The Kirkwood School District provides free tuition to children whose parents work for the district but do not live in it.
About 133 children and their parents in the 2016-2017 school year take advantage of that benefit, worth more than $12,000 per student. The district unnecessarily takes on another in $1.6 million in budget costs and passes it on to taxpayers.
District taxpayers bear the cost of educating those 133 children with no offsetting income.
Unlike students from the Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts, Kirkwood receives no compensation from the home districts of those 133 students.
Many taxpayers in the district choose to send their children to non-public schools but do not do so for free. They pay tuition while also paying thousands of dollars in property taxes to the Kirkwood School District.
Private School Taxpayers do not get the option of taxpayer-paid tuition to send their children to the school of their choice.
The district states that the tuition benefit is a common practice and that only one other district -- Parkway -- does not offer it. Perhaps Parkway is the only district with a sensible policy. To charge tuition from nonresident students, Kirkwood would need a waiver from the state. The district should seek one or end the practice before ever asking for another huge tax increase.
For a district like Kirkwood, which is supposedly in a financial crisis, it doesn't make sense to offer the free tuition benefit on top of salaries that are among the highest in the state.
Since middle-income families' incomes are in decline and the costs of living, college education, healthcare are increasing, the school district should end free tuition for employees before it attempts to pass a tax increase.