PIC Director’s Corner

Published September 1, 1998

Parents in Control marks its first birthday this month with a firmly grounded organization, a distinguished board of directors, and a mailing list of almost 10,000. PIC chapters are forming in Topeka and Gardner, Kansas and in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. Other PIC chapters are close to forming in Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas, and Little Rock, Arkansas. Inquires are coming in from a dozen other areas that appear likely to start PIC chapters in the future.

To function effectively, PIC now has three arms. PIC, Inc. is our 501c(4) organization which can lobby and be politically active. PIC Educational foundation is our 501c(3) organization, which will do research and education. Finally, there is PIC PAC, Inc., which can endorse and contribute to candidates. The PIC Educational Foundation is the only one of PIC’s three organizations that can receive tax-deductible contributions.

We have added to our Board of Directors two very distinguished individuals. State Representative Steve Wise of Florida has become our Treasurer and Jim Spady, charter school activist from Washington state, is our new Vice Chairman. Our board meets every other Friday by conference call.

However, our PIC organization is rowing faster than our bank account, so please consider using the coupon on this page to make a much-needed contribution to the cause of parental choice in education.

Your donation will be received with our most sincere and heartfelt thanks. e assured you are in my daily prayers asking God to shower you with His many blessings.
Kay O’Connor

$3,000 Bill for NJ Kindergarten

When parents Howard and Judy Simon bought a house in Demarest, New Jersey, last August, and sent their son Matthew off to kindergarten each day, they never expected to be treated as criminals. After all, they were paying property taxes to the Demarest schools and had registered Matthew at the local school. Nevertheless, they received a tuition bill for $3,067 for the first 90 days that Matthew had attended kindergarten–illegally, according to school officials.

The Simons’ new house needed extensive renovations, and so they stayed with relatives in Englewood Cliffs while the repairs were being completed. According to state law, since they were not legal residents of Englewood Cliffs, their son was not entitled to attend school there unless they paid tuition or received permission from the school.

But the Demarest school board claimed the Simons were not legal residents of Demarest, either, since they were not actually living, or “domiciled,” in their home in that community. Although Howard Simon wrote to the school board in October explaining the situation, the Demarest school board is still pressing for payment of the $3,067 kindergarten tuition bill. The Simons have appealed to the state Board of education and a hearing is scheduled for August 21.,

“They’re using the law the wrong way,” protested Simon.
Bergen Record
May 28, 1998

Chicago School Employees Owe City for Tuition

According to school board accounts, the City of Chicago is owed about $1.8 million in tuition by parents who don’t live in the city but have enrolled their children in Chicago’s public schools, mostly at magnet schools.

About one-third of the unpaid tuition, some $615,000, is owed by employees of the Chicago Public Schools, including four principals, two assistant principals and over twenty teachers who, in most cases, are supposed to live in the city as a condition of their employment.

The crackdown on non-resident tuition payments began when Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas took command of the city’s schools three years ago and assigned the task to Schools Inspector General Ken Holt.

Of the 103 cases currently on file, the amounts owed by non-resident parents range from a low of $400 to a high of $84,000 for a family that for years illegally enrolled several children in the Chicago schools. In 42 cases, the school board has gone to court to enforce payment of the tuition.

In a recent case, a Mather High School teacher residing in suburban Lincolnwood had enrolled his daughter at Mather for three years without paying tuition. After parents and others told Chicago Sun-Times columnist Raymond R. Coffey about the situation, Coffey commented “What I could never figure out was how Mather officials could be unaware of a situation that so many other people seemed to know about.”
Chicago Sun-Times
June 12, 1998

Where Do Our Tax Dollars Go?

As a result of a volunteer pilot program called “Your Schools, Your Money,” taxpayers and school officials in 22 Pennsylvania school districts soon will be able to track how education tax dollars are spent by grade, by subject, and by building. Another four intermediate units and three area vocational-technical schools are also included in the grant-supported program, which was announced on June 23 by state Education Secretary Eugene Hickok on behalf of Governor Tom Ridge.

“For instance, how much is your school spending on ninth-grade math? Is it too little or too much?” asked Hickok, noting that such reporting is rare. The new reports, he said, would be useful not only to taxpayers but also to school administrators, who would get “yet another management tool to help them better allocate their schools’ financial resources.”

Each participant will receive a grant of $5,000 for research, development, or purchase of a software program to produce locally designed, user-friendly reports that clearly outline how schools spend tax dollars.
Pennsylvania Department of Education
June 23, 1998

Vermont Public Schools Now Offer Choice

Until recently, Vermont families living in a district without a high school paradoxically had a greater choice of schools for their children than families living in a district with a high school. While the latter were required to attend their local public school, the former were permitted to attend any public or non-sectarian private high school, with the tuition paid by their local district through Vermont’s “tuitioning” program.

In Rutland County, educators have now extended school choice to the almost 2,800 students who attend the county’s seven public high schools. To date, nearly 50 students have taken advantage of the opportunity. Under a pilot program that will go into operation this fall, each high school is limited to sending ten students to other schools or accepting ten students. Unlike the tuitioning program, the schools participating in the Rutland County program will not charge for incoming students.

“The focus is expanding opportunities for kids,” Rutland Schools Superintendent David Wolk told The Boston Globe, noting that 98 percent of students chose to remain at their home school. This provides a psychological benefit, he said, because “they have made a conscious choice.”
The Boston Globe
May 22, 1998