There remains to be some confusion and misinformation on social media regarding the new fee that will be required of out-of-district students attending Arab City Schools.

Beginning in August, parents of new Arab students who live outside the city limits of Arab will have to pay a fee or tuition.

Those who don’t have to pay the tuition are:

• Students who live in the school district in Cullman County;

• Students who were already enrolled in Arab City Schools for the 2018/2019 school year (that just ended).

For clarity – the tuition does not apply any nonresident student that was enrolled during the school year that just ended or those students within the school district who live on Arab bus routes in Cullman County, such as the New Canaan area.

The fee applies to all new kindergarten through 12th grade students.

Pre-k students are not affected by the tuition because that is a separate program.

The tuition is as follows:

• $500 for one child;

• $300 for the second child;

• $200 a year for the third child.

The fee would cap at $1,000 after the third child. The most parents would be required to pay is $1,000, regardless of the number of children (after three) attending.

The tuition for this year’s fee is due on or before Saturday, and the district is not offering payment plans.

After this year, the fees will be due when registering a child at their respective school in the Arab City School System.

Until now, the Arab system always had open enrollment, meaning students could attend Arab regardless of where they lived at no charge. Arab Superintendent John Mullins told the board of education the new policy is needed because of increasing student enrollment, especially in the upcoming kindergarten class, which would increase student-teacher ratios beyond the general goal of 18 students to one teacher.

“This is about space – we’ve run out of room,” he said.

Though June 15 is the deadline to register and pay the tuition, it’s not a “hard deadline.”

It is the deadline for guaranteeing the student can be enrolled in Arab City Schools. Beginning Monday, that guarantee no longer exists.

“(Beginning Monday) if we have room available, you can attend,” said Arab City Schools chief financial officer Adrian Cook. “It’s just not guaranteed.”

The June 15 date is to help the system determine how many teaching units will be needed for the upcoming school year.

“We will continue to accept out-of-district students until we reach capacity,” Cook said.

As of Wednesday, the system had received tuition for about 30 students, mostly kindergarteners who will be attending Arab City Schools for the first time.

“We had 92 (out of district) kindergartners signed up for the coming school year and about 30 are paid,” Cook said.

Another issue, Cook said, is parents who say they didn’t receive a letter from the school system regarding the tuition

“If you know you’re out of district, don’t wait on a letter,” she said. “Call the central office for the information.”

That number is 256-586-6011.

The policy grandfathers in non-resident K-12 students who were enrolled in school at the end of the school year that just ended, it does not grandfather in families.

If you have a child who lives outside the school district already attending an Arab city school, there would be no fee for that child as long as he/she continues attending. But, if you have another child in the family who will be attending Arab schools for the first time, a fee would be required for him/her.

Also, if a non-resident child is attending Arab schools now but leaves and later decides to come back to Arab, the fee would be required.

And, if a non-resident child is currently in the Arab pre-K program and chooses to attend Arab in the future, the fee would be required.

For more information: 256-586-6011.

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