Governor’s School could lose state funding

Students may have to pay full tuition

A potential $2,000 tuition for Governor’s School could make the program less of a meritocracy and leave districts deciding whether to take on the extra cost.

If the N.C. General Assembly’s proposed budget cuts are enacted, the program will lose all of its state funding, leaving students or local districts with the full cost of attendance.

The cost of Governor’s School increased to $500 last year, and students already accepted into the N.C. Governor’s School will likely not have to pay an increased tuition this summer, Mary Watson, director of the program, said.

In the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district, 21 students were selected to attend the six-week program this year.

The district requires parents to pay a tuition, unless they are unable, in which case financial assistance is available, said Jean Parrish, coordinator for district’s instructional services division.

The district did not have to pay any student’s tuition in 2010, Parrish said, though she declined to comment on how many students are seeking aid this year.

“We’re facing the same cuts as everyone else,” she said

“We can’t say that we can pay them all, but if the student has a financial need we can pay that for them.”

She said no students in the district have been deterred from the school because they couldn’t pay.

The Orange County Schools district had five students accepted into the program, said Patricia Coleman, administrative associate to the superintendant.

The county district paid the full tuition for all five, she said.

Sarah Ringel, the parent of an Orange County Schools student accepted to Governor’s School, said she questioned the priorities of the state in defunding the program.

“The whole concept of Governor’s School is one of the few things that’s just purely based on merit and not money,” she said. “We’re turning a sad corner. It’s not surprising, but it’s still sad.”

Governor’s School is a six-week residential summer program for high-achieving high school students that provides academic and fine arts classes at Salem College in Winston-Salem and Meredith College in Raleigh.

Without funding, the program would have to operate like a private program, accepting full tuition for each student, Watson said.

If that happens —which Watson said is likely — it won’t only be students who are worse off, she said.

“When you don’t educate and provide for your brightest students, you’re hurting the economy of the state,” Watson said.

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