Under new agreement, Croydon students must now apply to attend Newport schools

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 10/2/2023 5:14:31 AM
Modified: 10/2/2023 5:13:35 AM

NEWPORT — The new tuition agreement between the Newport and Croydon school districts now requires Croydon students to complete an application to attend Newport schools, which is the same process Croydon must follow with other districts.

“That is the only change, that they will no longer give us that guarantee (of taking all Croydon students),” Croydon School Board Chairman Aaron McKeon said.

The new agreement, signed Aug. 21, had to be developed quickly as Newport informed the Croydon School Board just days before the June 30 expiration of a three-year contract that it would no longer automatically accept Croydon students, McKeon said.

“They pulled the rug out from under us pretty quickly,” McKeon added. “We would have liked a year to figure out what to do.”

McKeon said the Newport School Board gave a few reasons for the decision to now require an application be completed and reviewed before a student is accepted.

One reason was capacity and making sure there was enough staff.

“They wanted the ability to turn down a student for that reason,” McKeon said, though he added that once a student is accepted, Newport will allow that student to return each year until graduation unless there are behavioral issues. “What happens if there is a capacity problem after the first year?”

Being unable to meet the special needs of a student was a second reason, McKeon said.

“The third reason they gave is they don’t want to be married to kids who don’t want to be there,” McKeon said. “If a student is disruptive, they want the ability not to take those kids.”

McKeon pointed out that Newport, under the previous contract, always had the option to expel a student but agreed that it was Newport’s prerogative to structure the new agreement in its best interests.

“It is in line with what other schools do,” McKeon said.

Public school districts are required to take all students who live in a district, but state law allows receiving districts to deny admission to other districts. McKeon said Croydon sends about 20 students to Newport and added no student was denied admission this school year. Croydon, which has an elementary school for up to fourth grade, also sends students to several other districts including Sunapee, Mount Royal Academy, Lebanon and Claremont.

McKeon said unless a Croydon student is moving to a new school at Newport, fifth grade to the middle school or middle school to the high school, they will not have to complete the application and will be “grandfathered.”

The four criteria listed in the contract that will be considered with each application are the educational needs of the applicant, the applicant’s prior commitment to education, prior behavioral record in school and space availability. The application process also includes an interview.

The tuition rate for middle and high school students to attend Newport is just above $17,000, and for fifth graders it is $15,800.

The Croydon School District has had to contend with other issues in recent years, including a vote at the annual school meeting in March 2022 that slashed the proposed $1.7 million budget by nearly half, cutting $800,000. Residents successfully petitioned for a second meeting, and the cut was restored in May of that year.

Newport Superintendent Donna Magoon and Newport School Board Chairman Steve Morris did not respond to emails.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.

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