Tipp BOE votes yes, then no on tuition-based enrollment for non-residential students

TIPP CITY — A motion to admit non-residential students into the Tipp City school district on a basis of tuition payment failed at a special meeting held by the Tipp City Board of Education Thursday evening.

Originally, the motion had passed in a 3-2 vote; board member Corine Doll motioned to revote after a discussion about the treasurer search progress because she had been distracted by a text from her daughter when the board originally voted, and when her name was called, she voted to approve the motion when she meant to vote against the motion.

“I just want to say that there’s probably people that were really hopeful when that passed, and I want to acknowledge those people that are disappointed now. I’m sorry that I was distracted; I would never vote ‘yes’ for something that implicitly gives privilege to somebody for their ability to pay where other people would miss out on an opportunity,” Doll said.

Vice president Anne Zakkour was in agreement with Doll, saying that it’s difficult for any student who wants to come to Tipp City and is not able to do that, but especially when the decision rests on a monetary issue.

“I just feel that that’s not the right message to send, that one is allowed entry and another is not, and the deciding factor is money,” Zakkour said.

Board member Joellen Heatherly brought up that not allowing tuition-based students and not allowing open enrollment seemed counterintuitive to wanting to make Tipp City as accessible as possible to potential students.

“If we are an inclusive and inviting community, I think that we should have open enrollment and tuition,” Heatherly said. “We have people who have come to this district because the districts where they live do not offer the educational opportunities in that district.”

The final vote on the motion had board members Heatherly and Simon Patry voting in favor of allowing tuition-based students, and president Dunaway, Doll and Zakkour voting against the motion.

The progress of the treasurer’s search also continued at Thursday’s meeting, with the board making the decision to utilize the services of Miami County Educational Service Center (MCESC) in their process of interviewing and selecting a new treasurer. Because Tipp City Schools already works with MCESC, the only costs the board will accrue are for materials used. Services such as facilitation and interviews will not cost the district any money.

“The reason I felt strongly about getting a consultant is because I have no way of knowing how to vet a treasurer,” Doll said. “Other than my experience with Mr. Stevens, my only way to understand how to pick a good one is to compare them against what Mr. Stevens has done. I want somebody to also help me understand what it is I’m looking for.”

Additionally, the board has received three completed applications for treasurer and one application that is in the process of being completed; of these applicants, two have their treasurer’s license. Focus shifted toward scheduling interview dates, with many board members stressing the importance of acting quickly with a deadline approaching.

“Is there any reason we’re not looking at these three fully completed applicants right now? We could have a good candidate right now and that candidate accepts a job in another district by the time we work out our navigation,” Zakkour said.

Interviews for treasurer candidates are planned for Tuesday, April 6 and Friday, April 9 beginning at 5 p.m. both days. The next work session for the board of education is planned for Tuesday, April 13 at 5 p.m., and the next regular meeting is planned for Monday, April 26 at 6 p.m.