Married students and staff who live in University of New Hampshire apartments won't be responsible after all for the full cost of sending their children to local public schools, UNH says.
The New Hampshire, the university's student newspaper, reported last week that due to budget issues, UNH planned to begin charging parents who live in the Forest Park apartments an additional $17,600 per year if their children are enrolled in the Oyster River School District in Durham.
In the past, the university has paid the full cost per child to the town of Durham in lieu of taxes because the property is tax exempt.
There are seven children from Forest Park attending Oyster River schools, and the change could have more than doubled what their families pay in rent. David May, assistant vice president of business affairs at UNH, told the newspaper the current rent for a two-bedroom apartment at Forest Park is $1,138 per month. He did not respond to an interview request Monday, but a university spokeswoman said officials will continue to discuss the per-pupil costs with the town.
"We will find a way to ensure that the affected families in Forest Park do not bear this financial burden," Erika Mantz said in an email.
Todd Selig, Durham's town administrator, said the $17,600 figure is "driven 100 percent by the actual cost to the Durham community."
"We simply have an agreement with the institution with UNH," he said. "We send a bill per the agreement to the business office, and UNH pays it. I'm not sure how UNH is socializing that cost, it's really beyond our purview."
Durham has other agreements with the university with respect to fire, police and other municipal services, he said.
The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment off campus is $1,100 to $1,300, Selig said. If UNH had decided to pass along the education cost to its tenants, those tenants would have to decide whether to stay on campus or look elsewhere for housing, Selig said.
"If they move off campus, then from the perspective of the town of Durham, that would be equitable, because they would then be paying property taxes through their rent," he said.