCS will receive from Ripley.
At least in the short term, tuitioning has worked well for both schools. It should at least be considered as a model for other districts struggling to balance their budgets. After all, legislation allowing regional high schools isn't part of this year's state budget and doesn't appear to be on the horizon anytime soon. Full-blown mergers aren't popular with the public and the merger process, with its multiple chances to be voted down, is nearly impossible to navigate. Right now, it would appear tuitioning is the best bet for struggling districts. Schools with excess capacity due to declining populations can use the additional money to pay existing teachers and keep existing programs. Schools who send students out of their buildings are able to save money by eliminating salaries and benefits.
We ask, then, what is stopping other small school districts from pursuing tuitioning plans?