Deerfield, Concord school districts reach agreement
DEERFIELD — The Deerfield and Concord school districts have agreed upon a 10-year extension on a sending contract for Deerfield high school students that Deerfield district officials said involved big concessions from Concord.
The contract includes amendments to the previous 10-year contract that will gradually lower tuition payments by Deerfield to Concord and potentially allow more Deerfield students to attend other high schools.
“For Deerfield, things went very, very, very well. The (Deerfield School Board) was pleased with the new amendments to the contract and the concessions made by Concord. (The Deerfield School Board) even had a toast of sparkling wine,” School Board member Donald Gorman said.
Gorman, who also helped negotiate the contract on behalf of Deerfield, said the deal was struck Monday before the previous 10-year contract was set to expire at midnight. However, he added that lawyers for both sides have yet to sign off on the language of the agreement and that both school boards would still need to approve it.
“If the agreement comes back to us from the lawyers good to go, it is pretty much a given that (the Deerfield School Board) will sign off on it. Something pretty drastic would have to happen for us not to,” Gorman said.
Gorman said that while Concord made several concessions to Deerfield during the negotiations, the biggest concession is how student tuition is calculated.
According to a joint statement issued by the Concord and Deerfield school boards, “The method of calculating the tuition rate will change. Currently the tuition that Deerfield pays to send students to Concord High School is calculated based on a baseline tuition cost that was negotiated in 2004 with annual increases based on increases to costs at the high school or the Consumer Price Index, whichever was higher.
"Beginning in 2015-2016 the tuition will be based on the actual net expenditures of the high school for the previous fiscal year, with a negotiated annual increase and a capital fee. This new method of calculating tuition is projected to result in lower annual tuition cost for Deerfield students as of 2015-2016.”
Gorman said he didn’t want to speculate on how much money the contract extension will save the town and by extension, the taxpayers, but he did say a tangible savings is eventually expected.
“Our kids are going to get a (first class) education from a first class school and the savings will trickle down to the taxpayers, it is one hell of a program,” Gorman said.
In another concession by Concord, Deerfield will now have the option of sending 90 percent of classes to Concord instead of the 95 percent standard called for in the old agreement.
“That means six to seven kids per class can now choose where they want to go to school instead of the current three to four,” Gorman said.
Gorman added that since negotiations have resulted in a contract extension, and not a new contract, the final agreement will not need to be approved by the State Board of Education or by the residents of Deerfield or Concord.
“Many other aspects of the agreement remain the same,” the joint statement read.
Roughly 2½ years ago, the Deerfield School District informed Concord that it planned on shopping around to find the best deal for its students. While not in active negotiations with other districts at the time, the contract with Concord was ironed out, Deerfield did hold preliminary negotiations with other school districts.
Despite shopping around, Gorman said that, unlike some surrounding districts, the relationship and negotiations between Concord and Deerfield have always been amiable.
“It was very pleasant to be in that situation compared to what I am hearing about other districts,” Gorman said.