Webber: Issue of overcharged ‘sending’ school districts needs to be addressed

TRENTON – The problem of school districts that send students to other districts being charged too much tuition was discussed at today’s Assembly Budget Committee hearing.

Assemblyman Jay Webber raised the issue during questioning of the fiscal year 2014 budget request for the Education Department.

Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf acknowledged it is a problem that is increasing in frequency.

The issue is that all school districts have to live within the 2 percent tax cap increase.

Webber said, however, that some receiving districts are charging the sending district higher rates than they should be, leaving the sending district squeezed.

“This is a growing concern for a lot of towns, especially smaller towns,’’ Webber said.

He suggested that maybe Cerf could limit such increases to an appropriate level, but Cerf said that as things now stand he lacks the authority.

Webber suggested a legislative remedy may be the way to go, and Cerf said he may be able to issue some guidance to districts or county superintendents.

“It doesn’t sond like it would be a difficult exercise,’’ Webber said. “This is the maximum tuition increase a sending district should see.’’

And with additional authority granted by the Legislature at some point, the problem may be addressed, he indicated.

Webber: Issue of overcharged ‘sending’ school districts needs to be addressed