Back to School, Or Not: District Administration Mandates Re-registration of Freshmen

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Back to School, Or Not: District Administration Mandates Re-registration of Freshmen

In or out? The process of re-registration may remove some students from Staples High School. | Photographic by Petey Menz '11 and Stevie Klein '12

In or out? The process of re-registration may remove some students from Staples High School. | Photographic by Petey Menz '11 and Stevie Klein '12

In or out? The process of re-registration may remove some students from Staples High School. | Photographic by Petey Menz '11 and Stevie Klein '12

In or out? The process of re-registration may remove some students from Staples High School. | Photographic by Petey Menz '11 and Stevie Klein '12

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In or out? The process of re-registration may remove some students from Staples High School. | Photographic by Petey Menz '11 and Stevie Klein '12

Over the summer, the superintendent’s office required all incoming ninth graders to prove that they live in Westport so that they can attend Staples in the fall.

“They need to provide residency verification, and they need to do that before they can take a tour… If they don’t do that then they won’t be able to attend class until they have verified that they live in Westport,” said Administrative Assistant to Superintendent Jenny Robson.

The superintendent’s office mailed a letter in June explaining to legal guardians of freshmen that they would have to reregister their child in order to attend Staples.

Robson said that there were “a few” people found who attend Staples but who were living outside of the district. The number of students who have not yet reregistered is fewer than 70 as of Aug. 24, Robson said.

The reregistration process is designed to increase the accuracy of the Westport Public Schools by hitting “the reset button,” Robson said.

“We can start fresh and have all the correct information,” Robson said.

Assistant Principal Richard Franzis said another reason for the re-registration process is to prevent money being spent on students who live outside of Westport. Those who are currently attending school here are essentially getting a “free ride,” Franzis said.

“There is concern that a significant number of people whose children attended Westport Public Schools aren’t Westport paying residents,” Franzis said.

Robson said, however, that money is not the superintendents office’s primary motive for reregistering incoming ninth graders.

Technically, if guardians are not paying the taxes to fund their child’s education, they are stealing services, Franzis said.

As Westport’s expenditure per pupil is $16,735 — in the middle of the pack in the DRG — the town pays that much for every student who is not a resident of Westport, and not paying for their public school education.

Only incoming freshman will have to perform residency verification, not every grade. Robson said that it is purely an issue of staffing.

“If we had more manpower, we could do everyone,” Robson said, “but as it is there are over 450 incoming freshman, and that’s a lot of people coming through the door already.”

If a student is found to not be living in Westport, that student’s family will have the option to pay for his or her tuition at Staples, Franzis said.

The family would have to pay for Staples tuition on top of the taxes that they already pay for their town of residency.

“We have to educate the student somewhere,” Franzis said.

It is the school’s responsibility to give students a good education, Franzis said.

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