I note that the Academy has based their 2007-08 tuition rate on 459 Woodstock students enrolling in the Academy next year while the BOE has estimated 486 students for which Academy tuitions will have to be funded. Which is the more accurate number?
If the Academy bases their tuition rate on dividing an expected number of students into their total budget for the coming year, then it would be advantageous to underestimate the number of students from each town because the tuition rate per student would be higher than if it was calculated by a higher number of actual students. Consequently when a higher number of students actually enroll the next year, the Academy will charge the tuition rate calculated by underestimating the number of students. This means that the tuitions collected for enrollment of the unexpected students will be all gravy, e.g. pure profit. If 10 more students enroll from Woodstock than projected, then this gravy will amount to $113,290 (pure profit). If 20 more students enroll than projected by the Academy, then the gravy will amount to $226,580 (pure profit).
If the BOE were to over-estimate the number of students enrolling at the Academy, then the money allocated for the over-estimated portion would have two possible fates. The BOE has two options only – to either spend that money in the budget in the same school year or return this money to the Town General Fund. If this money goes back to the town general fund, then who knows what would happen to it. This last year, money in the BOE budget due to an overestimate of students enrolling in the Academy was used to reinstate sports programs, fund full-day kindergarden, lease purchase of 2 new school buses, and add teacher aids â€¦ e.g. â€˜bandaidâ€™ money.
By underestimating student enrollment, the Academy makes a profit that can be used in the future as they see fit, whereas the BOE must spend the unspent money within the same school year on cancelled or added programs.
I believe that the Academy decided not to have a credit/debit program with the BOE because of the failed contract negotiations. Otherwise, the excess money that the BOE gained would have been paid to the Academy and allocated toward future enrollment of Woodstock students the following year. This has created the appearance of a situation where the Academy has decided to underestimate the students for the next year to inflate their tuition rate without any obligation to adjust their tuition rate after the actual number of enrolled students is determined. It will be interesting to see what the actual number of enrolled students turns out to be next year. It will be interesting to see if the Academy consistently underestimates the enrollment from other towns as well. This will tell us a lot about the Academy.