The Prince William County School Board revised its tuition policy last night to reduce the financial burden on families who want to enroll their children in the schools before they become county residents.
The change, permitting reimbursement of tuition in certain instances, is in response to a family who camped out in the Prince William Forest Park this year to establish county residency and avoid a nonresident tuition fee.
Army Maj. Mark McAvoy bought a house in the county on Aug. 27, but could not move in until Sept. 26. The family stayed in tents in the forest for 14 days to avoid tuition payments totaling $322 for their two older children.
Under the new policy, if newcomers can prove that settlement has been completed on purchase of a home and that they plan to move into the dwelling within 20 school days, their children will be enrolled in county schools if a deposit is supplied equal to the amount of 20 days tuition. If the move into the county is made within the 20-day period, the money will be returned.
If the move is not made within 20 days, the deposit will be forfeited and an additional 30 days tuition collected. Additional costs would be taken from the second payment. Refunds still could be made as appropriate.
The revision passed on a 6-to-1 vote. Patricia Cusey, citing concerns about additional work for school staff, cast the dissenting vote.
Board member Maureen S. Caddigan, the measure's sponsor, said that McAvoy had made some correct points and that the policy revision was an example of the board's willingness to be responsive to citizens.
Kaye McAvoy, who said her family endured a rainy period in the forest and their camp was frequented by deer, seemed pleased with the board's decision. "That's great," she said. "I think it is a fair way of dealing with the situation." Mark McAvoy was a bit more reserved, calling the move a "small step in the right direction."
In other business, the School Board unanimously approved the formation of an employe relations advisory committee that would monitor human rights and equality issues in the school system.